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Updated: 05/06/04

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Thursday, 06 May, 2004

It's freezing in my office. I am wearing my coat while I type. Not that that's unusual, mind you.

My office has been cold for months, ever since they moved two printers into an office down the row from me, and said that they had to turn down the thermostat (located in my office) in order to keep the printers happy. So my office was cold. The workstations outside my office were cold. The fan blew constantly. We all ordered space heaters for our desks because we were freezing. Building Maintenence conducted a midnight raid and took away our space heaters a couple of months ago as a "fire hazard". So now we're back to being cold.

A couple of days ago, Keith from Building Maintenence arrived and stared at the thermostat. I asked, "Are you going to turn it up?" Ah, no. It appears that despite already turning down the temperatures, the printers are still overheating - it's showing 80 degrees in there, causing the paper to jam - so they needed to turn down the thermostat. Again.

Keith said, "I'm not going to do this. You'll freeze to death."

[Thank you, Keith.]

It feels colder in here today. Carol thinks it is too. Maybe they're coming in at night and lowering the temperature by a degree every day, hoping I'll just get used to it. I have made a suggestion to management that perhaps they needs to find a way to cool the printer room separately, or even *gasp* put the printers in a room designed for printers, not people.

[Or maybe I should just work from home.]

It's all about the chicks. At least that's what this story about whale songs indicates. The whale biologists are pretty darn funny, too. [Emphasis mine]

BOSTON - The humpback whale is believed to sing its mysterious songs for the same reason generations of teens have started bad garage bands: to get girls. But researchers hadn't guessed how long or persistently the ocean crooners woo their women.

Scientists who listened as humpbacks roamed feeding grounds off Cape Cod heard continuous singing during springtime, when whales are supposed to be focused on eating.

The findings undermine long-held assumptions about humpback behavior, said whale biologist Phillip Clapham of the Northeast Fishery Sciences Center, co-author of a paper on the singing in the current issue of Proceedings Royal Society, Biology.

"It tells us whales don't read the text books, which is really annoying," he said.

The whales haven't suddenly taken to a new stage off the Cape, said Cornell University professor Christopher W. Clark, a bioacoustics expert and the paper's co-author. "I'm sure they were doing it," Clark said. "We just never listened."

Clark and Clapham had hoped to hear the chatty, rare and hard-to-track North Atlantic right whale when they began recording in an area of Georges Bank, about 80 nautical miles east of the Cape, between May and June 2000.

Instead, they heard almost nothing but humpbacks singing. Clark was surprised because humpbacks were believed to save their songs for their winter mating season in the tropics.

"They're supposed to be singing down in the Caribbean, where guys are on the corner and the girls are out in short skirts," he said. "They're not supposed to be singing at suppertime."


Clapham said the whales could be singing because their hormone levels are still high from winter. Or they could be establishing bonds with females in hopes of hooking up during the next mating season, he said.

They also might be trying to immediately mate with females who didn't conceive the previous winter, he said. Whaling catch data indicates humpbacks have been conceived outside of the winter mating season, even though it's rare for females to ovulate then.

More study is needed on the humpbacks, which are endangered but recovering, with an estimated 11,500 in the North Atlantic. Clapham said in the end the spring singing may just be a chance for "low cost advertising" the male humpback is eating and there are females around, so he might as well give it a shot, mating season or not.


Quote du jour:

"There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something we'd all love one another."

-- Frank Zappa (1940 - 1993) US singer, guitarist, philosopher, actor

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