Bike Cam Videos–Two Wild Rides



From John:

Click on blue to go directly to video:

Insane:        Watch for backflip and jumps.                                               


Long ride:   Spot John on green bike?                                



Auto Wreck


Auto Wreck

Its quick soft silver bell beating, beating,                                                                               And down the dark one ruby flare
Pulsing out red light like an artery,
The ambulance at top speed floating down
Past beacons and illuminated clocks
Wings in a heavy curve, dips down,
And brakes speed, entering the crowd.
The doors leap open, emptying light;
Stretchers are laid out, the mangled lifted
And stowed into the little hospital.
Then the bell, breaking the hush, tolls once.
And the ambulance with its terrible cargo
Rocking, slightly rocking, moves away,
As the doors, an afterthought, are closed.

We are deranged, walking among the cops
Who sweep glass and are large and composed.
One is still making notes under the light.
One with a bucket douches ponds of blood
Into the street and gutter.                                                                                                     One hangs lanterns on the wrecks that cling,                                                                   Empty husks of locusts, to iron poles.

Our throats were tight as tourniquets,
Our feet were bound with splints, but now,                                                                        Like convalescents intimate and gauche,                                                                           We speak through sickly smiles and warn                                                                        With the stubborn saw of common sense,                                                                          The grim joke and the banal resolution.                                                                              The traffic moves around with care,                                                                                      But we remain, touching a wound                                                                                        That opens to our richest horror.

Already old, the question Who shall die?
Becomes unspoken Who is innocent?
For death in war is done by hands;
Suicide has cause and stillbirth, logic;
And cancer, simple as a flower, blooms.
But this invites the occult mind,
Cancels our physics with a sneer,
And spatters all we knew of denouement
Across the expedient and wicked stones.

Karl Shapiro

Animal Thoughts

What Are Animals Really Thinking? Author Explores Hidden World

A portrait of a Belgian Malinois.

Animals like this Belgian Malois “aren’t just robots—they truly are living, sentient beings,” says the author.


Book cover for "Animal Wise" by Virginia Morell.PHOTOGRAPH OF BOOK JACKET COURTESY VIRGINIA MORELL

Christine Dell’Amore

National Geographic   FEBRUARY 23, 2014

What do animals think and feel? This question, which has long intrigued science writer and author Virginia Morell, is explored in her new book Animal Wise.

Partly inspired by her 2008 National Geographic magazine article, “Animal Minds,” the book was just named a finalist for the 2013 L.A. Times Book Prize in Science and Technology.  Click for article:  Animal Minds

From ants that teach, to earthworms that make decisions, to rats that love to be tickled, Morell aims to reshape our understanding of animals and their emotions. For the book, she shadowed several innovative scientists investigating the animal psyche, focusing on well-known species such as dolphins and the domestic dog.

We caught up with Morell to ask her about her book and what she wants us to know about what’s going on in an animal’s head.

How did this book come about?

I’ve been an animal lover all of my life, and the first book I wrote was a biography of the Leakey family, Ancestral Passions. For that work I went to Gombe Stream National Park to interview Jane Goodall. She thought it was important to spend time watching the chimpanzees, and it was very evident from the first chimpanzee I met that there was a lot going on in their minds. So when I finished the book, I decided to look into the field of evolutionary biology overall.

One of the things evolutionary biologists began to become more and more interested in, in the late ’80s and ’90s, was evolution of mind—it’s not something that appeared because we stepped on the planet. Darwin said evolution didn’t just include our physical body, but our emotional side as well. (See pictures of amazingly smart animals.)

The point I try to make at the end of the book is we’re on this new frontier—we’re recognizing that there are minds in every animal around us on the planet, and how remarkable that is. I would sit and think about that: The little jumping spider in my office, the birds in my yard—everyone has a brain, their neurons are firing, they’re making decisions. If nothing else they have places to go and things to do. They’re not just stumbling through life as zombies.

Are people surprised by that? What has been your reaction from readers?

I get messages from people that my book changed their lives and opened up a whole new way of looking at the world. Some say, “I can’t kill the ants on my kitchen counter anymore.” It seems to have opened people’s minds and hearts to recognizing that the other animals aren’t just robots—they truly are living, sentient beings. What an amazing world we live in, to be surrounded by all these other minds.

What challenges did you discover in observing scientists probing animal minds?

One is to show an animal is planning ahead. You have to come up with really clever experiments. There is also this idea that animals are supposedly stuck in time, that they’re only in the present and have no sense of the past and future. Trying to verify if that is the case is one of the challenges that remain.

Certainly showing animals are conscious is still a challenge: First we have to find neurons that create consciousness in people, then [we] can do comparative studies with animals. But right now we don’t have a framework in which to study emotions—it’s easier to find out if an animal can count.

People are figuring out origins of speech. It will be a huge achievement to show animals have building blocks toward speech and language. (Watch a video of intelligent animals.)

How has this book changed your life? Has it made you a vegetarian, for instance?

I do eat chicken and I eat fish, but not great quantities of each. I’ve wrestled a lot with this: Our society as a whole is trying to have better relationships with other animals, and we worry about the fact they’re sentient.

At the same time we are carnivores and omnivores, and we’re going to eat meat. [During book tours and talks], I decided I wasn’t going to say, “I’m a vegetarian” just because people want that to be the case … It [sounds] sanctimonious.

What can we do to make sure animals have good lives? My own concern is much more for the animals in the wild whose habitat we’re gobbling up in all directions and making it very difficult for them to live good lives. As humans, can’t we do better? We are the dominant force on the planet, and we have to be looking out for them.

Anything else about your book you want to say?

I think it’s fun to read. I’ve been told people laugh out loud at certain things: I think the dolphin-sex chapter is quite illuminating for people.

It’s not an intimidating read: The scientists are like my characters. It’s storytelling—I tell stories about the scientists and the animals, and I present myself as an everyperson walking into this world and saying, “Wow, this is amazing.”

My book tackles the question of what is it like to be a fish, an ant, a parrot, etc. And it also asks what is it like to be an animal behaviorist—to be the person attempting to answer these challenging questions. Who are these scientists? Who is the person who discovered that rats laugh? What made him think the were laughing? They’ve been used in scientific experiments for more than a hundred years; yet not untilJaak Panksepp watched them did we know that they laugh.

Click for source.


Cars Crash into Buildings


The  Social Security office in Evanston is helping people only on the phone just now because a car had been driven into the building.  The person I talked to there said the same thing had happened when she was working at another SSA office,

Awhile ago I spent 20 minutes in our public library and left to find the parking lot filled with police cars and fire equipment   Someone had driven a car into a parking space and then on through a large window in the book processing office.

Crash-proof garage walls-car-thru-gar-wall.jpg

About the same time the Panero Bread store in Wilmette was damaged by a car.  Panera has suffered  similar surprises in Ann Arbor, Dayton, Sioux City, and Lenexa, Kansas.

A Google search shows that this kind of thing happens very often with drivers of all ages who have hit the accelerator instead of the break.

Come to think of it, have you noticed that some stores have heavy steel posts planted in concrete across their entrances?

Bob Harris


On Saturday, Alice attended a memorial service for Bob Harris at her Church, Northminster Presbyterian in Evanston.  Bob’s sons attended the service: Robert, Spencer, and Ed, high successful movie actor.  Ed arranged for his father to have a small part in some of his films.  I’ve seen Bob perform in Northminster Players’ shows at the church.  He had a beautiful speaking voice, had done some professional singing.

Bob L. Harris - P - 2014Bob Ha

Alice and I watched an early afternoon showing of Ed’s movie Pollock with just two other people in the theater.  We discovered they were Bob with another Northminster member, stage actress Anne Whitney !
Ed Harris PictureEd Harris Click here for more about Ed.
Click here for  Obituary for Bob


Nasty Doc


I need to tell about something that’s been bothering me for a long time.

Back view of male doctor in lab coat..

Dr. R. was the senior partner of the large pediatric practice where I worked far too many years.  I was his medical assistant, working ten hour days, twelve on Fridays with Saturday rotations.

He had frequent tantrums which included pen and chart throwing– once kicked a file cabinet,  breaking a toe.  At an office holiday party he SOLD homemade dog biscuits.  I could go on.

The office scheduled physicals for his patients whose parents worked during the day on Friday nights, all the staff but me leaving at five o’clock.

One Friday night, our patient named Jose had an appointment.  Jose was ten yrs. old, but the size of a five-year-old because of cerebral palsy. Twenty minutes late, Mr. H. came in apologizing, carrying his son Jose because the family could not afford a wheelchair.  Jose’s father was wearing the green uniform of a landscaper, soiled from a long day’s work.  Dr. R. refused to see them.  I wanted to cry.

The same night, fifty-five minutes late,  Mrs. B., who did not work arrived with her daughter and no apology.  This family lived in Wynstone, a gated community where the houses are the size of cathedrals, so Dr. R. went out of his way to make them feel welcome.

As we were closing I confronted him about his actions, normally very difficult for me, but I had little Jose in mind and was really angry.  He only leered at me with his most condescending attitude and said nothing.  I resigned my job right there.

I got two phone calls from him, one that night, urging me to go back to work for him.  I’d had enough though;  the man disgusted me.

Susan Nowak








Wonderful Sounds


One Man’s Quest To Find The ‘Sonic Wonders Of The World’

Click here for source:     Sonic Wonders
Why does thunder rumble? Acoustic professor Trevor Cox explains that it has to do with the way lightning is a jagged line. "Each little kink is actually generating the sound, and the reason thunder rumbles is because the sound takes different time to come from different kinks because they're all slightly different distances from you," he says.

Why does thunder rumble? Acoustic professor Trevor Cox explains that it has to do with the way lightning is a jagged line. “Each little kink is actually generating the sound, and the reason thunder rumbles is because the sound takes different time to come from different kinks because they’re all slightly different distances from you,” he says.

Mariana Suarez/AFP/Getty Images

The Sound Book  The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World by Trevor Cox

 Ever wonder why your voice sounds so much better when you sing in the shower? It has to do with an acoustic “blur” called reverberation. From classical to pop music, reverberation “makes music sound nicer,” acoustic engineer Trevor Cox tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. It helps blend the sound, “but you don’t want too much,” he warns.

Cox is the author of The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World.He has developed new ways of improving the sound in theaters and recording studios. He’s also studied what he describes as the sonic wonders of the world — like whispering arches and singing sand dunes. His sonic travels have taken him many places, including the North Sea, where he recorded the sound of bottlenose dolphins underwater, and down into a revolting Victorian era sewer, where he discovered a curving sound effect he’d not heard before.

               To hear the sounds, listen to the interview, or read the full transcript, click here:
               Hear, listen, read
On how a gunshot in an anechoic chamber — a room that absorbs the reflection of the sound — is quieter than a snap

You walk into this chamber through some very large steel doors and the first thing that kind of strikes you is you’re [standing] on a trampoline floor of wire, because all around you on the floor, on the walls, and on the ceiling are these strange gray foam wedges, and they’re there to completely absorb any reflection. So when you hear the gunshot all you hear is the shot coming straight from the gun, or in this case, the microphone and there’s no effect of a room at all. … We don’t normally hear sounds without the effect of a room. We normally have walls around us reflecting sound.

On whispering galleries

There’s a variety of them around the world. In England the most famous one is St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, where you go up to the base of the dome … and you whisper into the wall and the sound skims around the inside of the dome to be heard by your friend who is way, way across on the other side. It sounds like the sound is emerging from the walls and you can have a conversation 100 feet apart from each other.

On how to design a concert hall

We want this reverberance — this sense [that] the sound lingers a bit after the orchestra finishes for a couple of seconds. [It] is typically a design criteria. And to do that, concert halls are really very large. So normally, if you sit in a concert hall and look up you’ll see it’s a huge volume, really high ceiling, that’s to give you that reverberance.

But also we want to get rid of things which deaden the sound, you know, soft stuff like curtaining and carpets are all bad news. If you look around a concert hall, all the walls and the ceiling are really hard materials. There’s a sort of myth around the concert halls made of wood that wood vibrates but if you were to take the wood off you’d find it’s glued to concrete behind. There’s no way that wood is vibrating at all.

And a third, key criteria is to make sure we get lots of sound from the sides. If you ever hear one of those concerts when they play outdoors, it sounds a bit remote, like the people are playing on the stage from a distance. In a concert hall, you’re kind of surrounded by sound, that sense of envelopment is created by sound coming from the side.

On how sound travels underwater

[Sound travels] more efficiently [in water] than in air. It’s the same kind of process in the fact that you’ve got a wave, and air is being passed from air molecule to air molecule, whereas in water it’s being passed from water molecule to water molecule. It just happens to be that in water it goes further, which is another reason why aquatic animals like to use it — because it can travel huge, great distances underwater in a way that it never would do in the air. It would die away much quicker.

On why thunder “rumbles”

What’s amazing about thunder is when you hear it, it’s actually got that crack and then it’s got the rumble afterwards. As a kid, when you drew thunderstorms you would’ve drawn the lightning with that jagged line. If you didn’t have that jagged line, you wouldn’t have the rumble of the thunder.

… The visual look of lightning is really crucial to how the thunder sounds. … Each little kink is actually generating the sound, and … the sound takes different time to come from different kinks because they’re all slightly different distances from you. That’s the reason you get that very distinct rumble sound.

And the “singing sands” in the Mojave Desert:  Click: 1. VIDEO Singing Sands           2.  Kelso Dunes

Links Alive!

 Platypus is one of a few mammals that lay eggs and are able to locate prey by  electroreception–detecting electric fields generated by muscular contractions.


Hurray!  With John’s patient coaching, I’ve learned to put a live link in the blog so that a reader can jump from the blog directly to another web page, like this:

Just click on the blue title here to see a video about the remarkable platypus.                                                                                                                    Platypus VIDEO:


How wolves saved Yellowstone Park


When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable “trophic cascade” occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix.

Click on the blue title here to go directly to the VIDEO:

 4-minute video     How Wolves Change Rivers

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir,” father of the national parks”