For many years, Canadian Tire Corporation, Canada’s largest
retailer, has been providing amusing television commercials around
Christmas, as well as at other times of year. This Christmas season
is no exception, as the company has taken to the airwaves to
promote a variety of products on a Christmas theme.
Who wouldn’t like a pasta-maker? How you serve the finished
pasta is up to you, as you’ll see in the first video on this
Another Christmas series by Canadian Tire features the Eh Bee
family. Check out “Eh Bee Falcon Flight School” in the second video
player on this page. Other commercials can be launched from the
“The Eh Bee Family tackles Giftmas.”
Last Christmas, a commercial told the story of a young boy who
was worrying that Santa would not be able to find him after his
family moved to a new home. See the video in the third player on
Canadian Tire, a 90-year-old company, has been featuring
Christmas commercials since at least 1985, as you can see in the
final video featuring Santa Claus and Ebenezer Scrooge talking
together and pondering the price of a Commodore 128 or Commodore 64
Ashanti, the singer, songwriter and record producer, has come up
with an interesting way to release her latest single while urging
people to drink water instead of sweet drinks.
The single, called “Let’s Go,” was released in a “dehydrated”
form, stripped of lively elements, clear images, colorful lighting
and dynamic sound. Ashanti has asked her fans to “hydrate” the
music and video by using the hashtag “#DrinkUpAshanti” on social
media, such as Twitter and Instgram.
As of this morning, I believe the “Let’s Go” video has reached
the third of four levels and should soon reach its full
entertainment potential. At that point, the song will be for sale
on iTunes and other music outlets. The first video on this page
describes the making of the video and demonstrates the four phases
I’ve never heard of a promotion like this, but Ashanti is using
this approach to support First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign
called Partnership for a
Healthier America and its Drink Up effort, which
encourages people to drink more water to support their health.
The video player at DrinkUpAshanti.com is clever, because one
can pause it when graphic elements, such as flowers and stars, come
into view. Click on the white circles that appear, and you’ll see
the Twitter handles that helped to “hydrate” it. Add your own
Twitter handle, and you will be assigned a flower and can see who
is sharing that graphic element with you.
The Genius.com website
shows the four levels of hydration and provides lyrics to the new
song for anyone who wants them.
“I love that my song is being used to encourage people to make a
really easy choice: drinking more water every day,” Ashanti said in
news release. “It’s even more rewarding when it’s being done in
a creative, positive way.
“Drinking water is in … it’s just cool and sexy. You are what
you drink, so drink up. It’s also a pleasure to work with the First
Lady again to help make the healthy choice the easy choice.”
Ashanti explains her involvement in the campaign in an interview
shown on the Valder Beebe Show, an Internet video blog. See the
second video above.
In the early days of “Amusing Monday,” I featured a lot of
water-related animals. Somehow I never got around to tossing
together a potpourri of duck-related videos and activities.
Geoducks, yes, but not the kind of duck that swims on water and
waddles on land.
I need to begin this blog post with a compilation video of Mihai
Francu’s pet duck, captured over time as the little duckling grows
up. Mihai, a Cyprus-based photographer, has compiled a nice
collection of short videos, which can be viewed on his
YouTube Channel. First, take a look at the top video on this
Duck jokes, anyone, as old and musty as these seem to be?
Q: What do you call two ducks and a cow? A: Quackers and milk
Q: What do you call it when it rains chickens
and ducks? A: Fowl weather
Q: What did the duck carry his schoolbooks
in? A: His quackpack.
Q: Why did the duck fly south for the
winter? A: Because it was too far to walk.
Q: What happens when a duck flies upside
down? A: He quacks up.
Q: Which bird refused to keep his eyes
closed? A: The Peking duck.
Customer: How much is that duck? Shopkeeper: Ten dollars. Customer: Okay, could you please send me the
bill? Shopkeeper: I’m sorry, but you’ll have to take the
Q: What do you call a cat that swallows a
duck? A: A duck-filled-fatty-puss
Q: How do you get down off a horse? A: You don’t get down off a horse. You get down
off a duck.
Duck talk: Two ducks were sitting on a pond.
One went “Quack quack!” The other replied, “That’s funny. I was
just about to say that!”
Remember the 1984 Ninendo video game called “Duck Hunt”?
Teenagers today were not even born when this game came out, so it
was fun to see their reaction in a video by REACT, the first video
in the three below. The next two videos are parodies of the
Two years ago in
“Water Ways,” I revealed that Daffy Duck was my favorite
cartoon character, and I featured a video showing the evolution of
Daffy over time. It was by WatchMojo.com. In August, WatchMojo came
out with a new video pitting the personal and comedy styles of
Daffy Duck against those of Donald Duck. You’ll find this video in
the second player on this page.
On a more artistic front, students from across the country have
been producing beautiful duck portraits for the past 22 years. In
“Water Ways” featured the best entries from the annual Federal
Junior Duck Stamp Contest.;
Finally, for children as well as the rest of us, you one can
find numerous videos to illustrate the numbers-learning song “Five
Little Ducks.” One of the best on the web is the video below by
I’ve always enjoyed listening to sounds, whether it be easily
identified natural sounds or mysterious sounds that are hard to
When I was kid, I was given a tape recorder, which I used to
collect all sorts of natural and unnatural sounds. I would play
back the sounds and ask people if they could identify the source.
Even as an aging adult, I enjoy listening to the sound of a flowing
stream, breaking waves or falling rain. I also like to listen to
bird calls, and I keep telling myself that I need to learn how to
identify more of them — but that’s another story.
For this blog, I would like to return again to this idea of
natural sound and share some websites where you can listen to your
heart’s content and sometimes shape the sound itself. Since this is
a blog about water, I’ve tended to focus on rain, streams, oceans
and such things, but these links can be just a starting point.
Soundsnap is a website
that boasts of having 200,000 sounds in its catalog, including
6,000 sounds of
nature. Included are 249 sounds of rain, 117 sounds of the
sea, 1,065 sounds
of water and
298 sounds of ice. These sounds can be
downloaded for a fee, but it costs nothing to explore Sound Snap’s
At the other end of the spectrum is a single 11-hour YouTube
video featuring the sound and images of ocean waves. I have not
listened to more than a few minutes of this video at a time, so I
don’t know what happens if you turn on this video to go to sleep
and then leave it on all night. But the sound coming from the video
is certainly more pleasant than the nightly sounds that some people
learn to tolerate. The video, embedded on this page, was posted by
which has several videos of a similar vein.
If you would like to download a sound to save it or use it in a
video project, Sound Bible is a
royalty-free site with a large collection of sounds. I downloaded
the files below from collections called “Sea Sounds” and “Water
Robert Tiso, a master musician who plays classical music on
water glasses, has released several new videos of his music, which
is nothing less than mesmerizing.
I first encountered Robert six years ago and featured his “glass
Water Ways Nov. 9, 2009, after corresponding with him by email.
His biography is fairly well outlined in that blog post. I believe
he was in Italy at the time.
It is worth mentioning again that Robert performed in a DVD
documentary “Bach and
Friends” by filmaker Michael Lawrence. View the Robert Tiso
performance on the
At the beginning of last year, Tiso moved to the United States,
where he performed in Las Vegas as part of an eclectic production
called “Vegas Nocturne.” The production was featured at
Rose.Rabbit.Lie, a venue at the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino. He
has since returned to Toscana, Italy, but still performs all over
The first two of these videos can be found on this page. The
Water Adagio is from Bach’s violin concerto 2 in E Major. The first
phase of the piece was used in a movie by Pierpaolo Pasolini for
scenes in which Jesus Chris performed miracles, according to notes
on the YouTube page. In this performance, the tone oscillations are
created by tilting the table to make water move inside the
A whole series of videos by Robert Tiso can be found on his
Channel, including an intriguing duet with Felice
Pantone, who plays the mysterious musical saw. I remain as
intrigued by Robert’s music as when I first heard it.
Later, I learned that Benjamin Franklin loved the sound created
by crystalline glass. As an inventor, Franklin believed it was a
waste of time to fill and tune each water glass when they could be
made to play just as beautifully without water, provided they were
made to the proper size. Read about his amazing invention in
Water Ways from June 3, 2013.
Nudibranchs, soft-bodied mollusks often called “sea slugs,” are
among the most ornately decorated creatures in the sea. With about
3,000 species of nudibranchs coming in all shapes and colors, I
thought it might be fun to track down some of these animals.
Nudibranchs are found in all the world’s oceans, but you don’t
need to go beyond Puget Sound to find some of the most beautiful
ones. I’m grateful to Dan Hershman, a retired Seattle teacher,
part-time musician and underwater naturalist, who shared some of
his best photos of sea slugs from this region. Check out Dan’s
The word nudibranch (pronounced nude-eh-brank) comes from the
Latin word nudus, meaning naked, and brankhia, meaning gills. So
these are animals with naked gills, which often grow out of their
backs and sides. These creatures can be as small as a quarter-inch
or as long as a foot or more.
Nudibranchs are carnivores, eating things ranging from algae to
anemones, barnacles and even other nudibranchs. They can pick up
coloring for camouflage and even poisons from the prey they eat,
using the chemicals in defense against predators.
Hermaphrodites with reproductive organs of both sexes, these
animals don’t normally self-fertilize. But they are prepared to
mate with any mature individual of the same species. Eventually,
they will lay masses of spiral-shaped or coiled eggs.
Elements — the basic building blocks of chemistry — come alive
in cartoon characters created by Kaycie Dunlap, who created 112
individual illustrations for her senior project at Milwaukee
Institute of Art and Design.
Kaycie, whose website is KcD Studios, got the idea for her
elemental characters in high school chemistry class while watching
a video, according to a profile of Kaycie in the online magazine
“Women You Should Know.” In the video, the narrator acted out a
few of the elements.
“High school chemistry class used to be confusing at best,”
Kaycie said. “Then I imagined what the elements would be like as
characters. Suddenly everything became a lot more interesting.”
Kaycie’s characters fall into one of three themes. My favorites
are those in which the properties of the element are embodied in
the cartoon figure. For example, fluorine, a highly reactive
element, is depicted as an angry woman with fiery hair. Hydrogen,
being the lightest element, floats in the air and has the ability
to control water.
Some characters describe how they are used. Aluminum is a strong
and lightweight female drinking a lot of soft drinks. Other
characters simply depict the person for whom the element is named.
It is impressive how Kaycie is able to convey a truly unique
personality for each character.
Her original exhibit, “Elements — Experiments in Character
Design,” was first shown at the 2011 MIAD Thesis Expedition, where
observers could press a key on a touchscreen to call up any of 72
elements and see the cartoon character with a sample of the
material. She later completed another 50 characters. (See MIAD
Kaycie, who now creates illustrations for a game company in San
Francisco, has developed a set of flashcards to help students
remember the elements. Each card features a cartoon character on
one side and basic information about the element on the other side.
her shop at Etsy. In her spare time, she is also working on a
story in which she hopes to bring the elemental characters
When a group of physicists put their minds to working on the
subject of urination, they discovered that mammals of all sizes
take about the same amount of time to pee.
It’s a matter of fluid mechanics, and it turns out that mammals
above 3 kilograms in weight — from dogs to elephants — empty their
bladders in 21 seconds, give or take 13 seconds. Small mammals are
hindered by high viscous and capillary forces that limit their rate
of flow, while large mammals benefit from bigger pipes and gravity
that helps flush out larger volumes of urine in a short time.
It’s amazing to think that scientists actually pursued this
question, but the researchers insist that the results may have
practical use in the field of urology.
Meanwhile, the oddity of the subject earned the researchers from
Georgia Tech an Ig Nobel Prize, an award that honors the best
research that “makes people laugh and then think.” The awards
ceremony, held Sept. 17 at Harvard University, honored 10 groups of
researchers from throughout the world. The prize, a mainstay of the
Research,” is a play on the word “ignoble,” which means either
humble or dishonorable.
Chemistry Prize: Researchers identified a
process for “partially unboiling an egg.” When I first heard this,
I found it incredible, but it apparently is true. It has to do with
the way long protein chains can alter their functional state by the
way they fold back on themselves. The process offers a method to
produce certain medicines at much less cost. For a good
explanation, check out the video on this page or read the story by
Summer Ash on the
Literature Prize: Linguistic experts looked the
world over and found that almost every language has an utterance
like the English “huh?” — and the meanings are all about the same.
See the second video on this page.
Management Prize: According to new research,
many business leaders developed a fondness for risk-taking early in
their lives after surviving natural disasters — such as
earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and wildlifes — with no
dire consequences to their lives.
Economics Prize: The award went to the Bangkok
Metropolitan Police for offering to pay police officers cash
bonuses if they refuse to take bribes.
Medicine Prize: Two research groups working in
various parts of the world discovered from experiments that intense
kissing and other intimate activities produce biomedical
consequences, such as reduced allergic response.
Mathematics Prize: A group of European
scientists used mathematical techniques to figure out how Mouley
Ismael, the bloodthirsty Sharifian emperor of Morocco, managed to
father 888 children from 1697 to 1727.
Biology Prize: By attaching a weighted stick to
the tail of a chicken, researchers discovered that the chicken
walks in a way similar to how dinosaurs may have walked.
Diagnostic Prize: It turns out that speed bumps
make a good tool for diagnosing acute appendicitis. The deciding
factor is how much pain a person feels while driving over speed
bumps that jostle their insides.
Physiology and Entomology Prize: The prize was
awarded jointly to two individuals who laid their bodies on the
line for science. Justin Schmidt developed the Schmidt Sting Pain
Index to rate the relative pain people feel when stung by various
insects. Michael L. Smith allowed bees to sting him on 25 different
locations on his body to identify the least painful spots (skull,
middle toe tip and upper arm) and most painful (nostril, upper lip
The awards ceremony, which is long but contains plenty of light
moments, can be viewed in the video below. Another ongoing website
about odd and unusual studies is “Seriously,
Science?” which I discussed in
Water Ways about a year ago.
The U.S. Department of Interior maintains a large photo album of
incredible outdoor pictures taken at national parks and other
federal lands throughout the United States. I look forward to
checking these pictures each day to see what stunning views have
been newly posted.
The picture at right shows the Potomac River where it rushes
through a narrow gorge before flowing past Washington, D.C. This
photo, by Yin Lau, was taken on the Virginia side of the river.
Years ago, people living near Quilcene in Jefferson County
reported an eerie humming sound that kept them awake at night.
Since Quilcene is located near the Navy’s acoustic-testing range in
Dabob Bay, some folks speculated that the Navy was up to
Some people thought it might be some kind of frog, and a few
advanced theories of extra-terrestrials. Finally, an acoustic
biologist heard a recording of the sound and concluded that it was
a midshipman, a bottom-dwelling fish often called a bullhead.
(Click on the arrow below to listen.)
1. Plainfin midshipman
I have not been able to locate the story I wrote about the
incident, but it appears the fish created similar confusion three
years ago in Seattle, according to a story by Ryan Grenoble in the
Huffington Post. I wonder how many other people have heard a
similar humming noise that they could not identify.
What I’m leading up to is an amusing webside called Discovery of Sound in the Sea, which
allows you to check out all kinds of underwater sounds. Did you
know that some sea urchins can form a chorus of sound while grazing
on vegetated rocks?
2. Sea urchin
“Discovery of Sound in the Sea,” or DOSITS, is packed with
information about the science of underwater sound, including jobs
in the field and equipment used by researchers. There’s even a list
of activities, which can be used to teach children about sound.
I find that the most engaging part of the website is the
a list of recorded sounds that can be selected and played. The list
consists of eight different baleen whales; 17 toothed whales,
porpoises and dolphins; 10 seals and sea lions; a manatee; four
invertebrates, including the sea urchin; 21 fish; seven natural
nonbiological sounds, such as rain under water; and 12 man-made
sounds from wind turbines to torpedoes.
The website is associated with the University of Rhode Island’s
Graduate School of Oceanography and Marine Acoustics, Inc., of
Middletown, RI. Contributors include independent researchers,
school teachers and others. The U.S. Office of Naval Research has
provided financial support.
Here’s a sample of some interesting sounds. I’ve included the
sound of the fin whale, a species seen in Puget Sound last week for
the first time in decades. Check out the report by
King 5 TV. If you visit the DOSITS website, you’ll get details
about each recording and what is making the sound.
A killer whale mother and calf calling to each other in
Johnstone Strait in British Columbia