Go Ask Your Father: Yogurts, Bats, Parrot Speech, and Light Years

I’m a sucker for those sappy, highly predictable Christmas movies. Lucky for us there’s a channel for that. DW and I started watching one before supper. Christmas In The Air. We didn’t have time to finish it before the boys’ bedtime, though. Thankfully, with today’s technology, we can record TV without a big, clunky VCR. With the heathens are asleep, tucked in their beds with visions of slugs, snails and puppy dog tails dancing in their heads, DW and I made ourselves comfy cozy on the couch. I with my blog and her with her crocheting, a couple glasses of wine and the sappy, highly predictable movie we started earlier. It did snow here, today. It was also freezing cold. Winter is coming and Christmas is just a couple corners away. 44 corners, to be exact.

What’s the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt?

I really don’t care. They’re both gross to me. The boys, however, both enjoy their yogurt for a bedtime snack. Bang loves his plain vanilla stuff while his brother enjoys berries in his. Except, just recently, he discovered a seasonal flavor – pumpkin spice Greek yogurt. This kind of yogurt is strained more than the regular stuff. This takes out the whey – the watery part of yogurt. Taking the whey out also removes the sugar and carbs. Sugar and carbs are the bad guys these day. They’re the assholes of the food world. It used to be fat, but fat got pardoned. Sugar and carbs have become the Bonnie and Clyde. That’s another difference – Greek yogurt is higher in fat and lower in sugar and carbs than regular yogurt. It also has more protein which means it will keep you feeling full longer than that sugary regular stuff.

Why can’t bats stand upright?

It sounds like the opening line of a joke. Like a hockey joke that goes “Why don’t Canadians drink tea? Because the Americans have all the cups”. Bats, however, are no joke. They can’t stand up. Their legs are too short and undeveloped for standing. They’re perfect for hanging, though. This is good because it’s the only way the bats will achieve flight. With legs shorter than the Maple Leafs win streak they can’t achieve enough lift from the ground. They can climb, though. So they climb to gain height then fall into flight. Like me sledding off my neighbor’s garage roof.

If parrots don’t have vocal cords how do they talk?

While some parrots, like our Piper bird, learn just a few words, other can learn nearly 2,000. It is true that parrots do not have vocal cords. I know a few people who shouldn’t have them, either. I won’t name any presidential names. Since they have no vocal cords, they use a syrinx. Located at the base of their trachea, its walls vibrate as air passes through it. By adjusting the tension of the syrinx, they can change the sound. In this manner they mimic everything from the smoke detector, to other animals, and learn speech. Alex, an African Grey parrot, understood categorization like “same and different” and “bigger and smaller”. He could identify objects by their shape (“Three-corner”, “Four-corner”, up to “Six-corner”) and material: when shown a pom-pom or a wooden block, he could answer “Wool” or “Wood” correctly as often as a presidential tweet made no sense. Alex could identify the difference between yellow and green same-sized objects by saying “Color” or identify a larger one by naming its color. If asked what the difference was between two identical blue keys, Alex learned to reply, “none.”

What’s a light year?

It’s to infinity and beyond! It’s not a measurement of time, as the word year might suggest. Instead, it’s a measure of distance. It’s the distance light travels in one year. Since it can travel 186,000 miles in one second, you can just imagine how far it goes in a year. You have to multiply that one second by 60 seconds in a minute. Then multiply that by 60 minutes in an hour. Then multiply that by 24 hours in a day. Then multiply that by 365 days in a year. 186,000 x 60 x 60 x 24 x 365 = about 5 trillion 900 billion miles. For comparison, the sun is only 8 light minutes aways. Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to Earth, is 4.4 light years away. For comparison, if the distance between Earth and sun were shrunk to an inch, Alpha Centauri would be four and half miles away. Our universe is huge. In fact, it’s so huge that light hasn’t had enough time to travel from one side to the other of it. Yet, here we are, on this little, blue marble hurtling through all of it.

6 thoughts on “Go Ask Your Father: Yogurts, Bats, Parrot Speech, and Light Years

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