Here you can see the 14 valiant tugboats struggling to move the behemoth. But the Full Moon finally did the trick with rising tides. I’m rather fond of the second photo in which one of those proud tugboats was posed like “The Little Tugboat That Could.” It is actually pulling the newly floated ship on its way.
I begin with this news because it is such a perfect, tangible metaphor for the whole forward motion of global and personal movement coming to a grinding standstill this past year. So many projects backed up behind it. Normal life stalled out. And now, albeit slowly, we are becoming unstuck.
Our less traveled waterway, the Blackfoot River, is also slowly resuming its flow, in a brownish, muddy sort of way. March is the season of mud, with a mixture of snow and rain. A hesitant Spring. One good sign that things are starting to unfreeze: The Blackfoot Angler is opening on weekends and offers this river report.
Warm temps, sun and rain
have started turning the Blackfoot River Spring Brown.
Running 1,200 cfs with normal under 1,000.
And Brown's Lake is still frozen.
As is Salmon Lake.
In contrast to the biggest and slowest vessel on water, here is the highest speed, smaller airplane that has been designed for the future. Hold on to your hat. This is a real plan! A supersonic plane that will fly from New York to London in 3.5 hours. In the reverse direction, you would arrive before you started. Isn’t life confusing enough?
It brought to mind a famous limerick:
TThere was a young lady named Bright
Whose speed was far faster than light;
She set out one day
In a relative way
And returned on the previous night.
If I HAD to choose between the two, I would travel by cargo ship.
While we are looking into the future, I would like to share with you a video I call the Robots and the Caveman. You will soon see why. Robots Sophia and Han engage in conversation. No ventriloquism or script. Just collossal absorptions of data that allow them to make intelligent responses. During the pauses, their "brains" are scanning the database to compose replies. The video was made in 2018. Sophia is now even more lifelike and is being reproduced in numbers, particularly for service industries where they can be programmed to suit the particular needs. Ben Goetzel, of Hanson Robotics, explains how they were created and the future of AI. If you would like to skip directly to the robot interaction, jump to 4:00 minutes.
Japan now has a robot news anchor who is amazingly lifelike. She was created through the modeling of a real person. While more realistic, she is not of the order of the Hanson robots who can increasingly “think” on their own and respond to a variety of people and situations. It's still uncanny.
Research from Yamaha shows 75% of Britons have turned to music to beat lockdown blues
This gives me an opportunity to share a favorite video. The Ukulele Orchestra in the UK performing "Thank you for the Music" during lockdown from their homes. Notice how unique each one is in looks, voice, personality, humor, home decor... Not one can be mass produced like Sophia. Enjoy us! It's a fun one.
It is a sure sign of Covid desperation that less than two weeks into lockdown in Wales, the National Centre for Learning Welsh launched new free Welsh classes, with 8,300 people signing up. Their target had been 100 learners and suddenly they had 1,300 pure novices “keen to start.” They had to find enough tutors to hold 89 classes.
There are now 1.3 million people learning worldwide after thousands of new users signed up for free classes during lockdown. Learning Welsh just for the fun of it?
This absolutely charmed me because my maternal grandfather was from Wales and I visited there in search of some family, which I found. I learned how to say “town,” “window,” “church” and “Hello” in the language, but that’s about it. Not to mention the difficult pronunciation.
If that warmed my (1/4) Welsh heart, another heart-stopping fact soon followed: Speculation that Stonehenge may have been “Second-hand” with the original circle being in (drumroll) Western Wales!
If you are a lover of Stonehenge, or taking Welsh lessons, you may want to watch the full BBC documentary "Stonehenge: The Lost Circle Revealed."
But it is Russian rather than Welsh that I will have to study to keep up with the young artists I have been following from that country, whose names I can't pronounce but whose talent leaves me breathless. I give you Agafia Korzun, age 7, who took 1st place at the VIII International Open Festival Competition of Young Performers. It is not just what she plays but how she plays it, as you will hear.
In the next short pieces, past and future come together in the present. Peggy Fly forwarded this very moving video to me, taken with an iPhone of a cliff village in China. (Not by Peggy!)
I found another amazing video that shows even more of the feats these villagers accomplished daily. What incredible physical condition they must be in! I don't think Sophia or Han could have done it, do you?
I almost wished I hadn't pressed on with my research into the fate of this village. Here is where they live today. Do you think the little boy is still happily making breakfast for his brother? It is hard to know. Life is certainly easier. Still, the peak of human fitness just declined a notch.
Perhaps the fitness of an entire human community is not as it was, but individuals continue to break records in ways that boggle the mind. Consider Nathan Chen, a winner of the 2021 World Figure Skating Championships. It is not only the physical feats that are impressive but the sheer grace and beauty of his performance.
Now for a bit of humor, I take you back to an early sketch with John Cleese in "The Bookshop." This one is dedicated to those good friends of books Anne Mery, JJ Wilson and Paula Hammett.
If you are an animal lover, you might enjoy this documentary on unusual animal relationships. You can watch as little or as much of it as you like, without losing the idea. But it is well done and interesting. It ends with a particularly unlikely relationship between a kudu and a giraffe. I kid you not.
For me, the ultimate wondrous relationship occurs, in rare moments, between animals and humans. There is nothing artificial or trained about this. It just happens and represents something special. In this clip, watch a beluga whale entranced by a violin.