Singing to the moon

February 28th, 2013

“ Listen to them – children of the night. What music they make. “
Bram Stoker

Nothing gets you in the mood for a good horror story or film like the howling of a lone wolf or a wolf pack and of course a full moon. And just what is the howling all about? And why does the neighbors Chihuahua howl every time the police or paramedics go by?

Well let’s start with the wolves. No one really knows for sure why wolves howl. However there are some theories. One theory is that wolves are using audio to mark their rather large territories. Some Canadian and Alaskan packs have been known to have territories that span 1000 miles. So it makes sense that instead of using up a great deal of energy patrolling their territorial border that they would use their howling to alert other packs of where they are and to back off.
Another theory is that they are communicating amongst members of their own pack. It’s a bit like a whale echo locating to determine where it is. A lone wolf will howl to find out where the pack is and vice versa or perhaps someone has found a source of food and wants to alert the pack.

Here are some white wolves howling

The art of howling seems to be a genetic or ancestral trait as this little punk demonstrates

The common ancestor of all dogs is the wolf. Yes even that puffball in the purse and so it only makes sense that dogs know how to do it. However they no longer spend any time in packs roaming territory so they need a trigger. Apparently the sound of an ambulance or police car is close enough to a wolf howl and that’s all dogs need to get their ancestral vocal chords singing.

And then there is the simplest possibility – it’s just fun!
Until the next time.

Charmed, I’m sure!

February 19th, 2013


What a majestic creature, the King Cobra, hood flared out and ready to strike.
Like many things in the world, things are not always what they seem. So let’s start off the blog with this short 2-minute clip:

Interesting clip and sorry for all you people who are afraid of snakes, ophidiophobes! I guess I should have posted a slither alert. Anyway, let’s take a closer look at snake charming. What the pied piper would have us believe is that the snake is being hypnotized by his most excellent flute playing. Notice how the snake seems to sway in time to the music. But what if the charmer played a Michael Bolton song? I know some of you might be thinking impure thoughts and envisioning poor Michael playing his clarinet and being bitten repeatedly by an enraged cobra! Ha ha.
The truth is that no one knows if snakes can hear sound through the air. They have some of the gear, like a traditional inner ear but they don’t have eardrums. You would think that if they had an inner ear then they must hear in some way.
Researchers have discovered that they pick up sound vibrations via their jawbones. This is useful to a snake in that they can sense juicy little mice running across a field or over Michael Bolton’s unconscious snake bitten body.
Snake hearing research is still in its infancy and so far it appears that snakes don’t respond to air born sounds. So the snakes in the video are not shaking their groove thing to the flute.

So what are they doing?
Cobra’s contrary to popular belief are not the studs of the snake world. Cobra’s would rather scare a threat away rather than do battle. When a cobra stands, its body language is saying, “ back off and don’t mess with me! “ In the context of snake charming, the cobra is all snug and feeling safe in the box or sack and is probably a bit on the cold side and a bit sluggish. When the charmer whacks on the box and takes the lid off, the cobra is like, “ what the hell! “ and takes a defensive, threatening posture. The cobra sways, not in time to the music but to the movement of the flute.

Why is the flute a threat?
Sadly, during snake-charming training the cobra, believing that the flute was a threat, painfully jammed it’s fangs into the hard flute over and over again and now associates the flute with pain. So the cobra stands, flares its hood and keeps the flute within striking distance at all times.
And speaking of striking, you’ll notice that the charmer avoids being struck time and again. This is because he knows that the striking distance of the cobra is about one third of its body length (equal to it’s standing height) and the chances of him getting bitten are miniscule. Some unscrupulous charmers defang their snakes but apparently that is considered unsportsmanlike like in the snake-charming world.

And there you have it.
Michael? Michael? Wake up, Michael!

My Ears are Bleeding

February 7th, 2013


If you were like me when you were a teenager, you liked your music fast and loud. I couldn’t get enough of loud rock music and I usually spent all my money on records and concerts. Back in those days there wasn’t as much concern over hearing loss. Thankfully I only remember my ears ringing after one concert and they rang for hours afterward. Yes I’m cringing just thinking about it!

The last time I played in a band we all wore ear plugs and now if I’m going to a show that will be generously amplified, I take the ear plugs along and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

So let’s take a quick look at sound levels:

I know I’ve been into the world records a lot in the last few blogs but here’s one more I think you’ll like and it’s ok to laugh at the band because they are ridiculous.

Party on Garth!
So if you look back at the chart you see that the bands world record actually causes immediate hearing damage. Way to go boys!
I said, “ WAY TO GO BOYS! “

All kidding aside, this is no laughing matter and prolonged exposure to loud sounds is just as bad as suffering through a Manowar concert. I’m not going to go in to specifics about how your ears are damaged. If you are interested, you’ll do your own research. I was curious about how the world sounds with varying degrees of hearing loss and I’ll turn that over to Fred Flintstone…

Fortunately, in 2013 more attention is given to hearing loss than back in my teenage years. And there is more and more evidence that some forms of hearing loss can be revered or greatly improved. Tinitus for example.

And finally, how do you think you’d fare on a hearing test? I have a video that begins at the lowest frequencies we as humans are capable of hearing and then increase in frequency. This will tell you your hearing range from lowest to highest frequency.
I started to hear sound at 40 hz. Oh yes and don’t think that turning the volume up on your computer will help you hear the lower frequencies – it won’t. You can either hear them or not. Enjoy.


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