Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Birds and the Bees

After more than 70 years, the world's braintrusts have finally figured out how a bee is able to fly. It seems to me that it wouldn't have taken that long to learn to speak bee. Then, they could have just asked one. But we on the sentient end of things like to do stuff the hard way. I think it makes us feel better about ourselves. But for a species that claims to be so much smarter than those black and orange bugs, we were stumped for an embarassingly long time, if you ask me. Bees: 1. Humans: 0.

The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird, at about 5 centimeters in length. Hummingbirds are the only species of bird than can fly backward. Did you know that? I think that if I was an animal, I would be a hummingbird, simply because of the way they look while in flight. Body tilted forward, wings a blur, I can almost hear him yelling, "HERE I COME I'M COMING I'M ALMOST THERE HOLD ON I'M COMING OH MY GOD HERE I COME!" I feel like this describes my life. A lot.

Both bees and hummingbirds drink nectar, and are able to tell the sugar content of the nectar they're drinking. Magnificent mankind would have to use a machine for that. In fact, mankind wasn't even able to assess the amount of sugar in his own blood until 1962, when the first glucose enzyme electrode was invented, probably by a different set of braniacs from the ones who, at this point in time, were still staring at a bee going, "Wha...?" and scribbling furiously in notebooks. Hummingbirds: 1. Humans: 0.

We're behind, folks. But I don't think it's necessary to try and catch up. What is necessary, however, is to stop bragging that we're in first place. We're clearly not. Aspects of the natural world as simple as these have been smarter than us forever. To me, it's a solid counterargument to the "You can't believe in Science and God" line of thinking. (Insert quote from Nacho Libre here.) Either way, it's a poignant reminder to stop every now and again and look around. You might see a hummingbird flying backward, or a bee disproving everything we thought we knew, without even knowing he's doing it.

Bet you didn't think this was actually going to be about birds and bees, did you?

Monday, November 8, 2010


English is changing. The further technology takes us, the less we communicate with each other using our voices, it seems. In this era of keyboard or keypad communication, it quickly becomes tiresome to type out entire words. When you're messaging instantly, sending bits of information soaring through the interwebs, across the very globe to the computer or phone of your friend, colleague, whatever, who's got the time to actually spell "be right back"?! Acronyms are a new class of words on the rise and it's beat them or join them for the rest of us traditionalists. So I've decided to grab this revolution by the horns. I've come up with a few easy-to-use acronyms that will no doubt make everyone's lives more convenient:

IG2TSDUNA? - I'm going to the store, do you need anything?

HOAMIG2GFMC - Hang on a minute I've got to go feed my cat.

DUWTGBT? - Do you want to go bowling tonight?

WWTTOURHY? - What was that thing on your head yesterday?

OMGLYKEWDUGTKPOS? - Oh my god like where did you get that killer pair of socks?

DUCOTWITUA? - Did you check out that website I told you about?

WUSCIRLYA - Well you should 'cause it's really awesome.

JASLMCWIJSI - Just a second, let me see what I just stepped in.

OMGIWDP!! - Oh my god it was dog poop!!

HDUGDPOUS? - How do you get dog poop off your shoes?

S4UD - Sucks for you, dude.

IKROMGLYKEKTHXBAI :) - I know right oh my god like 'kay thanks bye :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Raindrop Races

When I was younger, riding in the car on a rainy day, I would often lose myself, watching the raindrops slide across the windshield. I used to imagine them with personalities, all trying to reach that part of the windshield where the wipers couldn't reach, collecting smaller raindrops on their way, which would make them bigger and faster. I imagined them all huddled together down in that one triangle at the bottom where the wipers never reached, waiting until they thought they had a chance, then they'd take off. I imagined the little ones as children, and the big ones as adults. Groups of them were families, all fleeing to safety together. The drops that had made it safely to the top waited and cheered them on, welcoming them when they arrived.

But inevitably, they didn't all make it. Some of them were swept away by the giant, malicious windshield wipers, while the others watched in horror. Some of them, separated from the rest of their families, would cry on the shoulders of others, wondering how they would continue on, feeling responsible and guilty and wishing it had been them.

I worry about the little me, sometimes.

If I was in the back seat, I would watch them race from the top front corner of the window to the bottom corner, gobbling up the little drops in their paths. That was always an epic sprint, each of them engaged in fierce competition with the next, all headed for that prize. I don't think I ever actually thought of what the prize was, I just knew that it was important and would change the life of the lucky raindrop that won. Every once in a while one would slow to a stop in the middle of the window. Sometimes I would tap the glass in an effort to help him along, but most of the time I was a neutral spectator. Often, those would become fuel for a bigger, faster droplet as it sped toward the imaginary finish line.

No one ever won these races, as far as I was concerned. That might have been because I could never see the finish line. I guess I always imagined it was off in the distance somewhere, and I was only viewing part of the course. The winner was never important to me; I just watched droplet after droplet race across the window. There's probably some philosophical, proverbial point I could make here, about the journey being more important than the destination, or about enjoying things as simple as raindrops on a car window, but I'm not going to. I'm going to leave this one as it is, as I know my younger self would have done.