#905 Summertime rain

One of my favorite times of year is summer which brings with it ‘monsoon season‘ and summertime rain.

Before I moved to Las Vegas I had only heard the Emergency Alert System doing their tests. Since moving to Las Vegas I hear the Emergency Alert System warnings for flash floods quite often, especially when that summertime rain comes. The rain comes and the hard desert ground can not handle it. It is dangerous because, like today, it was all about warm and blue skies. Next thing you know it was like this-

summertime rain 1ksmiles clouds

Fortunately the warning systems are pretty good and you can hop in the car or on the public transportation and get home just in time to see the sky open up and enjoy the show Mother Nature puts on for you.

summertime rain 1Ksmiles lightning

We are here to talk about smiles and things that make us happy so let me tell you this- the thing I like about summertime rain as opposed to rain in the winter is the warmth of the air. With summertime rain, I can go outside and enjoy it without having to bundle up in a heavy coat or such that just gets in the way of the warm rain drops on my skin.

If you ever find yourself in a place where it is warm and you can go outside and play in the summertime rain, grab a friend and your smiles and go outside. It always makes me smile and I bet it will for you too.

summertime rain 1Ksmiles girls

Have you had the chance to play in the summertime rain? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Here is one of my favorite bands, The Alarm, performing Rain in the Summertime. Enjoy

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#906 Silly String

Silly String is brightly colored, plastic string propelled as a stream of liquid from an aerosol can. The solvent in the string evaporates in mid-air and creates a continuous strand. It has various knock-offs called Whacky String or Party String or similar.

silly string cans

Silly String is often used during festive occasions such as weddings, birthday parties, carnivals and other events such as baby gender reveal parties. That’s right. Some couples who know the sex of their baby will buy a bunch of cans of Silly String in pink for girls or blue for boys depending on the sex of the baby. The cans are wrapped so no one can see the color of the contents and using a count down everyone squirts the Silly String into the air revealing the baby’s sex. Yippee!

silly string group

The military uses it to detect tripwires in places like Iraq. Talk about multi-functional eh?

According to Wikipedia a United States Patent was issued to the founders of Silly String, Leonard A. Fish and Robert P. Cox in 1972 as a “foamable resinous composition”. The partners initially wanted to create a can of aerosol that you would be able to spray on a broken/sprained leg or arm and turn into an instant cast. The invention was a success. But when it came down to packaging the can, the founders had to go through a box of 500 different kinds of nozzles. The article goes on to say that after going through about 30 or 40, Fish pressed one nice string that shot about 30 feet across the room. From there Fish came up with an idea to make the string less sticky and add different colors. Sort of like with Silly Putty, a fun toy came out of a sort of failed experiment.

Eventually Wham-O signed a contract with the founders to license what we now know as Silly String.

Basically it is just fun to squirt each other.

silly string buymerican.com

Raise your hands if you like playing with Silly String.

silly string mtv party

Yeah, me too. It always makes me smile.

Have you had the chance to play with Silly String or use it for some sort of other activity? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Pictures from here and here and here.

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#907 Desert Cicada

I was sitting in my office wondering if they serve tiramisu at Disneyland Tokyo when suddenly I realized there was a loud humming outside my window. The sound had slowly become so loud it was impossible to ignore. Oh yes, that lovely noise the Desert Cicada makes in the summer time in the high dessert.

If you read to the end I will offer you some trivia that will win you a bet. You are welcome.

Desert Cicada 1

The male desert cicada has on its abdomen two chambers covered with membranes called “tymbals” that it can vibrate, while at rest, to produce its mesmerizing song. It can make various sounds, including, an insistent call for a mate, as well as an excited call to flight, or a hoped-for bluff for its predators. The mating call is what I must be hearing as the sound is long and drawn out and constant. As far as its predators are concerned there are few as the desert cicada has adapted to the desert heat while other critters are hiding out in the shade to avoid the sun and hot air.

I will share a video of the sound of a desert cicada a little later in the post.

Desert Cicada 2

Cicada reproduce by laying eggs in the stems of plants. The larvae hatch and drop to the ground where they burrow into the soil and live underground for years, some species staying underground for 17 years. The cicada will spend all but the first moments and the last few weeks of its life as a nymph in its underground chambers. Eventually, they come up out of the ground, shed their exoskeleton, and emerge as an adults. The males then buzz, mate, and die while the females mate, lay eggs, and die. Not too exciting for them I guess.

According to Desert USA the cicada does not bite or sting and apparently is quite tasty.

Early English naturalist Thomas Moufet wrote that the cicada “eats nothing belonging to the earth and drinks only dew, proving cleanliness, purity and propriety; it will not accept wheat or rice, thus indicating its probity and honesty; – how appealing to celestial conservatives! It appears always at a fixed time, showing it is endowed with fidelity, sincerity and truthfulness.”

By now you must be curious as to what the desert cicada sounds like. Watch this video to hear for yourself.


desert cicada kokopelli tattoo

And now as promised, some trivia to impress your friends. Surely you have seen the image of Kokopelli?

Well, it is actually a desert cicada.

So to all you girlies with a Kokopelli tattoo… That is a bug. A beautiful sounding bug but still a bug.

A bug that always makes me smile.

Have you had the chance to hear the desert cicada? Or is there some other critter’s sound that makes you smile? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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#908 Lunch with a friend

It was one of those days when it looked liked-

cat looking in kitchen cabinet

Then I called up a friend and invited him to lunch.

lunch with a friend

…and that always makes me smile.

If you have one of those days when it looks like you are going to have a little extra time and you have no lunch plans, call up a friend and share some lunch together. It just might make you smile too.

monk eatswith tiger

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#909 The crack of a bat hitting a baseball

For some reason people either love or hate baseball. The Haters say it is too slow. “At least with football every play is a potential scoring opportunity.” Yes, as is the case with baseball so their point is invalid right?

baseball 3 bat bats

Personally I think baseball is supposed to be a leisurely game even though no one is really sure where or how the game originated. I enjoy sitting outside on a warm summer night with a hot dog and a soda, maybe some peanuts or Cracker Jacks chatting with friends during the slow parts. But the one thing I do know that always brings me back to the action is that sound when the ball hits the bat just the right way producing that sharp cracking noise.

Jim Hunter, the voice of the Orioles on radio station WBAL said, “”When you’re at a ballgame and a guy gets good wood on the ball, there’s a sound that it makes that kind of reverberates throughout the ballpark. It’s almost a violent sound. You can tell when that occurs, as opposed to when a guy just puts the ball in play.”

baseball 2 bat bats

Dr. Robert Adair, a Yale physicist wrote in “The Crack of the Bat: The Acoustics of the Bat Hitting the Ball” that the crack of a well-hit ball is not just louder or sharper than the clunk of a ball hit off the end of the bat or off its handle, but a different sound completely.

He said that when struck at most points along the length of the bat, it vibrates as does a guitar string, resonating with waves too small for the human eye to see. Yet those vibrations, involving frequencies at around 170 oscillations per second and higher generate a dull thud.

baseball 3 bat bats

By contrast, he said, a crack is the explosive sound of outrushing air when, for less than a millisecond, or thousandth of a second, the baseball is hit so hard that it flattens out and literally wraps itself around the front of the bat.

Joe Carpenter, lead mixer for Fox Sports’ MLB games said, “The sound of the bat is at the heart of the game’s sound.” I could not agree more. It is the sound that alerts everyone, including the players, that something big just happened.

I could not agree more. And it is the part of the game that always makes me smile the most.

Do you like baseball? Is it too slow for your taste? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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