The Annual Great Escape

Weather in central Indiana is, at best, unpredictable.  Last week it hit about minus two degrees and there was snow on the ground, and Tuesday it was 60 degrees at 9 am.  We’re back in the thirties again, but while driving to the store this morning I was surprised to see a small flock of birds gathering on a clump of trees.  Shouldn’t they already have flown South for the Winter?

Imagine my surprise a few miles later to see another flock of birds gathering off trees and clumping together to head South.  Did they not get the memo either?  While I sat here munching on breakfast (a blueberry muffin and some cocoa with mini-marshmallows) I snooped around on the web looking for dets on bird migration.

My main conclusion?  We don’t understand it at all.

Birds seem to migrate when food gets scarce, or when the weather gets cold, or when evolutionary pressure tells them it’s time.  Or maybe when they get bored?

I hadn’t given much thought to hummingbirds migrating, but apparently they do, with an airspeed of about 27.5 miles per hour.

[insert your own joke about swallow air speeds here]

I can understand birds moving when food gets scarce, or when it gets too cold, but the evidence for evolutionary pressure is supported by indoor birds in cages that apparently try flying against their cages to head South or North at specific times during the year.

Birds gathering somewhere and moving in flocks I totally get – we have birds in the house, some of which even get to fly around the house at times.  When some show had a flock of birds flying together across the screen one of the birds flew towards the television and tried to fly in the direction the other birds were flying…fortunately for all involved the bird stopped before it smashed into the wall.

Nobody has much evidence for any theories about how birds navigate…built-in GPS seems to be a common assumption.  `Maybe we can eventually figure out how to genetically modify our DNA to have a built-in GPS ourselves -clearly some people who don’t get lost in the woods have at least some ability in that direction already … probably an affinity to magnetic fields.  A simple story would then propose an evil villain of some sort will generate a massive electro-magnetic field, leaving people lost and confused until they pay ransom to get it turned off…

Carrie Fisher died two days ago, and the next day her mother died.  While Carrie’s death was a shock to us all, Debbie Reynold’s death was far more disturbing to me: can people really die from a broken heart?  It’s probably difficult for most people to understand how Debbie was a major star at 23, and how her marriage and divorce from Eddie Fisher was big enough news to end up on the front page of nearly every newspaper (and don’t ask, “What’s a newspaper?”  They should be around for at least another ten years or so).

Here’s Debbie five years after she was in Singing In the Rain, singing Tammy’s In Love:

Rembert’s Blog Origin Story

An origin story!

Like most good ideas, setting up this blog started to seem like a good idea while I was taking a shower.  I wasn’t even thinking about setting up a blog, but clearly my sleepy mind was connecting to some part of my brain that works best when I’m sleeping, and a line of music crept into my mind:

  “What to leave in, what to leave out”

The line is from an old Bob Seger tune (“Against the Wind”) and probably had to do with a problem faced by truly successful artists: when planning a concert, which songs will you probably include and which songs will you will definitely not include.  When writing a daily blog (daily?  really?) there are usually things you really want to include, stuff you really don’t want anybody else to know about, and lots of topics that fall somewhere in between.

When I was in fourth grade we  were dropped into the library for an hour from time to time, and I used to spend some of my time with the encyclopedias – I would pick a random volume, open to a random page, and just start reading.  The web in some ways resembles a cross between that and a stack of old daily newspapers, but that suits me fine.  I love scanning news articles, catching a name or phrase that isn’t familiar to me and running after it.  Each website usually leads to more searches and more websites; sometimes I close the pages and get back to where I started, but sometimes I simply delve deeper and deeper until it’s time to go.  What I like most is finding something to read that is new to me, and that’s where I hope this blog will take readers – into an unstructured series of topics that may or may not be related to each other.

With any luck, each day will bring something new.  I’ve already started a list of topics for the next week or two, and I’ll see what I can do to keep that going.

For now, here’s Bob and the band singing  Against the Wind with the lyrics.