Connecting Dots

I’m a big fan of NPR (National Public Radio). While I’m running errands I listen to NPR in the car, and I always feel a bit smarter and better informed afterwards. I’m probably a genius by now, but that’s a conservative guess.

Yesterday I listened to a TED Talk program on NPR about how people are losing their ability to listen. We’re so consumed with our electronics and so bombarded by constant information that we’ve begun to tune out real conversation. The speaker, Julian Treasure, offered five exercises to help improve listening skills. I’ve shared it in case you’re curious.

https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better?language=en&utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

I also listened to a segment about bears on the RadioLab program, the most fascinating of which was a piece on the phenomenon of polar bear/grizzly bear hybrids. A hunter in Alaska related his tale of tracking a polar bear who uncharacteristically, for his species, was breaking into cabins. The hunter shot the bear, but he knew it wasn’t a standard, run-of-the-mill polar bear. Its coloring was odd and its fur patterning didn’t fit a standard polar bear.

The bear was studied by geneticists and confirmed to be a hybrid of two different bear species. Not only that. It was a second generation offspring–one of its parents had also been a hybrid. So unlike other animal kingdom hybrids, the offspring are capable of reproducing.

Further testing on other hybrid bears indicated that all of the hybrids are descended from just one female polar bear who had produced three litters with two different male grizzlies. This is mind-blowing. The researchers pondered on why this particular female had been attracted to male grizzlies.

I’d like to offer my theory. I think those male grizzlies were just better listeners.

And that’s how you connect the dots.

Again, if you’re interested in the bear episodes here’s the link to the program. The one about the hybrids is the last on the link.

https://lnns.co/N6H3w91ZOba

Peace, people.

King of the Road

Thursday morning NPR’s program, Fresh Air, featured an interview with Dean Miller, son of the deceased country singer, Roger Miller. Dean has compiled a tribute album, actually a double album, of his father’s music and was promoting it in an interview with the wonderful Terry Gross. I listened as I drove into Tallahassee to do some grocery shopping.

Roger Miller was one of my favorites growing up. Even when I detested country music I still enjoyed his songs: “King of the Road,” “England Swings,” “Husbands and Wives,” “The Last Word in Lonesome is Me,” and so many more. No one put words together like Roger, and the interview with his son brought back some great memories of trying to sing along with his novelty songs like, “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd,” and “Oo-de-Lally.”

I’m tempted to order King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller. Here’s what LA Times pop music critic, Mikael Woods writes about the album,

Various artists, “King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller” (BMG)

Country stars young and old — from Kacey Musgraves and Lennon & Maisy to Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn — crowd this double-disc set to honor the late Nashville songwriter best known for the oft-covered “King of the Road.” (Some non-country types show up too, including Ringo Starr and, uh, Toad the Wet Sprocket.) If anybody was worried about being overshadowed, though, you can hardly tell: What distinguishes the project is the care each act takes to respectfully showcase Miller’s top-shelf wordplay. The result is the rare tribute album with class to spare.”

Sounds like the perfect soundtrack for my autumn. Couldn’t we all use a little “Do-Wacka-Do,” and “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd,” in our lives right now? I certainly could.

https://youtu.be/UI-Y0CMGwxo

Peace, people.

What Would You Remember?

This morning while Studly played for the final day in his club’s golf tournament I decided to take myself to brunch at the Canopy Road Cafe on Apalachee Parkway in Tallahassee. It’s a bit of a drive from Doright Manor to this cafe, so I had plenty of time to listen to an entire episode of NPR’s RadioLab on Sirius/XM.

The segment that gave me pause was one about a music conductor who suffered an illness that resulted in him having the worst case of amnesia ever recorded. He literally could not remember what happened from one minute to the next. He attempted to keep a journal at the urging of his nurses, but the entries went something like It’s 8:02 and I am fully awake. This was followed by, It is now 8:03, and I’m truly awake. Then, It is 8:04 and I am awake!This pattern continued until something else occurred in his routine.

Since I was driving I didn’t write down his name, but I do remember that of his wife, Claudia. I remember because she was one of only two touchstones in his life. He might not always remember her name, but he lit up when he saw her and he wanted only to be near her, to kiss her, and to enjoy her hugs.

He also remembered how to read music and could sing lyrics to familiar songs. Claudia brought his choir members to the facility in which he lived, and her husband was able to conduct their performance as if nothing had ever changed.

All I could think of as I ate my omelet this morning was what would I remember if inflicted with a similar fate. Would it be Studly Doright’s face? Those of my children? Would it be my favorite books or movies? What would survive an almost complete memory loss?

There’s no way of knowing, of course, and I hope I never have to deal with Alzheimer’s or dementia, or any other memory stealing event. Still, maybe I need to begin reinforcing pleasant memories. Note to self: Give Studly a big hug and kiss when he returns from golf today.

What do you think you’d remember? Are there things you wouldn’t mind not being able to recall? That’s dangerous territory.

Peace, people.

Nothing to Say

  

I had nothing to say today

So I’m not going to say it.

Of course if I’m being honest

I’ve already said something.

Dadgum it’s hard for me,

This wordless disposition.

I’m sure it’s a temporary

State of my current condition.

I was listening to NPR’s TED talks series on Sunday. The main story that morning was about a man who decided to stop talking for one day. That one day turned into twelve years. I couldn’t imagine going without speaking for ten minutes unless I was sleeping. But twelve years? 

When I commented on this to Studly Doright he smiled politely and said, “I’d sure like to see you try.”

I’m not sure how I should take that.  

  
Peace, people!

Sweating the Small Stuff

  
In a perfect world we’d all be as chill as this cat. 

Instead, I seem to follow the scenario below:

  
Like my mother before me, if I don’t have something to worry about I get worried. I heard recently in an interview on NPR that humans developed the ability to worry as a survival skill. At least I think that’s what the expert said. If so, I’m well equipped to survive. Unless of course I’m not. I guess I should worry about that, as well.

  
Peace, people!

The Songs of Whales

humpback males sing soulfully
beautiful songs beyond belief.
who among us can listen and
doubt their deep intelligence?

we only share this earth
it is not ours alone,
yet we have pretended,
squandered, and decimated.

This poem was inspired by a story on National Public Radio. I’ve linked to it below. I must admit, the songs made me cry.

http://www.npr.org/2015/08/06/427851306/it-took-a-musicians-ear-to-decode-the-complex-song-in-whale-calls?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20150806

  

Peace, people!

Occupied/Ocupado

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Picture this, if you will: You find yourself far from home and in need of using the restroom. Your only option is at a convenience store gas station. The bathroom is a one-seater, and you carefully lock the door behind you before placing at least three layers of tissue on the well worn public toilet seat. Even with the toilet thus protected you still hover slightly above the seat, anxious to keep a distance twixt your pristine nether cheeks and the oft used porcelain. Whew!

Then, someone turns the knob, or gives a polite knock. What is your response?

“Just a minute!”

“Someone’s in here!”

“Hold your horses!”

“Ocupado!”

My personal favorite is, “Hey, don’t get your panties in a wad!”

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I heard this question posed on NPR’s “A Way With Words,” last week. Surprisingly, a good many English speakers admit to saying “Ocupado” (Spanish for “Occupied”) in this situation. The hosts of the show thought perhaps this response could be traced to the bilingual labeling on restroom door locks on airplanes. It also could reflect Americans’ love of foreign phrases: ciao and adios for goodbye, for example.

I’m curious. What do you say in this bathroom scenario?

(Program plug: I highly recommend the program, “A Way With Words.” They can be found at http://www.waywordradio.org and on Facebook, as well. If you love words, like I love words, check them out.)

Just in case you need a bathroom etiquette guide, I found this one on Pinterest:

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Peace, people!