Friday, January 20, 2017

Motors and Whales

I like to learn things. Not as an academic. I just like to learn all sorts of different things. I don’t believe I’d have ever made a good college student, simply because I wasn’t necessarily a good high school student. You see, back then and even today, if I find something that interests me, I’m all in. I will go to extreme lengths to learn everything I can about a subject. I’ll even go so far as to memorize as many facts as I can about the subject.

My interests are as wide and eclectic as can be imagined. However; there are things connected to my interests that I have no interest in. Which is odd. For example, as you know, I like trains, a lot. So much so that my primary job is, trains. Toy trains that is. And if you ask me about them, I can talk for hours about them. I also like real trains and how they are made. I also like most modes of transportation. Rail, plane and motorcycle. I’ve almost no interest in four wheel transportation. Matter of fact, I’d say that being in a car or van or suv is barely tolerable for me. Put me on a train, plane or motorcycle… I’m loving every minute of it. Yet, I really enjoyed the years I spent working at a machine shop rebuilding engines. Grinding on the heads, seating the valves, cleaning them, taking them apart, putting them back together and just working with these amazing machines. They’re like a giant working puzzle. 

So, recently, two weeks ago to be factual, I had my appendix out. Which is a vestigial organ. That means our bodies don’t really need them. I’ve known what a vestigial organ is for a while now. After all, I really dug biology at Roncallli Catholic High School as taught by Coach Ron back in the 1980’s. He made learning fun and if I’m to be totally honest, it was the only class where all my pals were with me. We had a blast, especially when we dissected animals.  Which is where we learned about vestigial organs.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, my emergency surgery…

A day after my surgery, one of the many doctors who had a hand… literally… in keeping me alive stopped by to see me. One of the topics that came up was… you guessed it, vestigial organs.

After just a few minutes of talking, the doc realized I knew what they were… so he decided to drop some knowledge on me. That knowledge I’m going to drop on you because it is too cool and something I never learned in school. That being said… I went right on the internet and started to read up on the subject.

Quick warning here. If you don’t believe in evolution, this may upset you.

What the doc said was “Did you know that whales have vestigial leg bones?”

My mind was blown. Seriously. I felt all giddy, excited and the synapsis in my brain started firing at the speed of light. Which is true. That’s how fast they fire. Crazy I know, but true.

When the doc left I picked up my phone and did a quick internet search for whales with legs. Then I clicked the image button and lost myself down the rabbit hole of internet photos of whales walking around on land.

Which is so cool you have to see it to believe it.

Unfortunately the picture that I had in my mind was not one I found on the internet. See, in my head I pictured a giant sperm whale or blue whale crashing through the prehistoric foliage of earth and chomping up everything in sight. You know, one of those “artistic renditions” that NASA uses for out of solar system planets or even some of the pictures of dinosaurs you see in books or museums… yeah that was what I was looking for. Instead, I ended up looking at skeleton pictures, some artist renditions and even directions of whales.

I also ended up reading about a dozen articles on whale legs and the vestigial bones and how they are slowly disappearing. By that I mean they are shrinking because of lack of use. 

You know, maybe I should have gone into marine biology, simply because walking whales is not the only sea creature I dig. I also love the manatee, I think they are cute. Maybe that’s why I like bulldogs so much, because they look like the manatee. 

Anyway, that’s about it for this week. My brain is still happy to learn about walking whale and if I had a time machine, I’d travel back in time to see a  one hundred foot long, one hundred and fifty ton blue whale walking across the continent in search of food. That’d be awesome and probably the last thing I’d ever see because he'd try to eat me.

Have a great week.

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