Spring is Here!

Here on the US East Coast we finally got some warm weather. Don’t think I’ve appreciated the coming of spring quite this much in a long time. We’ve had a harder winter than usual and it really amazes me how resilient the plants and wildlife are. With the temperature just creeping above the 40 degree mark (farenheit) there were already lots of moths flying around at night. Toads are back in full force after their seeming disappearing act. I know that frogs winter under the muck in ponds and streams, but where do all these land lubbing toads go?

I hear that some toads of other places can seal themselves in some sort of mud ball and go into some sort of suspended animation for several years in order to survive droughts. Makes me wonder how many other creatures are designed to endure droughts in such a way.

Spadefoot Toad
Great Basin Spadefoot Toad

 

This toad can dry out like a prune and stay that way for years until water returns and he can reconstitute like nothing ever happened!

How many other creatures are also engineered this way by their Creator?
 
Wayne Hollyoak

Horses and Other Engineering Marvels

Depending on which way I decide to drive into work each morning i frequently will have to stop for a “horse crossing” at a horse racetrack. There will be jockeys and warm-up riders taking these magnificent creatures from the stables to the warm-up track across this street and a crossing guard will leave his guard station to direct traffic as needed.

These horses are bred for speed and not so much for docility. They don’t always respond well to the rider’s direction and will act very nervously towards the waiting stopped vehicles. Horses were designed for human riders. The shape of the back, the mane, the hooves, the temperament and so on all indicate this. And yet, each of them have a distinct character if you will. Some just walk calmly across the street, while others seem to be very anxious about the situation and ready to bolt at any moment.

Even so, they will yield to the guiding of their riders eventually and allow us motorists to continue on our ways. Horses are big, powerful animals and people that handle such creatures must be very skilled riders to manage them. My limited experience with horseback riding has taught me that horses don’t seem to mind being ridden, though they would rather be doing their own thing like grazing or standing quietly somewhere near some other horses.

Waiting at this crossing can be a pain, but the opportunity to admire one of the Creator’s masterpieces of engineering is well worth it.

Wayne Hollyoak

Wise Things

Had a near run-in with a rather large spider yesterday morning as I was going out the door. I opened the front door and there must have been this big wolf spider exploring the upper door sill that decided that it was time to bail. So, it rappelled on its silk thread down to the concrete porch floor directly in front of me.

It was an impressive sight and not a little scary, too! Wolf spiders don’t ordinarily spin webs to catch their prey. They are more like football players who like to tackle. They are brown and hairy looking and like to roam around our houses at night for tasty bugs they can tackle and sip on their bodily juices. If your house is cockroach-free, don’t get too proud. You may want to thank all the wolf spiders hiding in your furniture as much as your cleaning abilities.

Solomon made reference to spiders in the Book of Proverbs as being wise little fellows, “The spider takes hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.”

Wayne Hollyoak

What a Stink!

I was writing here on my computer this morning when I was interrupted by a tiny visitor. One of the gazillion stink bugs that had invaded our house last fall is traipsing across my mouse-pad and flying into my monitor screen as I’m trying to write.

What an amazing little fellow he is, too! He’s living up to his reputation as being a “true bug” right now, but that’s his prerogative. After all, he’s been a boarder here for 4 months or so and that without food or water to sustain him. No doubt his renewed activity is a sign of Spring being close and he’s suffering from cabin fever and not “just a bit” hungry!

He weighs in at a hefty gram or so and yet he is able to unfold his neatly creased tuxedo into a pair of powerful wings and fly back out into the wilderness again pretty soon. Then “he”, or “she” as the case may be will go about the task of finding a mate and eggs will be laid so new little baby bugs will get their starts.

But, how do they manage to live inside my house so long without sustenance? This fellow doesn’t look any trimmer and seems to fly well enough to totally amaze me. It would be easy enough to call it miraculous, without a doubt this is truly one awesome feat of engineering! Nuf said!

Wayne Hollyoak

Keeping Perspective

Watched “Winged Migration” last night. It was wonderful to see so many different birds close up and in detail in flight. Geese, ducks, sea gulls, storks and a bunch of others flying in formations. Fantastic animals, powerful, graceful, determined, traveling thousands of miles nonstop.

I wonder how they could have been engineered so perfectly and efficient.  Wood ducks, pelicans, designed with wind tunnel exactness and precision. These are no half-baked ultralite aircraft with wire and tubing and nylon cloth sewn together. No primative and awkward F16’s or fuel guzzling 747’s that are so delicate that they can only land on level paved runways thousands of feet in length.

Birds are the real deal! Snow geese pumping their ultra efficient wings with massive muscles for hours on end fueled with only a couple pounds of food and muscle fat! The narrator suggests they may be homing in on the sun, stars and the earth’s magnetic field in order to return to the exact place of their birth each year. Do they fly in “v” patterns in order to help fine tune their course by drawing from the recollected sight map from each member of the team? Who can say for sure?

How much time did it take to design each one? A day, a week,  a year? What tools were employed and how were the designs tested? Was it a solo effort, or were there “design teams” employed to work on a species, a genera perhaps? Each having their own approach to feather form and balance, food gathering behavior, balancing flight speed and manuevering capabilities. Vocalization patterns and voicing, land mobility and coordination, colors, style and visual appeal. Some like the magnificent macaws, seem to be painted just so in order to put a smile on the faces of men and women.

 How did i ever swallow the lies about hoakie “evolution”  and lame “natural selection”? I’m embarrassed to admit that i did and for a very long time. I did though, but never again!! Movies like “Winged Migration” really help me see things more clearly. Like the incredible treasures of love that our Creator has poured upon us.

Will we ever REALLY appreciate all the work that went into designing and sustaining all these wonderful and amazing creatures? I suppose thanking our Heavenly Father and Creator and Savior for them is a start, at least.

 Wayne Hollyoak

Supercomputers Approach the Power of a Half Wit Mouse

Read an interesting article in the news yesterday. A new supercomputer has been built by IBM that sort of makes the once mighty “Cray l” look like a Commodore 64 by comparison in terms of computing power.

Big powerful computers like this one get used for special purposes such as complex simulations like those used to help weather prediction and such. Though computers are often refered to as “electronic brains”, it appears that for the most part that is an undeserved compliment.

One of the tasks that this new supercomputer seems to be capable of is the simulation of the operation of “one side of a mouse’s brain”. This amazing computer is man’s best effort so far at trying to manufacture something with real brainpower. This massive machine fills a room and cost beucoup millions of bucks to build not to mention all the hours of work by the greatest experts in the computer world.

To match the computing power of half a brain of a mouse that weighs in at about a gram it takes 50 years of computer development and armies of engineers to come up with a machine fast and powerful enough to handle the task.

Well almost anyway. It seems that the computer can process most of the data that half a mouse brain is capable of, but at a fraction of the speed. It’s a good thing for mice that Someone much smarter than us designed its brain.

Wayne Hollyoak

Doggie Speak

I have 4 dogs and 2 cats. Each of them are completetely different in their personalities? I mean totally unique in so many ways. Yesterday I went to see my mom who lives about 90 miles away. So, i took Shultzie the schnauzer with me. He really loves going “bye bye” and can’t wait to get in the car.

My mom loves Shultz! He was my constant shadow following me everywhere and plopping down at my feet whenever i sat down. Shultzie’s also a  “talker”. If I start talking to him, he starts panting with his mouth open in sort of a doggie smile. I’d say, “Shultzie, do you love grandma?” and he’d reply with a happy squeel and a bark.

Shultzie’s like that, he seems to know what you’re saying somehow. At home if i say, “where’s your toy?” he will look away and pause for a moment (like he’s trying to remember where he left it) and walk away. Soon he’s back with one of his toys.

Does Shultzie really know what I’m saying?