When Fishheads Unite
Thursday, February 25, 2010 | Author: eventer79
No Friday Fun Fact for you!  I will be away all weekend, drinking working hard at an aquatic conservation conference.  And debating my latest puzzle:  why does science insist we write in the driest, most boring fashion imaginable?  Do they deliberately try to create a body of literature so inaccessible to any person with a spark of imagination?  Every time I try to slip in the smallest of colourful adjectives, I am slapped down by the mighty hand of the Personality Police.  God forbid someone might actually have an emotion, or even worse, smile, while reading a report.  For we must maintain the harmonic, transparent, joyous relationship that science currently has with the public and within its own ranks.  By the way, yes, that clanking sound you hear IS in fact my eyes rolling all the way back in my skull at that last...
You Can't Drink And Drive
Friday, February 19, 2010 | Author: eventer79
But it's ok to drink and fly. Friday Fun Fact!

We already know that ants always fall to the right when they are drunk. The logical next step is to fund further research into "when animals behave like frat boys." I can almost see the giggling researchers sitting around the table, having finally found a sponsor who will apparently fund ANYthing. "Oh, oh, how about bats? Let's see if we can get them drunk enough to crash into things when they fly."

Oh yes, it's a real study.

And lo and behold, at least in the Western hemisphere, drunk bats are still able to fly just fine, thank you, as well as operate heavy machinery and avoid drunk dialing ex-cavemates.

If only we could all be so evolved.  I need to find out who is funding all this critical research...
I Have To Say It....
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 | Author: eventer79
Maybe someday I will have the energy to go the whole topic in depth, although I'm not sure there's really a point. But I have to say one thing about this whole climate change business:


Weather = (noun)  the state of the atmosphere with respect to wind, temperature, cloudiness, moisture, pressure, etc.  This refers to a LOCALIZED area.  I.e. the weather in any place you happen to be

Climate = (noun) the composite or generally prevailing weather conditions of a region, as temperature, air pressure, humidity, precipitation, sunshine, cloudiness, and winds, throughout the year, averaged over a series of years.

Therefore, just because it happens to be quite cold where you are right now, does NOT mean that global AVERAGE temperature is not increasing.  There's a tricky little thing about hemispheres:  it may be damn cold in Maryland right now but it's close to 100 degrees in Darwin, Australia at the moment.  So someone there is sweating their tail off wondering why the world is so damn HOT.

The top ten hottest years on record include 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 1998, and 1997 and the past decade was the hottest in recorded history.  A dump of snow on a fraction of one continent does not affect this. 

I am also instituting a new rule in society:  if you do not know how to perform analytical statistical tests on a data set or correctly interpret a logistic or logarithmic plot, you do not get to have an opinion about climate change data and its veracity.

*stomps out of room grumbling*
A Cold Fish Stays Warm
Friday, February 12, 2010 | Author: eventer79
Friday Fun Fact!

One simplistic way to divide up the animal kingdom is to split it into "warm-blooded" (capable of regulating their internal body temperature, i.e. mammals) and "cold-blooded" (reliant on external conditions to warm or cool the body, i.e. reptiles). However, like seemingly every categorical system ever devised on earth, black and white are interspersed with shades of grey.

Like oceanic tuna. In this group, bluefin tuna have been most successful in the art of keeping one's core muscles warm for high-speed swimming in cold ocean currents. So how does an animal with no true thermoregulatory mechanism achieve this? By the sleek and efficient workings of counter-current exhange.

This relies on a simple principle of physics: that heat always travels from warmer places to colder places. You experience this every day in a thousand different ways. For example, get cold then climb into a hot bath. The heat from the water will travel into your body and the surrounding cool air. Your body gets warmer, but the water in the tub gets steadily cooler.

Bluefins use this to great advantage. All of their arteries are set up so they flow from the core of the body out towards the skin and extremeties while all the veins flow from the outside in. The two sets of blood vessels run in parallel and lie close to each other. As a result, as warm arterial blood (heated by muscle activity and food metabolism) passes cool venous blood, heat leaves the arterial blood and is transferred to the venous blood. Heat exchange is greatest when the difference in temperature between the two vessels is greatest, so when the arterial blood has 100% of its warmth and it is next to venous blood that has 0% of its warmth, a lot of heat will be transferred. It looks a lot like this:

So what you get is blood steadily losing warmth as it runs out of the core. Blood traveling back into the core is steadily gaining warmth. Net result: the warmth stays close to the core and is not lost to the surrounding, heat-sucking water.

It's a life-saver. Cool muscles are slow to respond to demands for movement so if you keep your muscles warm, you have a better chance of escaping things that want to eat you and you can swim farther and faster in search of food in a giant ocean. Birds use the same system to reduce heat loss though their long skinny legs and to keep oxygen levels in their lungs and flight muscles high at altitude.

A certain song keeps popping into my head: "AH-AH-AH-AH, stayin' alive, stayin' alive..."

An Award??!
Thursday, February 11, 2010 | Author: eventer79

Wow, so WWWT has been humbled by the granting of the "Happy 101" award from the great new blog, Anything Fits A Naked Man (which I was relieved to discover had nothing to do with naked men). I am not sure this technically counts as an award for any particular type of excellence, but I certainly do appreciate being included on someone's list of noteworthiness! So thank you so much to AFANM and all of my, like, four readers!

Here's the rules:
Copy award pic and add to your post.
List 10 things that make you happy.
Tag 10 bloggers who brighten your day and notify them of their win.
Link back to the blogger who gave you the award in your post.
Link to the new award winners.

10 things that make me happy:

1. Looking at my horse. Petting him, breathing the scent of his neck, riding him, sharing a long gaze with him. He is peace, patience, generosity of spirit, courage, and freedom.

2. Walking in the woods and hearing nothing but birdsong and the rustle of leaves at my feet.

3. Watching animals eat. I don't know why this entrances me so, but there is something of fulfillment and contentment in watching a creature eat its meal and the many interesting behaviours that go along with it.

4. Really bad silly jokes. One of my favourites: Two muffins were sitting in an oven. One said to the other, "Man, is it just me or is it getting hot in here?" The other one turned and said, "OMG, TALKING MUFFIN!!!!"

5. Wildflowers. Random and exuberant splashes of colour, even in the most unexpected places.

6. The call of migrating cranes. Something about their high, wild warble always makes me smile. It's such a unique sound -- you can hear some sandhill crane calls here.

7. Bluebirds. I always smile at bluebirds too. I can't explain why, it's another gut feeling of happiness when I see them.

8. Really good music. I don't mean the kind you hear on the radio. I mean real MUSIC. The kind that composers make for movies and orchestras. Swelling crescendos that fill up your whole body.

9. Baby animals. So cliche, but so true. I can't see one, not even ugly babies like vultures or koalas, and NOT laugh with their joy and play.

10. A really good book that I can relish and mentally roll around in.

And ten blogs that give me great pleasure to read, in no particular order:
1. TNC's Cool Green Science
2. Along Life's Highway
3. The Mugwump Chronicles
4. The Literary Horse
5. I Is Roxie
6. Eventing Nation
7. Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
8. I Can Has Cheezburger
9. When Lillies Fly
10. National Geographic Blogs
I Have Enormous Power!
Monday, February 08, 2010 | Author: eventer79
Once again, I summoned something with this blog!!!! Yes, view it, my first crocus bud, sprung just this weekend in the yard!!

That's right, that means hope hope hope, for spring is creeping near!! I wonder if my powers extend to other realms besides seasonal and celebrity summons...

Let me tell you about this crazy meteorological phenomenon in which sacks of money fall from the sky and land right on people's porches! It's a little known happening, but I have heard the next one is predicted for the American Southeast....

Fingers crossed, wanderers!

Wishing Makes It So
Friday, February 05, 2010 | Author: eventer79
Friday Fun Fact!

Ok, it may actually be rainsnowsleeting here right now, BUT my horse is shedding and there are buds on my wisteria so I firmly believe that spring is on its way!! So in honor of that and in hope of encouraging its onset, todays FFF is about my favourite little harbingers of spring: crocuses.

These cheerful little flowers were brought to the US by settlers from Europe. There are around 80 different crocus species, native to southern Europe, the Middle East, north Africa, and western China.

The flowers and leaves have a special waxy coating which allows them to thrive even when pushing through snow and ice.

Crocuses have a long and colourful history; it is said that the Greek deities Zeus and Hera loved each other so passionately that crocuses burst forth in profusion across all the land. In the 1560s, the Holy Roman Emperor's ambassador to the Sublime Porte (can you think of an awesomer job title?!) brough back crocus bulbs from Constantinople. Some of these were sent to a botanical garden and within 60 years, garden varieties had sprung into being. Today, they sprout merrily in my yard at the end of winter, assuring me that rescue from grey doldrums is imminent!