Linda Gorchels blogs

Contemplate a Smile

It’s cold outside. So, I opted for warm and fuzzy contemplation topics this week. Something to make you smile or say, “huh?” Let’s start with animal sounds.

What Does a Rooster Say?

I was listening to A Way with Words on NPR recently. One of the listeners called in to comment that children in different countries pronounce animal sounds differently. Actually, it’s the name of the sound (rather than ani imitation of the sound) that’s pronounced differently.

There are different rules for different languages. Some are more nasal and others are more guttural, changing the pronunciation of the sounds. And some have different alphabets. While the name of the sound cats make (some variation of meow) holds steady across most languages, that’s not true for other animals.

For example, in the United States, children’s books portray the sound of a rooster as cock-a-doodle-doo. But in Russia it’s ku-ka-re-kú; in China it’s wo-wo-wo, and in Germany it’s kickeriki. The following humorous YouTube videos give more examples.

Who is Barbie?

I didn’t buy Barbie dolls for my daughters when they were growing up. I wasn’t sure that was the role modeling I wanted for them. (In full disclosure, they DID receive Barbie dolls from their paternal grandma.) But now there are options. National Geographic has teamed up with Mattel to offer explorer Barbie dolls that display all-terrain boots and gear rather than “tiaras and high heels.” The line includes “an astrophysicist, a conservationist, an entomologist, a marine biologist, and a nature photojournalist.”

Scientific Insights for a Meaningful Life

The Greater Good Magazine recently published an article titled: “The Top 10 Insights from the ‘Science of a Meaningful Life’ in 2019.” I listed the ten subheadings to give you a flavor of the ideas. It’s a start, but the entire short article is worth reading.

  • Happy people are more willing to tackle social problems
  • In the long run, diversity wins
  • Awe changes our brains for the better
  • Treating yourself gets old fast—but giving to others doesn’t
  • Practicing loving-kindness slows aging
  • Your partner’s emotional health could affect your longevity
  • People who are more forgiving sleep better
  • Kids who engage in the arts feel better about themselves
  • Feeling grateful makes us more honest
  • Seeing goals as a journey makes you more likely to stick to them

Humans are Cooling Off

What is the average body temperature? Since the late 1800s, 98.6° F (37° C) was considered the average temperature for a healthy individual. However, that norm is changing. In a study published in the journal eLife, researchers from Stanford University analyzed over 600,000 measurements from almost 200,000 people in three databases. One was from Civil War veterans, the second from a national study in the 1970s, and the third from a Stanford database from the 2000s. After “adjusting for age, height, weight and, in some models date and time of day,” the study indicated that the average American body temperature has dropped about 0.05 F per decade. This is consistent with a separate British study from 2017 that  “showed a decrease in the average from 98.6F [to about] about 97.88 F or 36.6 degrees Celsius.”