Whale Spouting

“To have a huge, friendly whale willingly approach your boat
and look you straight in the eye is without doubt one of the
most extraordinary experiences on the planet.”
Mark Carwardine

Wally the Gray Whale

Wally the famous gray whale spouting in Redondo Beach.

For the past few weeks, my husband and I have been enjoying the gray whales outside our living room window. We spot them when the whales spout a large heart-shaped spray of water. Curious creature that I am, I wanted to learn more about whales spouting.

Contrary to what you may have seen in such movies as Pixar’s otherwise extremely entertaining Finding Nemo, whales don’t  spray water out of their blowholes.

Whales’ noses/blowholes, are on the top of their heads, so that they can just barely break the surface to breathe without rising too far out of the water. When inhaling, they flex a muscle which opens the blowhole and take in a big gulp of air. Then, they relax the muscle to close the blowhole, leaving them free to dive down beneath the surface of the water once more without drowning themselves.

It’s exhaling that’s the interesting part. When the whale resurfaces, they have to release the used up air back into the atmosphere just like all other mammals do. This results in a spout, but it isn’t water, at least not at first. The air inside the whale is typically quite warm from the whale’s body heat. When it’s exhaled, it meets the much cooler temperature of the air outside and immediately condenses, making it look like a spout of water. This is also often mixed with mucus —it is a nose, after all.

Every species of whale has a differently shaped blowhole. Some even have two, which results in differently shaped spouts. You can tell what species of whale by seeing their spouts. For instance, a humpback whale’s spout looks like a column; orcas’ spouts are somewhat more bushy; and gray whales’ two blowholes are positioned in such a way that their exhalation results in something of a heart-shaped spout.

Now when I go whale watching next Saturday with my son, just like an experienced whale watcher, we’ll be able to tell which whales are which by their whale spouting.

Shine On

Fond Unfaded Memories

“Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories.
And the longer a song has existed in our lives,
the more memories we have of it.”
Stevie Wonder

Jackie Evancho

Singer Jackie Evancho’s album, “Songs from the Silver Screen”. She was just twelve years old when she produced this album in 2012.

Music has always been a part of my life. Particular songs will conjure up good and bad memories of a time, a place, a feeling and even memories of a scent.

My taste in music ranges anywhere from classic singers such as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and music from classical, rock, country western as well as blue grass.

There is one genre that I haven’t been familiar with. Opera. The closest to opera music I experienced was when I saw a performance of Phantom of the Opera, twice I might add back in the 1990s. But you can’t really count that as true opera music.

However, that all changed on August 10, 2010 while watching, America’s Got Talent. That evening a 10 year old singer named Jackie Evancho sang the song, O mio babbino caro. I didn’t understand a word of the Italian lyrics but that didn’t matter. Her performance not only gave me goose bumps but also brought me to tears.

Her album, “Songs From the Silver Screen” is pure perfection. This young girl’s voice is magnificent, along with her choice of songs.

You can be sure that the music of Jackie Evancho will give fond memories to millions of people. Because, fond  memories of music is so powerful they never fade.

As for this Jackie Evancho fan, her music will always be fond unfaded memories.

Shine On

Windows of Your Mind

What you really want for yourself is always trying to break through,
just as a cooling breeze flows through an open window on a hot day.
Your part is to open the windows of your mind.”
Vernon Howard

Windows of Your Mind

Canyonlands National Park in the southeastern town of Moah in Utah.

Shine On

Just Around the Bend

“Never bend your head. Always hold it high.
Look the world straight in the eye.”
Helen Keller

Just Around the Bend

Just Around the Bend on Narcissa Drive in Palos Verdes, California.

Life is but a journey with twists and turns just like a winding road. The future is hard to predict, comparable in many ways to the experience of rounding a corner in a new location and seeing unexpected sights. If an event is just around the bend in the sense of time, it generally means that the wait won’t be long.

Sometimes these bends and turns in life take us in a new direction. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes for the worst. But always in the direction of the unknown. If you’re lucky, these turns in life can make all the difference in one’s life.

Often we are very close to a destination in life, yet we are unable to see it. It’s always good to have a second set of eyes, to help you see the way. A friend will be able to see things much clearer than you. A true friend, will give you words of encouragement such as: “Don’t worry, it’s ‘just around the bend.'”

Shine On

The Great Desmond Morris

“We may prefer to think of ourselves as fallen angels,
but in reality we are rising apes.”
Desmond Morris

The Naked ApeToday I just started reading The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris. As usual, I wanted to know more about Desmond Morris, so I Googled Mr. Morris and found out he is still alive at age 87. Amazingly, he wrote his first book, The Naked Ape in four short weeks in November 1966.

He was born Desmond John Morris on January 24, 1928 in Purton, Wilshire, England. His father, Harry Morris was a children’s fiction author. When Desmond was 14, his father was killed while serving in the armed forces. Ever since then, as noted from a 2008 interview, “It was the beginning of a life-long hatred of the establishment. The church, the government and the military were all on my hate list and have remained there ever since.”  He said in another interview, that “my reasoning behind drifting towards the surrealist subculture is rather profound. In a time living as a child in the Second World War and then losing my father to the repercussions of that violence, an inner urge for rebellion against authority struck me.”

Desmond grew up around all species of animals. In his twenties he developed a passion in both natural history and writing and his interest continued throughout his adult life. He was not only a zoologist, ethologist and a writer but he was also an established artist. He had major art exhibits throughout the world up until 1999.

As a result of his research study into the drawing abilities of apes, in 1957 he organized a chimpanzee paintings and drawings exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. In the spring of 1967 he resigned from his post of Curator held at London Zoo, and became executive director of the London Institute of Contemporary Arts for only a year, until 1968 with the release of The Naked Ape, sending Morris on an absence from the arts world of over twenty years, while his sociobiology career took the front seat.

In the 1950s up until the 1990s Desmond Morris wrote and directed television shows and movies. He’s still writing and publishing books and has published 84 books. Recently, in 2014 he published two books. One called Leopard and the second called Headworks, which is a volume of his collected poems from 1945 to 2014.

Desmond Morris’ art and writing continues to push the limits of mans curiosity about himself and other species on this planet. In his 2013 book The Artistic Ape; Three Million Years of Art, he sets out to answer why it is that the human species has been so intensely creative for thousands of years. This is another Desmond Morris book I plan to add to my 2015 reading list.

Here’s a recent comment from an interview with Desmond Morris about his book The Artistic Ape; Three Million Years of Art:

“Art is something that all humans feel compelled to pursue in one form or another. A culture without art is a dying culture. But art is everywhere and we have had too narrow a definition of it in the past. When I was writing a book about football, many years ago, I noticed that even the scruffiest of football hooligans would talk excitedly about “a beautiful goal”. They didn’t say ‘an efficient goal’, they were judging the goal aesthetically – although they would have laughed at me if I had told them they were making an aesthetic judgement – but that is precisely what they were doing. Every time a man buys a necktie he makes an aesthetic judgement. Every time he chooses a new car, he does the same. Our whole world is governed by aesthetic judgements, only we don’t see it that way – we say art is in a gallery or a museum, but the truth is that it influences us in many ways every day of our lives.”

To learn more about Desmond Morris and find information about his recent books, go to his website at:

The Great Desmond Morris.

Shine On