As you can see, I’m not at my desk right now. I’m up in the tree (house). It’s where I do my best thinking—where ideas take root and branch out before I know it. It is here where the magic happens. Who knows what my imagination will come up with next. What little thought will get my attention and become worthy of words to express it. Thank you for going “out on a limb” with me to share the adventure of yet-to-be-determined motivating messages. Ta-da!
P.S. For those curious whether ta-da is a word, indeed it is according to Webster’s Dictionary. In the formal sense it means an imitative sound of the musical flourish or fanfare of a French Horn. In the more urban usage, it means a final proclamation, an exclamation to substitute a lot of words, especially when excited, happy, surprised. One source claims it was first used in 1926 although it doesn’t state how, and other info states its origins go further back with a connection to yoga and a certain pose called Ta-da-sana. Some consider it slang. I consider it the most magical verbal punctuation. On a grander scale, I like to think of life as one big ta-da.
People often ask how I come up with column ideas. The simplest answer is to chalk them up to curiosity which according to a great book on the subject, “Curious” by Ian Leslie, I seem to have a healthy dose of it. Also, I have an uncanny knack for finding stories about the strangest things. Such was the case while reading about unusual wildlife, that live at airports of all places, in a weekly email edition of “The Wild,” a publication of the Los Angeles Times. For starters, San Francisco International Airport has become the home of the...read more
A newly discovered gnat. A venomous caterpillar. A poisonous spider. Strangely enough, these three creepy crawlers are playing a starring role with scientists “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” That’s right, the popular 60’s Star Trek theme duly describes how 60 years later medical science is using the peculiar resources of these otherwise off-putting insects to potentially save lives. Starting with the newly discovered fungus gnat species in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, the bioluminescent blue light it emits...read more
Brain studies reveal that music activates some of the broadest and most diverse networks of the brain. Researchers also confirm that most everyone’s brain has experienced “stuck song syndrome” or what’s scientifically referred to as an “earworm.” Need examples? Think sitcom theme songs like Cheers “where everyone knows your name,” a catchy song such as “Happy” or a popular television commercial. If you like the tune, then it’s not a problem. You can hum along and enjoy. If not, hearing the constant repetition of the same tune over...read more
Some might label this column a bit on the fruity side. Others may call it a veggie tale. Me? I chalk it up to curiosity about something that won’t make headlines, but it just might show up as clue on Jeopardy. I’m talking about fruit and vegetable labels, AKA stickers, that sometimes come right off. Other times not so fast. Yet, the “sticky” truth is quite fascinating according to some simple research except for one detail. When exactly did produce stickers first come into use since I can still remember ink-stamped produce growing up?...read more
A favorite pastime growing up was hanging out in the walnut tree outside my bedroom window. The thick, woody trunk made it easy to climb up into its ever-welcoming branches. I could sit up there for hours just thinking. Nothing in particular. Just everything in general. Trees do so much more than just stand there and provide clean air, filter water, and have an open invitation to sit and enjoy the shade. Wherever they are, whether it’s just one or a forest, they seem to have this nurturing presence of peace and comfort—a perfect companion to...read more
“I will be back” is what I said a year ago when California shut down and I had a few hours to exit Joshua Tree National Park. It was my first visit with plans to spend a few days exploring its wonder and hike a few of the 8,000 rock climbing routes in a park aptly named for its twisty, spikey Joshua trees that dot thousands of scrubby-landscaped acres. As if that isn’t enough geographical eye candy, towering jagged mountains frame a valley filled with granite-like rock formations that look hallucinatory, mythical, and paranormal at once....read more
50 things are turning 50 this year. That’s right, 50 well known people, places, things, and events are celebrating their big five-O birthday in 2021. A few of my favorites are the Apollo 14 moon mission when Alan Shepard practiced his golf swing and fellow astronauts brought back 94 pounds of rock. Back on earth, email history began when Ray Tomlinson developed a program for sending electronic mail during downtime while working on a Department of Defense project. Walt Disney World opened in Buena Vista, Florida with adult tickets for $3.50;...read more
Umbrellas. Here in SoCal they rarely see the light of day let alone much rain. My hopes were up at the onset of winter when I finally succeeded in finding a great umbrella. Admittedly, my excitement waned with mostly warm temperatures, and I forgot about using the kid-size, see-through dome with a lightweight handle. However, my interest was revived when I checked out the umbrella’s historical ancestry. Colorful not only describes one of its physical characteristics, it’s also a well-suited description of the umbrella’s varied past. That...read more
On the way to finding something fun to share about Valentine’s day, I kept bumping into articles about kindness. Not exactly a new hearts day idea, however, last year kindness stories soared to the forefront in videos and online posts and kept are spirits alive during very trying times. We collectively cheered for folks performing heartwarming acts of kindness for others. Repeatedly we saw how one person’s kindness activated responses from an army of folks who added their efforts to help the cause. So what’s behind the art of kindness? The...read more
We all know what did happen in 2020. Any thoughts about what didn’t? To answer that question, I checked out the list Bob Larkin compiled of far-out 2020 predictions made during the last century that were for the most part a “no-show.” For example, podiatrists might have something to say about how Richard Clement Lucas lectured in 1911 that the human foot would turn into one big toe. I think personal helicopters sound a lot more promising. However, just as Popular Mechanics was way off with its 1949 prediction that computers would weigh 1.5...read more