The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac: 2012 Year of the Dragon

Happy Chinese New Year!  As of January 23, 2012 we are entering The Year of the Dragon which ends on February 9, 2013.  More specifically, this is The Year of The Black Water Dragon.

What does this mean?

Dragon contains Earth, Water and Wood. It is also called Water Dam in Chinese astrology. Water Dam is the source of Water. That means the Water of Black Water Dragon will never dry.

This is the year for innovative ideas, great deeds, and big projects.  People who are dealing with finances, in particular, will see successes.  Hope this bodes well for the current world economies.  This will be the year to begin new business or social ventures.

The Year of the Dragon will usher in a roller coaster ride as it twists, turns, dives and soars in our lives.  But only if we adjust our balance will we be able to pick the most beautiful fruits.

Dragon gives happiness and success to all good and honest people and those who have great talent. 2012 will be favorable for the establishment of family and during this time we should be bold and not humble.

The Dragon is a karmic animal.  Our deeds and actions towards others this year will also be returned to us.  It might not be a bad idea to give love and compassion this year more than ever.

What is the Chinese Zodiac?

The Shēngxiào ( 生肖 in Chinese) is known in English as the Chinese Zodiac.   It’s a 12-year mathematical calendar that relates the aspects or characteristics of an animal to each specific year in the cycle.  What sets the Chinese zodiac apart from the western zodiac, aside from the fact each sign spans a full year rather than a month, is that it attributes only earthly animals to each phase.

The Chinese Zodiac Calendar

Below is a delightful video rendition of the story behind the Chinese Zodiac and how the Jade Emperor chose the 12 animals to represent the months of the year.

Chinese Zodiac Story:  Video

The Personalities of the Chinese Zodiac

The cycle begins with the Year of the Rat.  Below is a comprehensive list of the Zodiac years in order, with thanks to Wikipedia.

  1. Rat –  () (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Water): Forthright, tenacious, intense, meticulous, charismatic, sensitive, intellectual, industrious, charming, eloquent, sociable, artistic, and shrewd. Can be manipulative, vindictive, self-destructive, enviousmendacious,venal, obstinate, critical, over-ambitious, ruthless, intolerant, and scheming.
  2. Ox –  () (Water buffalo in Vietnam) (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Water): Dependable, ambitious, calm, methodical, born leader, patient, hardworking, conventional, steady, modest, logical, resolute, and tenacious. Can be stubborn, dogmatic, hot-tempered, narrow-minded, materialistic, rigid, and demanding.
  3. Tiger –  () (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Unpredictable, rebellious, colorful, powerful, passionate, daring, impulsive, vigorous, stimulating, sincere, affectionate, humanitarian, and generous. Can be restless, reckless, impatient, quick-tempered, obstinate, selfish, aggressive, and moody.
  4. Rabbit –  or  () (Cat in Vietnam) (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Gracious, good friend, kind, sensitive, soft-spoken, amiable, elegant, reserved, cautious, artistic, thorough, tender, self-assured, shy, astute, compassionate, lucky, and flexible. Can be moody, detached, superficial, self-indulgent, opportunistic, and stubborn.
  5. Dragon –  /  () (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, eccentric, intellectual, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, artistic, generous, and loyal. Can be tactless, arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, intolerant, dogmatic, violent, impetuous, and brash.
  6. Snake –  () (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Fire): Deep thinker, wise, mystic, graceful, soft-spoken, sensual, creative, prudent, shrewd, elegant, cautious, responsible, calm, strong, constant, and purposeful. Can be a loner, bad communicator, possessive, hedonistic, self-doubting, distrustful, mendacious, suffocating, and cold.
  7. Horse –  /  () (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Fire): Cheerful, popular, quick-witted, changeable, earthy, perceptive, talkative, agile, magnetic, intelligent, astute, flexible, and open-minded. Can be fickle, arrogant, childish, anxious, rude, gullible, and stubborn.
  8. Goat (aka Ram or Sheep) –  () (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Fire): Righteous, sincere, sympathetic, mild-mannered, observant, artistic, intellectual, ingenious, innovative, creative, mothering, peaceful, and generous. Can be indecisive, over-passive, worrier, pessimistic, sensitive, shy, and weak-willed.
  9. Monkey –  () (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Inventor, motivator, improviser, quick-witted, inquisitive, flexible, innovative, problem solver, self-assured, sociable, artistic, polite, dignified, competitive, objective, and factual. Can be egotistical, vain, arrogant, selfish, reckless, snobbish, deceptive, manipulative, cunning, jealous, suspicious, and stubborn.
  10. Rooster –  /  () (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Acute, neat, meticulous, organized, self-assured, decisive, conservative, critical, perfectionist, alert, zealous, practical, scientific, and responsible. Can be over zealous and critical, puritanical, egotistical, abrasive, proud, opinionated, and gives into empty bravado.
  11. Dog –  /  () (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Metal): Honest, intelligent, straightforward, loyal, sense of justice and fair play, attractive, amicable, unpretentious, sociable, open-minded, idealistic, moralistic, practical, affectionate, sensitive, and easy going. Can be cynical, lazy, cold, judgmental, pessimistic, worrier, stubborn, and quarrelsome.
  12. Pig –  /  () (Boar in Japan and Elephant in Northern Thailand) (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Water): Honest, gallant, sturdy, sociable, peace-loving, patient, loyal, hard-working, trusting, sincere, calm, understanding, thoughtful, scrupulous, passionate, and intelligent. Can be naïve, over-reliant, self-indulgent, gullible, fatalistic, and materialistic.

These “yearly” animals represent how you present yourself to the world and are said to be an indication of how people perceive you.  The Chinese don’t just draw on this yearly zodiac though.  They also use animal signs for a monthly zodiac which are called “inner animals,”  to the specific day called “true animals,” and to the hours called “secret animals.”  All aspects are considered critical in figuring proper Chinese astrology.

For even more detailed information regarding the Chinese calendar, click here.

Want to know what your Chinese Zodiac sign is?  Click here.

I’m the Tiger.

The Loneliest Whale in the World

I’m re-blogging a sad but beautiful post. It’s very moving.

If you want to hear her actual song, you can go here:  The song of the 52hz whale.  It’s been sped up ten times to make it easier to hear.  It does pull at your heart.

A Meditative Journey with Saldage

For this week’s photo challenge, I am resharing a post that tells the story of the loneliest whale in the world.  It is one of my earliest post and still touches my heart today for I believe her story is not unlike so many people today. It is unlikely that her story doesn’t resonate with many of us, young and old.  

In 2004, The New York Times wrote an article about how, since 1992, scientists have been tracking a baleen whale named, “The 52 Hertz Whale.”  She swims and sings alone in our earth’s vast ocean:

She isn’t like any other baleen whale. Unlike all other whales, she doesn’t have friends. She doesn’t have a family. She doesn’t belong to any tribe, pack or gang. She doesn’t have a lover. She never had one.

Her songs come in groups of two to six calls, lasting for five to six seconds each. But her…

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You Can’t Buy Love

Have you ever tried to define “love?”  It’s not so easy, is it?  Eventually you end up with a long elaborate list of rules, expectations and metaphors that still seem to wander off the path.  Well, they don’t just wander, they end up wandering off, tripping, and falling over a precipice never hoping to reach their destination.  Love, quite simply, is one of those things that defy words.  You know what it means.  If you try to intellectualize it, you end up with a confused mess.  But sit silently with it and there’s no mistaking it.  Love.

I’ve recently run across pictures that very humbly define “love.”  These pictures are of men who are homeless, at least that’s what I infer from the pictures.  They look cold and hopeless.  How does their predicament show “love?”  Just take a look.

These are men who have run across hard times.  They have the clothes on their backs.  They also have their dogs.   Dogs and human beings snuggled close, giving each other warmth in the cold, but if you look more closely you can see something else.  Besides body heat they are also sharing that wordless need we all have; to be wanted, to be needed, to give love and be loved in return.  I see the food of hope in that essence between men and dogs.  I see it fanning the dim spark of faith and keeping it tenuously alive; a “maybe” for tomorrow.  I see safety and security of the soul even though it doesn’t exist for them materialistically.  I see love in all it’s silent beauty.

It’s all the proof in the world you can’t buy love.  These men have nothing to give these dogs that they can’t give themselves to survive, but they have their bond of love.  In its simplicity nothing is being taken for granted.  It sure gives you perspective.

Picasso with a Bushy Tail?

I stumbled into this article yesterday.  It’s about Winklehimer Smith who is touted as an up-and-coming artist who specializes in abstracts.  But Winklehimer isn’t just any ordinary artist; she has a tail.  Yes, she’s a squirrel.  According to Winklehimer’s human, Shyla Mouton, the little squirrel is a good observer.

“I paint dolls and jewelry and she just watches me all day long. They are very intelligent animals,” says Shyla Mouton, AKA “Artist Ugly Shyla.”

Miss Winklehimer has been with Shyla since she was about 6 weeks old.  According to Shyla, she had been watching the squirrel out of her kitchen window climb down a nearby tree.  She was attacked by a cat and Shyla ran to her rescue.

“I rushed out there to help her. One of her front legs was messed up pretty bad. I put her in a little box on the porch to make her comfortable because I didn’t think she would make it through the night,” recalled Shyla.

Shyla put her heart and soul into nursing the little squirrel back to health.  Now Winklehimer has joined her human friend in the creative arts, watching and mimicking Shyla who also paints dolls and jewelry.  The little squirrel takes up brush and paint and scrawls it across the paper in artistic squirrel fashion.  One thing is certain, she loves gnawing on that brush handle. .

Winklemimer has become a YouTube sensation and some of her works have been auctioned off for as much as $40.  Shyla states the money is put towards helping humans and animals in need.

Be sure to read the full story and the complete NBC video here.

Here’s another squirrely tale:  Squirrels Just Wanna Have Fun

The Power of “Awww!” — Baby Animals

Sometimes I like to take what I call an “awww break.”  There is just something about looking at pictures of baby animals that stops the gear grinding between my ears and throws open the doors of my heart.  It’s a reminder of simple, pure innocence and days of unbridled play, boundless curiosity and the kind of deep sleep that makes you wonder what they’re dreaming.

So, take a pause, pull up a smile and let a few “awww’s” flutter around your heart.  Enjoy.

The Four-Legged WTC Hero

I realize it’s been more than 10 years now since the World Trade Center tragedy.  Honestly, I don’t like remembering it.  I tend to avoid articles related to it, but as I was surfing I ran across a story I hadn’t heard before and one I couldn’t ignore.  Stories like this are always inspiring to me.  They not only encompass our humanity, but shine the light on just how loving, courageous and special our animal companions are too.

Omar Eduardo Rivera and Dorado

This is the story of Dorado, a then 4-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever seeing-eye dog for New York resident Omar Eduardo Rivera who worked as a computer technician on the 71st floor of the north tower.  When the tragedy struck several floors above him, Dorado was laying contentedly under his masters desk.  Mr. Rivera, who is blind, realized the gravity of the situation by the din of the chaos around him.  He held little hope to escape in time, so he unleashed his patient friend and turned him loose in hopes he could save himself.

Mr. Rivera described his ordeal to the Costa Contra Times as posted on

“I stood up and I could hear how pieces of glass were flying around and falling. I could feel the smoke filling up my lungs and the heat was just unbearable.

“Not having any sight I knew I wouldn’t be able to run down the stairs and through all the obstacles like other people. I was resigned to dying and decided to free Dorado to give him a chance of escape. It wasn’t fair that we should both die in that hell.

“I thought I was lost forever—the noise and the heat were terrifying—but I had to give Dorado the chance of escape. So I unclipped his lead, ruffled his head, gave him a nudge and ordered Dorado to go.

“I hoped he would be able to quickly run down the stairs without me and get to safety. I thought he’d be so scared he’d run. Everything was in chaos. Glass was shattering around my head and people were rushing past down the stairs.”

At that point, Dorado was swept away by the rush of people fleeing down the stairs, and Mr. Rivera found himself on his own for several minutes amid the pandemonium. But then the unexpected occurred, in the form of a familiar, fuzzy nudge from knee-high.

Mr. Rivera explains, “He returned to my side a few minutes later and guided me down 70 flights and out into the street, it was amazing. It was then I knew for certain he loved me just as much as I loved him. He was prepared to die in the hope he might save my life.”

Inside the egress stairwell, they found some additional assistance from a co-worker. “I took hold of her arm. She went down on my right side and the dog on my left,” says Mr. Rivera.

The narrow stairwell was extremely crowded, and confusion exacerbated the situation. “People were pushing and shoving past me. Everywhere there was a sense of terror.”

But according to the man, order gradually prevailed: “…most people behaved quite prudently and grasped what was happening, so we walked down in an orderly fashion, but it was slow going. It was slow going because there were so many people struggling to get out but Dorado kept nudging me down step by step.”

It took Mr. Rivera, his coworker and Dorado more than an hour to descend those 70 floors.  Shortly after arriving on the street to safety, the north tower collapsed.

Says Mr. Rivera, “I owe my life to Dorado—my companion and best friend.”


Birds Present Musician With a New Look at Birdsong

I just read an amazing post on the blog Dear Kitty. Some Blog.  The blog post entitled “Music inspired by birds on wires” is about Jarbas Agnelli, musician, and a unique musical interpretation. You can follow that link directly to Dear Kitty’s blog and post where the story appears in full.

Being a birdwatcher and a bird lover, I found the title immediately intriguing.  What I discovered is that Jarbas Agnelli did a very remarkable thing.  He’s taken a unique perspective of something most would pass off as mundane and meaningless and uncovered a secret hidden in plain sight.  After seeing in a newspaper a photograph of birds sitting on electrical wires (below), he was inspired to translate their positions on the wire into musical notes.  A musical score was then produced without any changes being made to the original positions of the birds.  Here’s the video he made showing the original picture as well as the amazing musical score hidden within it.

Click here for video.

Birds on Wire by Jarbas Agnelli

Please do visit Dear Kitty. Some Blog’s blog.