Little-known facts about the humpback whale


  • The humpback whale is a member of the family of whales known as baleen whales, because they were all made by the Indian god Baleen for a contest once; he would have won too, except Raven tricked him.

  • The humpback whale is forty to fifty feet long, and weighs about 80,000 pounds.
  • The humpback whale sings in a vertical position, head pointed down, at a depth of about fifty feet, for hours at a time, stopping only to come up for air, and maybe breach and splash around a little.
  • Here is an important humpback whale fact: the lyrics to some of their songs are so sad they would kill you if you understood them.
  • Humpback whales are sadder about the recent death of Robert Goulet than they will admit, although it was not their fault.
  • If humpback whales ever learn Tuvan throat-singing, wow.
  • You know those recordings of humpback whale-song they sell in hippie stores? Humpback whales receive NO ROYALTIES from them, which is why it’s a bad idea to go whale watching alone, if you’re a hippie.
  • Franz Kafka: What’s with all this fish stuff, anyway?
  • Little girl: Strictly speaking, whales are mammals.
  • Franz Kafka: Whatever. Hunchback whales.
  • Little girl: Humpback whales. Megaptera novaeangliae. Plus, we’re in the wrong post, Franz. Take a number, and Mig will get back to you as soon as he can.
  • Franz Kafka: Hey! I got number eight! That’s not half bad!
  • Little girl: You’re holding it sideways.
  • Bad mackerel have been implicated in many humpback whale deaths.

Counting the days

Gamma, this morning: “I can’t wait for April first!”

Mr. Evil

Gamma gave us all new names this weekend. She is Dr. Bad. The kitten is Mr. Evil. I am Mrs. Cottoncool.

Caption contest


I had to get this out of my head. Thanks in advance.

You jumped when I coughed

Sorry, I hope I didn’t scare you.
Just got a little Listerine down my wind pipe.
That stuff’s almost as bad as absinthe.
Cause, sometimes I scare people.
When I sneeze, too. I’m a loud sneezer.
Or strange children. I remember a little girl in Krakow who was scared of my bushy, black beard.
Back in the days when I had a bushy beard, and it was black.
It’s only fair, I guess. Strange children scare me as well.
Like the little brother of the girl with the abusive father Gamma used to play with because no one else would, the quiet one with dark rings around his eyes, who clocked her with a big chunk of frozen slush one winter when her back was turned.
Clocked Gamma, I mean.
He was always so quiet, people will say some day.
Listen, let me tell you something.
Oh, wait, first: we have a new cat. A kitten.
Before we picked him up, I did the calculations: (f+p)f
“f” is the number of family members living under your roof, “p” is the number of pets you have. The result is your chaos coefficient.
Going from four family members with three pets to four pets doubled our chaos.
He likes the expensive wicker chairs in the kitchen because they’re the highest point in the room he has access to. So tomorrow Gamma and I go to the pet store to buy a climbing/scratching tower that’s taller than the chairs.
Also: he’s a genius! He loves his litter box! God bless him!
Ear mites, but I’m getting pretty good at ear mites.
Anyway, listen: I took these pills.
I was suffering from non-dimensionalism, which is the medical term for having shrunk down to a point. I didn’t even have length, man.
Thing is, I had grown so used to it that I went to the doctor for something else.
“Went to the doctor.” Two specialists had no luck, so I went to a generalist who also does… I wanted to type “herpetology”. Homeopathy, she does homeopathy. She interviewed me for two hours.
In great detail. Like, I hadn’t even noticed my craving for peanut butter.
And she gave me ten little pills, five of which I dissolved under my tongue that night, five more the next morning.
That very next morning, I was different. Like turning on a light.
I had three dimensions again.
Everyone noticed the difference.
I bumped into an acquaintance who asked me how I was and instead of dithering and wanting to explain for half an hour, I said, honestly, Very good.
Fine, in fact.
Whether it was the pills, or the two-hour interview, or some placebo effect, who knows?
It sure was nice.
I’m back down to about two dimensions right now, but it’s still excellent and I figure with a little effort I might be able to bounce myself back up to three.

All souls

Gamma and I took the cats into the vet this morning for tune-ups. We studied a glossy, full-color poster in the waiting room, which gave all the details on the various parasitic worms cats can suffer from.
“That would make a great placemat,” I said.
“Especially at an Italian restaurant,” Gamma replied.

I got a little bottle of medicine to squirt into the red cat’s ears and massage around. He’s not crazy about it, but he’s got the ear mites.

I did various things today. Drove around. Washed dishes a few times. Alpha leaves tomorrow on a business trip so she was packing and stuff. She lit a candle on the kitchen table and placed a little card next to it, an obituary announcement we had printed up for my father last year.

I read the card and realized today was the anniversary of his death. I had known it was around now, but did not recall the exact date.

A couple weeks ago, I stepped out of the music school one dark night just as a skinny old guy wearing a baseball cap walked past. He had the same build and the same posture and walk, and the part of my brain that sees things first, before the logical part analyzes them, said, “Dad.”

It was the closest I’ve come to seeing a ghost. I like to think that’s what I saw. Also the phone rang this morning at five, about the time my mother called us last year to give us the news. A single ring.

Wrong number, I guess. No one there when Alpha answered.

We went into Vienna yesterday and walked around and spent money, the whole family. Beta drove. Practicing driving with her is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done in a long time. I had expected it would be harder, with more fighting, but we turn out to be a good team in this, as in other things.

She just called, I have to leave in a few minutes and pick her up at the train station, she was in Vienna this evening visiting a friend.