Category Archives: Humor

Amusing Monday: Rare moments frozen in winning wildlife photos

Celebrating the power and beauty of nature, the National Wildlife Federation attracted more than 23,000 photographic entries to its annual photo contest.

Baby Animals category, second place, by Loi Nguyen
Photo courtesy of National Wildlife Federation

Winners in the prestigious contest came from seven states — Alaska, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon and West Virginia. They represented six nations — Canada, England, Hungary, Kenya and Kuwait as well as the U.S.

“Whether lifelong professionals or avid amateurs, all winners display a love of wildlife and an appreciation of how photography can help bring nature to life in a way that inspires others to take action and protect it, both at home and abroad,” states a news release announcing the winners last Thursday.

Mammals category, first place, by Eric Guth
Photo courtesy of National Wildlife Federation

The images feature both the quiet beauty of the natural world along with life-and-death struggles between predator and prey that can interrupt nature’s silence in a heartbeat. The grand prize winner, David Turko of Florida, combined experience, patience and luck to grab an extremely rare image of a stealthy bobcat escaping from a pond with a flapping bird in its jaws (bottom photo on this page).

In addition to a grand prize, first- and second-place awards are given in seven categories: Mammals, Baby Animals, Birds, Other Wildlife, Backyard Habitats, People in Nature, and Landscapes and Plants.

Other Wildlife, first place, by Deborah Albert
Photo courtesy of National Wildlife Federation

Organizers say they hope that the photos bring nature to life for viewers, who may be inspired to protect nature — from their own property to organized preservation efforts throughout the world. Entry fees and donated images help the National Wildlife Federation with its ongoing conservation work.

The full slate of winning photos can be seen on the website of “National Wildlife” magazine. Here are descriptions for the photos shown on this page:

POLAR BEARS: Loi Nguyen of Thousand Oaks, Calif., was awarded second place in the Baby Animals category. Two years of planning were awarded when Nguyen was granted a permit to photograph polar bears in Canada’s Wapusk National Park. After long days of waiting, Nguyen’s group spotted a mother polar bear and her two cubs sleeping together in a ball. When they awoke, the cubs nursed, nuzzled and played. “There is such tenderness between mother and cubs,” said Nguyen. “It melts me.”

People in Nature, second place, Kyler Badten
Photo courtesy of National Wildlife Federation

SEALS UNDER ICE: Eric Guth of Portland, Ore., took first place in the Mammals category when he dipped his camera into the sea off the coast of Brown Bluff in Antarctica. His goal was to capture an over-under shot of a massive iceberg when a group of crabeater seals swam into the frame. “I feel calm and at peace when I look at this,” Guth said. “The seals give it life.”

CROCODILE: Deborah Albert of Charleston, W.V., was recognized with a first place award in the Other Wildlife category for her powerful photo taken on a sandbank along Tanzania’s Rufiji River. Working from a small boat, Albert spotted the massive Nile crocodile as it plunged down the bank and vanished in the river. Her reactions were quick enough to capture the brief but magical moment. “It was a bit intimidating,” she admits, but one cannot deny the prehistoric majesty of the beast. “Talk about wildlife perfection,” she added.

Grand Prize winner by David Turko
Photo courtesy of National Wildlife Federation

WHALE SHARK: Kyler Badten of Coatesville, Ind., was the second-place winner in the People in Nature category. Hovering in water 30 feet deep off the coast of Isla Mujeres in Mexico, Badten watched as a whale shark passed overhead. The animal swam just below fellow diver Akira Biondo, who seems to be reaching out and touching the animal. “I call this ‘Coexist,’” says Badten, who hopes his photos call attention to the worldwide plight of sharks and “inspire others to help protect them.”

BOBCAT: While photographing migratory birds in Mexico’s Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, photographer David Turko of Melbourne, Fla., followed his hunch and turned down a backroad where he encountered a pond and spotted a bobcat catching a coot. Because of the bird’s flapping wings, the cat never saw Turko get out of his car and begin shooting. When the bobcat spotted him, it “increased its pace to a full sprint, then just made this leap,” Turko recalls. “It was surreal. I still get goose bumps thinking of it. This was the shot of a lifetime.”

Amusing Monday: Colorful sea slugs reveal evolutionary strategies

In conjunction with National Sea Slug Day last Monday, the California Academy of Sciences released colorful photographs of 17 newly identified nudibranch species.

Striking colors and unusual color patterns were given a special focus in a genetic study that is helping to group the nudibranch species and understand how they evolved. Hannah Epstein, affiliated with the California Academy, was the lead author on the research paper published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Researchers were surprised to learn that this nudibranch was the same species, Hypselodoris iba, as the one directly below on this page.
Photo: Terry Gosliner, © California Academy of Sciences

“When we find an anomaly in color pattern, we know there’s a reason for it,” said Epstein, now a researcher at James Cook University in Australia, quoted in a news release.

“It reveals a point in evolution where a selective pressure — like predation — favored a pattern for camouflage or mimicking another species that may be poisonous to would-be predators,” she noted.

Terry Gosliner, an invertebrate zoologist credited with discovering more than a third of all known sea slug species, added this:

This nudibranch and the one above are the same species, Hypselodoris iba.
Photo: Terry Gosliner © California Academy of Sciences

“Nudibranchs have always been a marine marvel with their dazzling color diversity. We’re only beginning to understand the evolution of color. This is the first time we’ve had a family tree to test longstanding hypotheses for how patterns evolve.”

National Sea Slug Day was recently established by Christopher Mah, an invertebrate zoologist at the Smithsonian Institution. To honor Gosliner, Mah chose Oct. 29, Gosliner’s birthday, for this special day of recognition for sea slugs. Check out Mah’s blog for details.

Nudibranch species Hypselodoris brycei
Photo: © Nerida Wilson

“Sea slugs have an arsenal of strategies for surviving, from mimicry to camouflage to cryptic patterns,” said Gosliner, who has described more than 1,000 nudibranch species. “We’re always thrilled to discover new sea slug diversity. Because nudibranchs have such specialized and varied diets, an area with many different species indicates a variety of prey — which means that coral reef ecosystem is likely thriving.”

Nudibranch species Hypselodoris katherinae
Photo: Terry Gosliner © California Academy of Sciences

Changes in nudibranch populations can be an early sign of changing conditions, such as seen in 2015 during a population explosion of Hopkins’ rose nudibranchs along the California Coast. The sudden shift came during a period of ocean warming. See news release, California Academy of Sciences, and the web page for iNaturalist, where volunteer observers were among the first to report the phenomenon.

Nudibranch species Hypselodoris peri
Photo: Terry Gosliner © California Academy of Sciences

The complexity of color variations is exemplified by members of the genus Hypselodoris, which inhabit coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific tropics. Coral reefs are home to some of the most astounding colors and patterns on Earth.

During the research, scientists encountered one sea slug that was lavender with a white stripe and another that was cream-colored with a lavender stripe and orange spots. They were assumed to be separate species until a diver took a photograph of the two mating. Genetic analysis revealed that they were the same species, Hypselodoris iba.

Nudibranch species Hypselodoris violacea
Photo: Terry Gosliner © California Academy of Sciences

Meanwhile, that lavender sea slug appeared to be amazingly similar to another purple species found in the region, Hypselodoris bullocki, yet the two were quite distinct.

“When two different species like H. iba and H. bullocki present in the same color, the simplest explanation is that they share a common ancestor,” Rebecca Johnson, another member of the research team, said in a news release. “These two species, however, are pretty far apart on the family tree. The more likely explanation for their similar appearance is that they reside in the same geographic region where being purple is advantageous for avoiding predators, either as camouflage or warning of distastefulness.”

Through genetic analysis, the researchers were able to show that distant relatives can evolve independently but appear quite similar to each other as each tries to cope with similar environmental conditions. This tendency is known as convergent evolution.

Some nudibranchs use their bright colors to warn away predators by advertising that they contain toxins that make them unpalatable. Other species may mimic that coloration, successfully detering predators, even though they do not contain a toxin.

For additional background on nudibranchs, including photos from the Puget Sound region, check out Water Ways, Oct. 12, 2015.

Amusing Monday: Ig Nobel prizes make us laugh, then think

Roller coasters and kidney stones; voodoo dolls and abusive bosses; and wine with fruit flies were all part of this year’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University.

The annual ceremony recognizes seemingly off-the-wall research, most of which is published in actual scientific journals. Judges are looking for studies that first make them laugh and then make them think, according to Marc Abrahams, who founded the Ig Nobel awards in 1991.

Abrahams, the master of ceremonies, serves as editor of the “Annals of Improbable Research,” a publication that seeks out oddball investigations in science and other fields.

As usual, the ceremony shows that researchers really do have a sense of humor. This year’s theme was “the heart,” as reflected in a heart trophy and an opera performed during the ceremony. The full show, presented in the video on this page, contains skits, stunts and demonstrations.

I’m always amused by the amount of work that goes into these research projects, many of which have practical, if somewhat obscure, applications to daily life. In fact, one physicist, Russian-born Andre Geim, received an Ig Nobel Prize in 2000 when he showed how to levitate a small frog with magnets, using the magnetic properties of water. He went on to share an actual Nobel Prize 10 years later for discoveries related to graphene, now considered an advanced building material.

If any of these research projects stir your curiosity, you can track down the papers through the Ig Nobel Prize website. I will spare you the formal titles of these papers, but they’re on the website with links to the publication where they appeared. In the list below, the times next to the prizes indicate where on the video you can view each announcement of the prize, followed by an acceptance speech and sometimes demonstrations related to the projects.

Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine (14:14) for discovering that roller coaster rides hasten the passage of kidney stones. (One of the authors is from Poulsbo.)

In receiving the prize, Dr. David Wartinger of Michigan State University said the real credit should go to one of his patients, who passed a kidney stone two minutes after getting off the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, a roller coaster ride at Disney World.

“He was so convinced that the ride had caused it that he got back in line and rode it a second time,” Wartinger said during the awards ceremony. “Two minutes after his second ride, he gave birth to kidney stone number 2.”

The follow-up study involved using a device that simulates the human urinary tract. When the device was placed at the front of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, four of 24 kidney stones were dislodged. When the device was placed at the back of the ride, 23 of 26 kidney stones were dislodged.

Wartinger shared the prize with Dr. Marc Mitchell of The Doctors Clinic in Poulsbo.

Ig Nobel Prize in Anthropology (17:07) for finding that, in a zoo, chimpanzees imitate humans about as often — and about as well — as humans imitate chimpanzees.

At the ceremony, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc reported that two species of apes — humans and chimps — will often “ape” each other in a zoo. The situation is prolonged when either one gets a reaction, demonstrating that mimicking can be a social, as well as a learning, behavior. A film clip shows the process taking place.

Ig Nobel Prize in Biology (24:28) for proving that wine experts can reliably identify by smell the presence of a single fly in a glass of wine.

It is well known that female fruit flies produce pheromones to attract a mate. The research shows that humans are ultra-sensitive to the pheromone and our senses can detect exceeding small amounts of the biological chemical.

“If a female fly is attracted to your glass of wine and drops in, that is very sad for the fly because the fly will drown,” said the author who accepted the prize. “But it is also sad for you, because the pheromone will spoil your wine.”

The ceremony included a demonstration of the phenomenon, with different reactions from four participants.

Ig Nobel Prize in Chemistry (28:01) for measuring the degree to which human saliva is a good cleaning agent for dirty surfaces.

“I know that it seems quite improbable,” said researcher Paula M. S. Romão, “but human saliva is an effective cleaning agent for surfaces like paintings, sculptures or gilded wood. But don’t try to use it on your kitchen counters.”

An on-stage demonstration is included.

Ig Nobel Prize in Medical Education (45:20) for a paper titled “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy.”

One of the authors, Akira Horiuchi, came on stage with his endoscope and proceeded to demonstrate the self-procedure with his clothes on. “OK,” he said, “I think this trial may be funny, but I learned many things.” Unfortunately, he ran out of time before he could tell the audience exactly what he learned.

Ig Nobel Prize in Literature (53:07) for learning that most people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual.

Surveys and studies revealed that people not only fail to read long instruction manuals but they never learn how to use some of the functions of the devices they own. Also, “extraneous features” tend to have a negative effect on people’s experience with such products.

“Reading manuals and accessing online help is sometimes such a bad experience that people would avoid doing it even when they knew they were using the product wrongly and reading a manual would probably help,” said researcher Thea Blackler.

(The audience was then shown a photo of a chair assembled with two legs aiming upward.) The fact that people don’t need excessive features seems obvious to most people, Blackler said, but manufacturers aren’t getting the message.

Ig Nobel Prize in Nutrition (55:28) for finding that the caloric intake from a human-cannibalism diet is significantly lower than the caloric intake from most other traditional meat diets.

“I have to find my speech,” said researcher James Cole, addressing the audience. “Why don’t you chew on something while I find us some food for thought. I really like research that I get sink my teeth into.”

Cole said the role of his research is to understand the complexities of human ancestors, including Neanderthals. Motivations for cannibalism can be complex, he said, ranging from survival to warfare and other considerations.

“It turns out that calorically we’re not that nutritious compared to a horse or a bison or a mammoth, which we know were successfully hunted in the past. We know that Neanderthals … produced art; they have symbolism, jewelry, language, and complex societies … Perhaps we should consider that our ancestors had a greater complex attitude to cannibalism than in the way we do. If we can gain greater understanding into them, we can gain better understanding into ourselves — and isn’t that what science is about and why we’re all here?”

Ig Nobel Peace Prize (1:03:28) for measuring the frequency, motivation, and effects of shouting and cursing while driving an automobile.

Research shows that drivers who frequently express aggression tend to have higher rates of traffic accidents, according to the study. Among these drivers, aggressive behaviors occur during normal traffic conditions. In several countries studied so far, aggressive behaviors can be associated with a lack of driver education. The current study of 1,100 Spanish drivers found that aggressive behaviors, such as shouting and insulting, were not as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. But some behaviors, such as risky maneuvers of the vehicle, could be considered serious enough for a legal ban.

“Let us also remember that people use cars to make love as well,” quipped researcher Francisco Alonso, “which is clearly better than using them to get us killed.”

Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine (1:13:15) for using postage stamps to test whether the male sexual organ is functioning properly—as described in the study “Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps.”

Sharing the microphone, author physicians John M. Barry, Bruce Blank, Michel Boileau tried to explain their research in simple terms. “We sought to answer Bugs Bunny’s recurrent question: ‘What’s up, Doc?’”

Instead of using expensive equipment to measure erectile function, the three doctors developed an “inexpensive stamp test.” The audience erupted with laughter as suggestive postage stamps were displayed in a slide show.

Ig Nobel Prize in Economics (1:18:37) for investigating whether it is effective for employees to use Voodoo dolls to retaliate against abusive bosses.

“In our work, we wanted to understand why people keep retaliating against their abusive bosses, and we presented them with a voodoo doll to see whether stabbing a voodoo doll made them feel that they’ve retaliated,” said lead researcher Lindie Hanyu Liang.

By focusing their aggressions on a voodoo doll, employees can avoid the destructive consequences of actual retaliation against their bosses. “People actually feel better, that their sense of justice has been restored,” Liang concluded.

Amusing Monday: Earth becomes art when viewed from satellites

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey have created an “Earth-as-Art” collection of brilliant images from space, as seen from Landsat satellites.

Icy Vortex // Image: USGS, Landsat program

Some pictures of Earth formations are reminiscent of actual paintings; some include familiar objects; and some are like abstract creations. Some show the actual colors of earth, sea and sky, while some of the colors are created with filters to highlight natural colors or even to capture light beyond the visible spectrum.

These images remind me of the LIDAR images created by the Washington Department of Natural Resources, which I called works of art in a blog post nearly a year ago. See Water Ways, Dec. 11, 2017. I included images of Puget Sound among some satellite photos posted previously. See Water Ways, Sept.11, 2017.

Earth Selfie // Image: USGS, Landsat program

While the images are valuable to USGS scientists who wish to understand and describe features from space, they also stir the imagination. I enjoyed some of the comments written by the scientists, which I will share below along with the titles as shown on the USGS “Earth as Art” website.

Icy Vortex: “Appearing as if an artist imitating Jackson Pollock had randomly spurted ink onto the canvas, this image shows swirling ice in the Foxe Basin of northern Canada. Even though the image is from late July, there was still ice floating in the water this far north.”

Earth’s Aquarium // Image: USGS, Landsat program

Earth Selfie: “The tendency to recognize human faces in things that are not human is common. Can you see the eye, nose, and mouth in this satellite image of Morocco? The face captured in this ‘Earth Selfie’ appears to be quietly watching over the waters just off its coast. The city of Agadir is underneath the chin, and the irrigated farms of the Souss Valley appear in red.”

Earth’s Aquarium: Phytoplankton growing in the Bering Sea create green and blue swirls in the water. The microscopic phytoplankton cannot be seen with the naked eye, but their vast numbers are visible from space. Scientists called this “Earth’s Aquarium” because the white clouds resemble bubbles in a fish tank.

Bleeding Heart // Image: USGS, Landsat program

Bleeding Heart: “A feathery, blood red streak cuts across the heart of this image. The translucent red paint stroke is not actually a feature of the land. It is a cirrus cloud detected by Landsat 8’s cirrus band. This cirrus cloud, which hovers over the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan, is invisible in natural color imagery.”

Eerie Cloud Shadows: Clouds show up red in this infrared photo, casting eerie shadows of blue on the landscape of southern Egypt.

Van Gogh from Space: “In the style of Van Gogh’s painting “Starry Night,” massive congregations of greenish phytoplankton swirl in the dark water around Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea.” Currents bring nutrients to the sunlit surface, triggering the growth of the microscopic organisms, which contain chlorophyll.

Eerie Cloud Shadows // Image: USGS, Landsat program
Van Gogh from Space // Image: USGS, Landsat program

NOTE: This blog post was written yesterday, but something went awry during the publishing process, so it was not posted until this morning.

Amusing Monday: To survive, penguins have adopted odd behaviors

One of the strangest animals on Earth is the emperor penguin, a bird that exhibits some remarkable behaviors to help it survive under the harshest conditions.

One might wish that the penguins would fly away to a warmer area when the frigid cold of winter strikes the Antarctic each year, but this bird doesn’t fly at all. Instead, groups of penguins huddle together on open ice during the long winters. They take turns moving into the middle of the group to escape the worst of the chill winds and to warm up just a little.

Females lay a single egg and quickly abandon it, leaving the males to care for the egg while the females go hunting. For up to two months, the males will balance the egg on their feet, keeping the egg warm in a feathery “brood pouch.” During this time, the males will eat nothing while the females travel many miles to the sea to gorge themselves on fish, squid and krill. When the females return, they are ready to feed their newborn chicks some of this partially digested food, while the males are free to go and find food for themselves.

While these unusual birds can’t fly, their skills under water are quite amazing — and amusing. Their unique physiology allows them to dive much deeper than any other water bird, stay under water for more than 20 minutes, and eventually zoom back to the surface at an incredible rate, as shown in the first video on this page.

BirdNote, a regular program on many public radio stations, recently focused on penguins and the research of Jessica Meir, who wanted to know how penguins were able to swim so deep. Here’s the audio:

      1. 181010-Deep-diving-Emperor-Penguins

In an article in U.S. News and World Report, Jessica wrote, “One study revealed that diving emperor penguins have heart rates significantly lower than that of their heart rates at rest, During one emperor penguin’s impressive 18-minute dive, its heart rate decreased to as low as three beats per minute, with a rate of six beats per minute lasting for over five minutes during the dive. As heart rate is a very good indicator of how much oxygen is utilized, decreased heart rates during dives correspond to conservation of oxygen, enabling the animals to dive for a longer time.”

By the way, Jessica built upon her interest in science and expertise in physiology to become an astronaut in NASA’s space program. She tells her story in the video posted at the bottom of this page.

For other interesting tidbits about the life of emperor penguins, check out the website “Just Fun Facts.”

In a previous discussion about penguins, I talked about the large number of cartoon artists who decided that penguins should be friends with polar bears. This became an interesting and off-the-wall partnership, considering that polar bears and penguins never get together in the wild. These cartoonists have simply ignored the fact that polar bears live in the Arctic on the top side of the world, while penguins live in the Antarctic on the bottom. See Water Ways, Aug. 1, 2011. (Some of the attached videos have been removed from YouTube since that original post.)

On another occasion, I wrote about an orphan penguin found alone on a beach in New Zealand, more than 2,500 miles north of its home in Antarctica. I recounted the story of this penguin, dubbed Happy Feet, while following its rehabilitation and return to the wild via the Internet. See Water Ways, June 26, 2011.

The second video is a compilation of humorous situations involving penguins. Again, the video below shows Jessica Meir explaining at the USA Science and Engineering Festival how she made her life transition from science kid to professional biologist to future space explorer.

Amusing Monday: What would your day be like without water?

Wednesday of this week is a national day of action in which people are asked to “Imagine a Day Without Water.” The annual event was launched in 2015 to increase appreciation for the water we enjoy in our everyday lives.

It’s a serious subject, but one that can be approached with a sense of humor, as you can see from the videos I’ve tracked down.

In the event’s initial year, participants included nearly 200 organizations, from water and wastewater providers to public officials, business leaders, environmental organizations, schools and more.

City councils passed resolutions; water and wastewater utilities offered tours; and school teachers asked their students to find ways they could imagine a day without water. The initial event was declared a success, and by last year the number of participants had grown to 750 organizations.

I didn’t attempt to count the number of participants who have signed up so far this year — the fourth year of the event — but the list is long and still growing. Check out the list of those involved on the participant webpage, or join the celebration by filling out a form on the sign-up webpage.

“Imagine a Day Without Water” is affiliated with the Value of Water Campaign and the US Water Alliance, which was formed to advance policies and programs for a sustainable future with water.

A recent survey (PDF 2 mb) conducted for the Value of Water Campaign found that nearly nine in ten Americans support increasing federal funding for water infrastructure, including piping networks, water storage systems and treatment plants. Other reports and fact sheets can be found on the resource webpage of the Value of Water Campaign.

The videos on this page get right to the heart of the issue when it comes to the things we value in our everyday use of water. I have a hard time getting off to a good start in the morning without a shower, and it should come as no surprise that I am enjoying a cup of coffee as I write these lines.

On the serious side, you might not want to know what happens to your body if you don’t drink water for seven days. It isn’t very pleasant, but you can check out the video on the Bright Side Channel. An average person drinks about 264 gallons of water a year, according to the video, but the physiological effects begin in the first day without water.

A video by the US Water Alliance outlines some of the major water issues facing this country.

Beginning in 2016, the water utility in Kansas City, Mo., started asking individuals involved in public and private enterprises about their use of water. Their answers provide an interesting and informative mosaic about what Kansas City would lose if it didn’t have water:

Amusing Monday: Sea otters often play a key role in kelp forests

Last week was National Sea Otter Awareness Week, recognized by many aquariums, marine educators and environmental groups across the country. Although I was on vacation last week, I thought I could still bring up some interesting facts about these amusing and ecologically important creatures.

I guess I should mention first that sea otters are rarely spotted in Puget Sound. If you do see an otter — whether in saltwater or freshwater — it is most likely a river otter. I’ll outline some differences between the two further on in this blog post.

Occasionally, sea otters have been sighted in Puget Sound as far south as Olympia, but their historical range is described as the outer coast from Alaska to California — including the Strait of Juan de Fuca west of Port Angeles, according to a new report (PDF 1.4 mb) by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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Amusing Monday: Stories of surf dogs and their human companions

Some dogs take to the water more than others, but it’s always great to see the stories behind dogs who excel at surfing — or other feats of athletic skill, agility or mental competence.

One such story involves a surfer dog named Sugar and her human companion Ryan Rustan, who says his dog changed his life in many positive ways. In the first video on this page, Ryan talks about being a surfer who was always quick to anger, an attitude that held him back in school and other endeavors. Things changed for Ryan when he found a hungry dog on the street in need of help. Ryan rescued Sugar, who in turn rescued him.

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Amusing Monday: This southern lady has a funny story for everyone

About a month ago, I wrote a blog post titled “Get out and enjoy the cool rivers in our region.” It was during the heat of the summer, and I was thinking back to some past rafting trips. I related what I called the “feelings of calm while traveling across flat water, followed by the invigoration of roiling rapids.”

Humorist Jeanne Robertson has her own memories of a rafting adventure but with an entirely different frame of mind. Jeanne’s way of telling stories — with colorful details and surprising twists — kept me laughing through her eight-minute video titled, “Don’t go rafting without a Baptist in the boat.” Check out the first video on this page.

The sequel to the story comes from the sleeping arrangements on her rafting trip, as you can see in the second video, called “Don’t get frisky in a tent.”

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Amusing Monday: Spell-checking offers new names for sea creatures

Harbor seals might be called “pooch vitamin” and gray whales “scratchiest robot” — or at least those are a couple of the wacky names I derived with the help of spell-checking software.

“Pooch vitamin” for harbor seal
Photo: Meegan Reid, Kitsap Sun

Scientific names don’t normally give me much of a problem — primarily because I don’t use them all that much. If I’m writing an article about an animal or plant, I sometimes include the scientific name for the sake of precision, since some species are called by different things in other parts of the world.

I don’t know how to pronounce most scientific names, and I almost always need to double-check the spellings. As Sloan Tomlinson of Entomology Uncensored points out, auto-correct is no friend of scientists stuck with using proper taxonomic names.

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