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Thursday, May 27, 2010

About a baby... and other amazing stuff

Long time no post (about 2 wks) but been busy.  

Biggest News:

Got a new 
grandbaby!
Mom and son
doing well...
and so am I.







And if that wasn't the coolest, I got frosting on my cake when I was running yesterday. It was about 7 am and the sun had just cleared the horizon on a beautiful day. As I was doubling back across a dam near my house, I saw something big sitting on the guard rail ahead of me. As I got closer, I recognized a magnificent American bald eagle looking intently over the grass and wooded landscape below... on the opposite side of the man- (or woman-) made lake.

The majestic bird let me get within 10 feet before it looked my way and winked (or it seemed like it did in my mind) before soaring out over the valley... just the eagle and me (in my new five-finger running shoes, no less), morning sun, lush valley under bright blue sky... and total silence. How often does that happen in a lifetime? I think it was God's punctuation mark.
 

So while I am on the wonders of it all, I just read something pretty amazing about the bar-tailed godwit... you know ( suuure you do), the migrating bird that summers in both Alaska and New Zealand/Australia. The question (though not my question) always was, how does it get from here to there?

It had long been presumed the birds flew down across Asia, resting and eating as they migrated because the distance is enormous. But when a godwit-specializing biologist noted that the birds, just before migration, looked almost as fat as a softballs, he wondered if they didn't take a more direct route.

Years passed and the answer could never be confirmed... until 2006 when technology created micro satellite transmitters.  The birds then were track-able on his computer's Google Earth program. What he discovered was mind-boggling. The bar-tailed godwits were flying directly over the Pacific ocean...7,100 miles in nine days--the longest nonstop flight ever recorded... and the time without sleep ain't shabby either.  (I once flew from L.A. to NZ nonstop... over the Pacific one minute into the flight and didn't pass over any land until touchdown... a total of 13 hours... and boy, were my arms tired.)


Last amazing discovery today: Monster in space. Scientists have confirmed that one of our 'close-in' planets (WASP-12b) -- still thousands of light years away --  is being 'eaten' by a neighboring star! At today's rate of consumption, this jumbo world, cooking at 2,800 degrees, has only 10 million years before it is completely consumed. Apparently, the star, which we will name Godzilla, is a slow eater, not unlike my mother.

I wonder if this stellar cannibalistic behavior has anything to do with the recent death of David Durston? He was the guy who wrote and directed I Drink Your Blood, one of our early cult thrillers, in 1971? In case that name doesn't ring a bell, perhaps you remember his other movie shown as a twin-bill... I Eat Your Skin? He also did Zombies aka Voodoo Blood Bath.

So we have gone from miracle of birth to David Durston's death. Covered a lot of ground. Did we learn something today?

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's all about the name

Ever wonder what your life would be like if you were named Rumplestiltskin (left)... or Clyde or Mervin or Mayviss? Me neither. Probably no different unless your last name was Butts or Badcock, Gaye or Holl (all real)... which probably made growing up difficult. Or if your last name was White and mom named you Snow. All kinds of those things really happen.

I know a guy named Al Ng... which is the shortest name on my list.  Longest name though probably goes to a German immigrant whose passport actually read:
(First and "middle" names)
Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert 
Irvin John Kenneth Loyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy 
Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor Willian Xerxes Yancy 
Zeus

(Last name)
Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorffvoralternwarengewissenhaf
tschaferswesenchafewarenwholgepflegeundsorgfaltigkeitbeschut
zenvonangereifenduchihrraubgiriigfeindewelchevorralternzwolf
tausendjahresvorandieerscheinenbanderersteerdeemmeshedrraums
chiffgebrauchlichtalsseinursprungvonkraftgestartseinlangefah
rthinzwischensternartigraumaufdersuchenachdiesternwelshegeha
btbewohnbarplanetenkreisedrehensichundwohinderneurassevanver
standigmenshlichkeittkonntevortpflanzenundsicherfreunanleben
slamdlichfreudeundruhemitnichteinfurchtvorangreifenvonandere
rintlligentgeschopfsvonhinzwischensternartigraum

Senior

He called himself Hubert Wolfe... probably Hubie to friends. He signed his name Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff, Sr. In case you didn't notice, he has one given name for every letter of the alphabet plus his surname.  (This info comes from the interesting website, Everything2.com ) Do I believe everything I see in print and on the internet... absolutely!

Had a friend once who was oddly named. I never thought anything of it until one day, I had to ask a telephone operator (remember those?) for his phone number. " Frosty Craighead, please... " I listened to her laugh convulsively for 30 seconds before she could respond, then I had to convince her it wasn't a joke.

So what do you do when you are saddled with something awful to your ear? You change it, right? That's why this British chap caught my attention. He is now officially known as:

'Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spider-man Batman Wolverine Hulk And Flash Combined'

I don't know what he changed it from but suspect it was something like Alfred Meeks. All I know is that after the name change, I wouldn't want to mess with him... not because he might be too tough (which is possible) but because he must be crazy... and If you read this sir, I'm just kidding. I really like what you've done with your name... it has a definite 'ring' to it... and your costume is absolutely Fab!

Maybe this is what he had in mind:

So when the cat has got your tongue
There's no need for dismay
Just summon up this word
And then you've got a lot to say
But better use it carefully
Or it could change your life
One night I said it to my girl
And now my girl's my wife!


In which case, I say "Bully." I hope you and  Mrs Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spider-man Batman Wolverine Hulk And Flash Combined nee Ms Superwoman Prettier Than Avenging Angel Batgirl Wonder Woman Vampirella And Alice In Wonderland Combined have a wonderful life and are blessed with many superchildren named Art, Jane, Mary, Joe, Bill and Jesse.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Are you ready kids?

If you recognize that question, then you know the answer:

Kids:    Aye-aye Captain.
Captain:    I can't hear you...
Kids:    Aye-Aye Captain!!
Captain:    Oh! Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
Kids:    SpongeBob SquarePants!
Captain:    Absorbent and yellow and porous is he!
Kids:    SpongeBob SquarePants!
Captain:    If nautical nonsense be something you wish...
Kids:    SpongeBob SquarePants!
Captain:    Then drop on the deck and flop like a fish!
Kids:    SpongeBob SquarePants!
Captain:    Ready?
EveryBody:    SpongeBob SquarePants! SpongeBob SquarePants! SpongeBob SquarePants!
Captain:    SpongeBob.... SquarePants! Haha.

It's the lyrics to SpongeBob's theme song, of course.  Did you sing it as your read it? Of course you did. Well, good old SpongeBob just celebrated his 10th anniversary on Nickelodeon and the yellow sponge has made a positive impact.  

New York Times writer Alessandra Stanly did a nice spread on him last July. "There have been books, dissertations and seminars dedicated to the study of the fun-loving yellow kitchen sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea," she wrote. "There was a theatrical-release movie version. President Obama said during the campaign that SpongeBob was his favorite television character, and that he rarely misses the show because he can't; it is always on in the Obama household. David Bowie and Johnny Depp are among the many stars who boast or blog about having been guest stars.

"Part of the show's mystique," she continues, "is precisely that it has so little edge or subversive double-entendres."

Other long-running shows of that genre, The Simpsons, now in its 20th season, and South Park which first appeared in 1997, have a strong and loyal following but they also have a lot more edge, for sure. SpongeBob Square Pants is a 'nice' show with plots and characters that almost everyone can enjoy without a censor or social translator.

"SpongeBob is an optimist, a naif and a child, and the unifyiing joke is that he is impervious to danger or dislike--as were Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Rocky and Bullwinkle and even Charlie Chaplin," says Stanley. "Mostly he is happy, though when he is upset, tears gush out  of his eyes like an open hydrant; in one episode SpongeBob cries so hard at having to leave his best friend, Patrick Star, to go to summer camp that he misses the 'Sun&Fun' boat, and boards a convict ship bound for 'Inferno Island' instead. He thinks the prison is a really enjoyable summer camp, and not even solitary confinement, breaking up rocks or prison slop can dissuade him."

SpongeBob is also a very good example. Just recently, a 12-year-old New York girl saved her best friend's life using a trick she learned from SpongeBob--the Heimlich maneuver. When saw her friend choking on her gum, she remembered how SpongeBob saved Squidward who had swallowed a clarinet, and did likewise.

Now who can't not like SpongeBob now? Seriously.

For much more fun, check out SpongeBob and his friends on his web site.