The squirmy buggers certainly aren't easy to find, but by some miracle of nature, a Latah County resident stumbled upon not one but three specimens of the extremely rare and very real Giant Palouse Earthworm this past weekend. The discovery was made on Paradise Ridge, southeast of Moscow.
Cass Davis, who also came upon two specimens of the worm back in 2012, has been keeping an eye out for more of the elusive species since that previous discovery. The Giant Palouse Earthworm last made major headlines back in 2005 and 2010.
In 2009, the Inlander also published a profile on one researcher's quest to find the unusual creature. Lest anyone has forgotten, the Giant Palouse Earthworm (GPE) is a pale white worm that has been mythologized to grow up to three feet long, to emit a lily-like odor and also spit when aggravated. As recent as 2005, the GPE was thought to be extinct, but that same year was found by a University of Idaho graduate student near Albion, Washington. Then, in 2010, another U of Idaho researcher, Karl Umiker, found two more specimens outside Moscow.
Why all the fuss about a worm? The species' habitat, the native Palouse Prairie, is an incredibly endangered ecosystem, with less than 1 percent of its original area remaining. Back in the late 1800s, when the Palouse was settled and transformed into the agricultural heartland it is today, farmers plowed up the native plants and soil, effectively destroying the GPE's habitat. Researchers believe this is why finding surviving worms has become a literal quest to find a needle in a haystack.
The GPE was petitioned by scientists and conversationalists in 2009 to be placed under protection of the Endangered Species Act, but U.S. Fish and Wildlife denied the request.
Forgive us for the lack of new cat-filled posts — sometimes the cat culture news is slow. This week, however, we're here to introduce a particularly pissed off cat who's emerged as the next big Internet star (back off, Grumpy Cat) and a Washington-state native who's also reached celebri-cat status.
While the Grumpy Cat's retail empire has become ubiquitous from the mall to the grocery store, there's a new cat on the scene whose icy glare is even more menacing and filled with disdain. Last month, a Salt Lake City feline by the name of Albert — better known as "Pompous" Albert — surfaced on the 'Net and has since racked up more than 58,000 followers on Instagram. Here's the reason why:
Albert is of the curly-haired Selkirk Rex breed, and his owners say he was a "rejected" show cat. Obviously, though, not being active in the cat show circuit looks to be Albert's gain. He's named after the famously white- and wild-haired physicist Albert Einstein, and spends his days judging the inferiority of humans at the art gallery where he resides as office overlord.
Meanwhile, a former ward of the Seattle Persian and Himalayan Rescue — the same group responsible for rehabilitating and rehoming the late, great Colonel Meow — has taken the title of "America's Next Cat Star."
Brimley, a snowy white Persian, received the honors earlier this month when he took top votes for the silly yet serious Animal Planet "reality" contest that reflects the world's growing fascination and acceptance of cats as pop-culture celebrities.
The Tukwila, Washington-based cat had quite the rough start in life, which no doubt won over audiences and judges of the contest. Rescued from a breeder who'd more than given up on him, Brimley nearly lost his eyes before Seattle Persian took him under its care and nursed him back to health. He was adopted by a doting cat dad, RJ LaCount, and is living a much-deserved life of luxury, with all the belly rubs, vacuum grooming sessions (yes, really) and tasty treats he could ever dream of. You bet right if you guessed his namesake is the one and only Wilford Brimley.
It's still the beginning of the annual period from spring through late summer that animal welfare workers refer to as "kitten season" — the time of year when the most un-spayed female cats become pregnant and give birth. Even though it's early, the Spokane Humane Society has already taken in around 150 kittens born this spring, and that number will exponentially increase in the coming months.
To spread the word that these kittens rely heavily on the community's support during their early stage of life, SHS is hosting its first ever Kitten Shower this Friday evening. The event is just what the name implies — a baby shower, but for homeless kittens. The concept has proven to be a successful way for animal sheltering organizations across the United States to collect much-needed supplies and to teach the community about the intensive process of caring for kittens until they're old enough to be adopted (usually around two months).
The drop-in event this Friday, April 17, is happening from 6-8 pm at the Northeast Community Center (4001 N. Cook, in the Hillyard neighborhood). Those interested in learning more about fostering kittens for the Humane Society are invited to attend, as well as anyone who wants to support the shelter's efforts to raise kittens — many without mothers — from their earliest days. The shelter is collecting donated supplies that are in demand this time of year (see a list of requested items below).
April Fools' Day is an unrelenting online troll fest these days. Since cats rule all corners of the web, it's appropriate that some of the best viral pranks this year featured cats front and center. Some of the feline-centric jokes this year were so damn good, it's depressing to cat lovers that they're not real, especially in a world where cat cafes are a thing, and anyone's cat can give Grumpy a run for her money.
Just pushing the envelope of "it could be real" was a totally genius prank pulled by the Colorado Springs Independent alt-weekly, which actually went as far to put its joke on the cover of its April 1 issue. You can see why some readers took it seriously. The Independent used the opportunity to make light of an issue facing city developers improving a park site, which has been found to be contaminated with asbestos.
Perhaps the most viral joke this week was the clever ploy pulled off by Groupon: Grouber, an Uber-like ride service that replaced humans with feline drivers and was pitched as a service for Groupon users heading out to redeem an offer. With catchy copy like this, who could resist?
Our drivers are spayed, neutered and have no reason to curl up in your lap and make it awkward. Trust us, these cats are cool. And every Grouber experience should be a paws-itive one.
Grouber cars are purportedly directed by a red laser beam projected from the front of the car that plots the trip's route, since you know — cats + laser pointers.
As much as both cat lovers and the indifferent laughed and admired the legitimate attempt of these two well-pulled pranks, this next one has no reason to not be real someday.
The supposed launch of a cat-proof sofa from Ikea is also something that should and could be real, but sadly isn't, yet.
Microsoft got into the game, too, with Office for Cats, a suite of products called PowerPounce, OneNap and Meow.
Cats are (for good reason) not being trained to become seeing-eye-pets to guide blind people.
Music streaming service Rdio is also not partnering with famous cats to release a new cat-centric music service, Rdio-Meowz.
Ever want to be on TV? Start practicing your best zombie moans and hobbling walks tonight, because locals are being cast as undead extras for the second season of Syfy's Z Nation series being filmed in and around Spokane.
The last local audition session for the show is being held tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, from 9 am-4 pm in Spokane Valley, at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Interested actors must be at least 18 years old and live in Washington state. There's a $5 fee if you're not with a talent agent or don't have a Casting Networks Account.
Pre-registration for tomorrow's auditions is open online until 6 pm tonight, but those who miss this deadline can still show up — just be prepared to wait.
While the next season of the Walking Dead lookalike is set to resume filming in Spokane later this year, the future of the Z Nation's impact on regional film industry professionals and actors in the coming years is a less clear. Right now, a bill in the state legislature (SB 6027) is seeking to boost Washington's film incentive program, which industry advocates argue is necessary for projects like Z Nation and others to continue being made in the Evergreen State.
Washington's film incentive program essentially offers cash rebates for qualifying productions made within state borders. Funded by a portion of the state's business and occupation tax liabilities (corporations/individuals can choose to contribute to this fund, getting a dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to $1 million), qualifying productions can apply to get 30 percent of what they spent here back from the state.
That fund, however, is currently capped at $3.5 million, making Washington's the fifth smallest incentive program in the nation — well behind many other states with enormous incentive pools for filmmakers. It's why so many movies are made in Vancouver, British Columbia (which has no cap on its incentives), and other states like Alabama, Louisiana and New Mexico. As of now, Washington Filmworks, which oversees the program, has already received more requests than it can award to qualifying projects seeking to get some money back in return for the economic impact of locating work in-state.
The bill being considered (no vote on it has been set yet; the current session ends on April 26) would gradually boost Washington's program to an annual cap of $10 million by the year 2019. This increase would result in a $3.5 million loss in state revenue during the current budget biennium and a $17 million loss during the 2017-19 biennium. These numbers are the biggest factors working against the request for an increased program cap, as state lawmakers work to balance the state budget while maintaining basic programs.
Film industry supporters from around the state testified on Wednesday during a Senate Ways & Means hearing (captured in the video below), including several Spokane residents whose livelihoods rely on their home state remaining competitive with its neighbors, like Oregon. Our southern neighbor caps its program at $10 million a year, allowing it to sustain several ongoing projects for films and television series.
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