Monday, August 29, 2005

The Mouse that Roared

A Familiar logo to most. This is on the middle stack of the Disney Magic Cruise Ship. As I write this I hope all its stacks made it back through the Panama Canal and to their berth in lower Florida. Probably just missing "Katrina" and better to be "at sea" during a Category 5 Hurricane.

We saw the kids eat mouse-shaped ice cream bars and get blobs of ketchup made by Okim, our server, in this familar shape. There was a "hidden mickey" tour onboard. And everytime we heard from Mickey and Minnie in picture ops and shows they were pre-recorded. They both have that blank, happy stare that most beginning cartoonist can practice and make. Mickey's first name was Mortimer but, thanks to Walt's wife, it was changed to Mickey via "Steamboat Willie". A brilliant marketing move for a powerful brand.

But enough about this interpretation of the logo. The title refers to a favorite movie with Peter Sellers about a mini kingdom and ruler that are brought to fame and wealth by the then U.S. policy of "helping" such 3rd world places that held some kind of strategic promise (at least for comedy) What would we do without the lowly mouse? I know our garage would be devoid of life. I used them when I took my Psych. Labs. for demonstrating "behaviorist theory". Training rats and mice to "learn" various behaviors and mazes was all the rage. Even a favorite children's book is "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Mrs. Frisby was a very smart mouse that taught herself how to read and unlock cages at the National Institute of Mental Health.

Now, the latest research inTexas has found a naturally occuring hormone that can extend the lifespan of mice by as much as 30%. This opens the way for more research into human longevity. It just seems to have a couple of serious drawbacks: decreased fertility and increased susceptibility to diabetes. This was recently reported in the Journal of Science. The hormone - called klotho after one of the Greek fates who controlled the length of human life - is produced in the brain and kidneys in a variety of species but leaks into the bloodstream. They have genetically engineered mice to produce excess amounts of this hormone and cause males to live 31% longer than the normal two years. Females lived only 19% longer. The hormone was found to increase the body's resistance to insulin which correlates with extended lifespan.

Low-calorie diets that prolong life, for example, increase insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is also a symptom of diabetes, but the altered mice were not found to have unusually high levels of glucose in their blood, the primary symptom of the disease. The hormone is also found in humans, and the researchers are beginning to look to see if long-lived people have above-average levels of it in their blood.

Recently I have had a number of people comment about my looking healthier and younger. It is very flattering at the time but now that I think about it, there may be an underlying reason. I have recently changed my lifestyle and felt healthier. I've lost weight, become more active and lowered my job-related stress. Yes, I changed jobs and am much happier with Pardee. This builder takes care of its workers. I still meditate almost daily. I've added fish to my vegetarian diet but I've decreased my intake (portion size) and snacking...especially at night. No food, only water after 8P.M. I get regular blood tests because of the Methatrexate I'm taking...a minimal amount. My immune system is somewhat compromised but my blood is a vampire's dream. This has helped me get back to walking and swimming. Maybe I have, like the mice, increased my longevity. I'm all for that if it is positive, healthy and active. I would hate to have a longer life and be obese and bed or chair ridden. It would be torture. If we could only extend the youthful part of our lives when we really felt great. Of course we didn't/wouldn't have the wisdom and where-withal then to do the life-lengthening behaviors. Then we'd rather burn the candle at both ends, drink too much alcohol and eat foods that are harder to digest etc. As the old "German"(?) saying goes: "Ve git too soon oldt and too late smart."

Yes, I know, I'm feeling just like "a roaring mouse" with all this talk. I didn't listen to my elders either. Generations don't really want to learn much from each other do they? And mice don't live that long anyway. Bob

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Wooden's Pyramid of Success

In the L.A. Times Sports Section today there is an article about Coach Wooden and his Annual Award for Success in Basketball. His picture is there too. He will be 95 and still very active. His website (see the Link I have put on this blog) has his philosophy and his famous Pyramid of Success. He taught this and lived it all those 10 years of National Championships. The values therein are still honored and sought by those who would be "successful", not only in sports like basketball, but in life.

He has decided to remove his participation in the Annual Award baring his name to the best male and female college basketball player as judged by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. (L.A.A.C.) Basically, they wanted sole use of his name for that award and he has given it to another award ie. "Athletes for a Better World- Wooden Cup" for a "professional athlete" Peyton Manning. Evidently he didn't know that L.A.AC.'s use was thought to be exclusive for the past 28 years, one every year and in 2004 and 2005: two, male and female. He is saying there are no "hard feelings" but just feels he should be able to lend his "name" to more than just the one award. He has left it up to his children to negotiate. I guess when you get to be 95 you can do that.

However, it seems to me that he may be missing the "point" of his pyramid and the meaning behind the awards. It is not his "name" but the evidence and use of the values in "his pyramid" that need to be honored and remembered in these honorees. Has he forgotten in his foundation he has promoted the strength of "LOYALTY" and "COOPERATION"? After 28 years of choosing the best "college athletes" (his area of expertise) why would he switch to "professionals" $$$? Why would he forget his original "INTENT" in his second tier? What about "TEAM SPIRIT" in his third tier? Has something happened to his "L.A.A.C. team? He has handled it with "POISE" but not "CONFIDENCE". Has he kept the "FAITH"? This, he says, is the mortar along with patience, that holds it all together.

This, to me, illustrates what can happen when we put too much importance and "faith" in people even leaders like Coach Wooden. We are human and much of the time driven by "ego". This is all to evident in many "religions" or "sects" that rely too much on their leaders either current or dead/immortal. And yet, young minds do need examples and leadership in values like the above. Traditionally we have gone to religions for that. We have had faith in those religous values and precepts. ie. revelations received by "leaders" and written about in scriptures of that religion. Examples for parents to teach their children so they can make their own decisions...if that really is possible. We all have input from those we look up to: some good, some not so good...flawed. It puts an awful lot of pressure on us parents doesn't it. To be tolerant, flexible and all of the above in that "pyramid of success". Yes, we each have to continually work it out daily by the way we act and react to everything and everybody...and it doesn't seem to get easier the older we get. Have faith in yourself and your innate ability to do your best for those you love. I do. BOB!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"Fight On!"

You may have noticed that one of my favorite links on the right side of this blog is "U.S.A. Bookstore". That is a "type-o". It should read "U.S.C. Bookstore". I'm going to get this fixed soon by my son, "the computer expert". I would like to refer you all to the Alumni Website also. I think they both will be very active in the coming season. There were articles all over today's papers/regular and sports sections about U.S.C.'s record setting football team and the merchandising and logo endorsements it has promoted. I got this hat from that website last season after "my team" won back-to-back national championships. In a week or so they are set to start this year's season and a unpresidented "three peat"...back-to-back-to-back. Whenever I have worn this hat recently, I have received spontaneous comments and sometimes just our slogan, "Fight On!" from perfect strangers. I have a hooded, logo sweatshirt too. Same reaction. People identify with a winner.

It is not that I gravitate to the "popularized" merchandized logos; I don't usually. Believe me, after just being thoroughly "Disney-fied" on our cruise, I can see how much I resist and resent such brazen commercialism and mindless identification. However, this particular logo and what it represents to me is truly something I do identify with and alway have. Let me explain.

Back when I was ready to think of a career that involved my love of kids and learning, this was the school/university that accepted me in a special "Ford Foundation" program to get my teaching credentials. Back then, the basic units were not as outragiously expensive as they are today, but they were beyond my reach financially. I commuted to the campus, parked and soaked up the "spirit" and atmoshere surrounding "Tommy Trojan". My girl friend then, now my wife, worked at Signal Oil and Gas and I'd stop by to and from and actually call in/dictate papers to her on the phone that she would then whip up and polish off for my pick up later. I shopped at the old, original Bookstore for all my books...ivy covered walls across from "Tommy's Statue" Later I took graduate courses there to keep up my credits for credentials in counseling and administration. I'd say "Hi" to Coach Robinson in passing. Jim Mc Kay was the coach when I was first there. I've since had several students who eventually went there via Mark Maguire. One summer I took "Teaching As A Performing Art" at the L.A. Music Center with many classroom experiences and local neighborhood connections a S.C. I went to some games at the Coliseum but mostly I listened to my team regularly on the radio/TV coverage. Over the years, good and bad, I've been loyal. I never had the time or money to go to their many Rose Bowl appearances.

This is all well and good, almost expected. Fan-hood is not all that unusual these days. But the real reason I identify with this team/school is their reputation and the way they play the game...They NEVER GIVE UP! They are known for that. They are well conditioned and can be counted on late in the game to "come back" and keep trying even when they are behind or there are only several seconds left to play. Yes, they are known as a "second half team". Thus, the meaning of the slogan, "Fight On!" The music of the fight song, the white horse Traveler and Trojan rider stir that spirit of perseverance...we do not quit! Nor do I.

Now I'm looking forward to our next cruise of the Greek Isles and Ports. I want to see where the ancient fables and tales of Greeks and Trojan Horses began. This part of history has always facinated me. This is also the birthplace of the ideals of democracy, philosophy and western civilization. The Arts, my love, from Athens and the rigor and discipline of Sparta...always juxtaposed and necessary for any worthwhile endeavor...especially...fighting on. Bob

Sunday, August 21, 2005

"It's a small world after all."

This life preserver is at one end of the adult pool "Quiet Cove". It is more for decoration but seems to be fully functional. The pool is only 4 feet deep with a wide deck surrounding it which is always about 3 inches submerged. It sloshes with the roll of the boat. There is really no reason to use it or to use my name "Bob". You can bask or float, but no bobbing. We spent alot of time at the pool when the rest were in port at Cabo. Got a bit of a sunburn. Very hot and humid. Betty and I made progress on our current "summer reading" novels. Very enjoyable, however, the real joy...

Was experiencing all of this cruise through the eyes of our grandchildren. There was so much for them to do every minute of the day and night just about. Disney puts them first in their entertainment venues too. At the restaurants they get served first and catered to in every way. They have a different menu with puzzles and things to do at every meal. Our Assist. Server, Okim, made origami and napkin animals, did magic and made their cruise very special. They could spend most of the day "checked in" at "D. Sea U." or the "Sea Lab" of Oceanology. They had facinating things to do and learn. Part of the last evening's entertainment was the "graduation" of all 200+ of them on the Walt Disney Stage/Theater. They all "turned their tassels from "port to starboard" They are a big part of Disney's "Small World".

One of our most enjoyable events was the "Disney Downhill 200" - a vegetable car race - Eighteen teams had to make a race car from a potato, a carrot, 4 wheels, nails and 2 toothpicks. Ian made it so much fun with his zany call of all the crashes and mishaps. I was chosen as one of three judges. He went to us from time to time for comments and decisions if needed. It was quite funny and very involving for the kids. There were "heats" and "semi-finals" and a "final". Pins were awarded for the kid's "flair" ribbons. All the cars had names and "drivers". To quote Ian, "I can't believe I do this for a living." Later, after it was over and pictures were taken, went up and thanked him for making it so special. I told him that I did do that for a living and over my teaching career had several "vegetable races" in our physical science units on momentum and gravity. I took his picture.

We also had lots of fun "baby-sitting" our grandchildren. They came over to our cabin and wanted "stories told" We have done that before. This time we got into the additive story. Each person, including them, had to take the story to the next stopping point. They loved it and requested it at our next session up on the pool deck while mom and dad went to the gym. Stone is quite the creative idea-getter...he can really surprise you with his new ideas for stories. Later, most of the longer concerts or live shows at the W.D.T. he insisted on sitting on Gramma Betty's lap and was usually falling asleep there mid show. We got to know them better and, I think, they us.

There is a "small" piano bar where we found Daryl Lockhart at the keyboards. He is extremely good at what he does. He did a whole set on Ray Charles' music. Sounds alot like him too. His playing is what really makes it so special. We tried to get back to him for another set but it was always too late and we got increasingly more tired. We had to keep changing our clocks each evening; first going back two hours as we went east to the Mexican mainland and the "central time zone", then forward to "pacific time" as we came back. No wonder our body-clocks were confused and tired.

By the fourth or fifth night and all the "Disney-type" entertainment you do get the feeling that it is truly a "small, small world" and very self-contained. One of the biggest money-makers for Disney is all the picture-taking with all the characters. They then display the prints enmass for everyone to see and choose from. Way too tempting for most loving parents and grandparents. We got some very good quality pictures which were specially ordered by Shane as gifts. Very thoughtful. His daughter, Shelby is such a wonderful poser for pictures; young model for sure. Shireen had prepared special magnitized pictures, name-tags, note pads and marking pens for all of us to keep in touch. So thoughtful. They had cruised before on this same ship out of Florida. They actually requested and got the same room. They were in the "Castaway Club" as second-timers with extra perks.

One of the most memorable events was the meeting sharing an evening with one half of the Sherman Brothers. They were "staff song writers/lyicists" for Disney for many years. They won two Oscars for their "Mary Poppins" songs. He shared how he came to compose for "Walt" all the special songs he needed during that time. Yes, they were the original composers of "Small, Small World" and actually saved the attraction when it first debuted at the World's Fair.

As the song goes...(I think)..."though Oceans divide, it is time we decide(?), it's a small after all." What Disney has done with this is amazing; they have used the oceans to bring us together and not divide us. We have so much in common with each other and the world is truly becoming smaller with each amazing trip. Bob

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Cruisin' on "The Magic"

I haven't written here for more than a week because I've been "Cruisin' on "The Disney Magic". What a Ship! What a Crew! It is hard to come back to reality after being treated "like royalty". Yes, the shipboard life agreed with us. Betty and I had a fabulous time from Sat. Aug. 13th until Sat. Aug. 2oth. This is a picture of their "life preservers" strapped to the railings mainly on deck 4. This is where you can walk/jog all the way around the ship. There is another white one near the "adult pool" called "Quiet Cove" that is more for display but functional. I'll try to put it in this blog later. I took 55 pictures before my camera's battery died. I forgot to bring the battery charger. How frustrating was that: having to buy a little "disposable" to finish the cruise.

This was a "Cruise of a Lifetime". We went with my son Trevor's family, our grandchildren, Stone and Layla; his wife Shireen's parents Larry and Peri and her brother's family Shane, Miriam and Shelby. There were eleven of us at one of four different dinning rooms every night for a gourmet dinner with pampered care. Our servers were Vlado from Croatia, Okim from Indonesia and Nursehn from Bulgaria(?). They were atuned to our every need. Yes, there were over 60 different foreign countries represented in the Magic's Crew. And that last night, at dinner, they had quite a production of that fact with "flag vests" and a "It's a Small World" presentation. This is one of the really neat things about the cruise: so many wonderful people to help you from all over the world. The ship's registry is in Nassau for that reason. They can hire from all over the world and pay them their country's rates. If they had been registered in say, Florida, U.S.A. they would have to hire and pay at our rates. The rumor was that our waiters only cash was our "gratuities". Otherwise they get "room and board". They go from restaurant to dinning hall daily/nightly working 12 to 14 hr. shifts. They rarely get a full day off and may not work more than 94 hours a week. It is a "way of life" they must enjoy. They seem happy and very gracious and polite at all times..."the Disney Way". They go to a special school for that.

This was the last "West Coast" cruise this year. It had ports of call at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. The weather was a bit overcast and cool starting out from San Pedro, Ca. but got warmer and more humid as we passed the Tropic of Cancer midway down the Baja. We had two "at sea" days before arriving in the harbor of Puerto V. It was hot, sticky and smelly. We elected to stay on the ship. We were still getting aclimated and we had the pools to ourselves almost. We just didn't have an over-riding urge to "shop and eat" there. The next port was Mazatlan. We decided to go with the "group of eleven" to a "very good" restaurant called "La Puntilla" which was "walking distance" from the docks. It was extremely "tropical" and we just had to get used to being hot and sticky. We had to weave our way through the ususal "shops" and vendors with their "wares" which were of minimal interest to us. The food was great. Betty and I had coconut shrimp. Delicious! I also had a "crab dish" which was good.

I had a beer and asked the strolling mariachis to play for us. Five dollars a song. For some crazy reason, I had to sing with them the songs and words that I knew from my years of teaching so many Hispanic students. I got rather loud, I'm embarrassed to say, but I was having fun...especially after the second beer. The waiters were laughing with/at us/me and put a big sombrero and sarape on me. Pictures were taken. I'll probably be teased now for a long time and it will be called "the Puerta Vallarta Incident" What really gave me a fright was that the plastic chair leg bent and collapsed with me and I went down on my "titanium hip". It didn't really hurt much at the time and I walked the distance back to the ship. But the next morning, when Betty I tried to walk our 6 laps on deck 10, I only made it two. I went down to the Vista Spa and asked for a massage appointment if they had any cancellations. They just happened to have a "well being hour" left. I told them why I wanted the massage ie. about "the incident".
The next day I had three calls from "Guest Services" "A Ship Security Officer" and even our Head Server, Nursehn found out. They wanted to make sure it hadn't happened on the ship with one of their, I wasn't planning on suing them.

I had a wonderful massage. I couldn't have asked for a more ideal one. Imagine: a beautiful "Swedish Masseuse" giving you a "Swedish Massage" and "facial" Wow! Whatever she was selling I was buying. I loved her lilting Swedish accent as she talked of Swedish things/customs that I also know about. We talked about IKEA, Smorgasbords, sayings, traditions that I grew up with, where to travel in Sweden, etc. even her way of saying in Swedish, 7,777 (with an unpronouncible "seu..." that sound like blowing wind). She was so young and sweet and innocent. No wonder I didn't get out of there for less than $200. with all the products she was selling. I wished her well and told her about my wonderful "swedish wife" of 43 years. She was not blond and blue-eyed. She said her mother was Finnish and she had darker hair and eyes. Needless to say, I was completely "cured". Part II will be in the next Blog. Bob

Thursday, August 11, 2005

"Where the Surf Meets the Turf...

...At Del Mar". Ah yes! I hear the refrain even now from the golden voice of ol' Bing Crosby. He has his own Hall there at the Del Mar Race Track and Thoroughbred Club. This gigantic picture is one of four on the ceiling of the lobby at the Hilton Hotel across the street from the track. It has recently been "refurbished" so they advertised. They have a tram that runs about every ten minutes to and from the track for its guests. We took it with our son Brooks. It was the best part of our stay for two nights. It was rather expensive compared to Vegas. I'm sure the rates drop after the annual seven week run of the ponies there. It served our purpose. We hadn't seen our fourth son for almost a year. He lives in Cardiff by the Sea; a small coastal community nearby. As usual he needed art supplies and food. We enjoyed stocking him up and also getting him a cell phone. This way we might hear from him more often.

He does love to gamble and he really enjoyed our time together at the track. He showed us how to bet again. We hadn't been there for many years staying at the same hotel when it first opened. We then had had a winning venture betting by color, jockey and number. We then went back in later years and also to Santa Anita and studied the racing forms. We lost everytime. We learned about "boxing" your "exacta" and that a "quintilla" is actually the same thing. Mostly we tried boxing trifectas. Miserable luck. "The Pick Six and Pick Eight" were long shots soon hopeless. Betty was the big winner when she bet strictly "to show". Her biggest bet "Swedish Cowboy", a favorite, came in 4th, out of the money.

We had to buy alot of their "snacks" dark beer, peanuts etc. It just tastes better there. We forgot our binoculars but they have a very large color tv screen which actually gives a better view of the entire race with changing place numbers at the bottom. Of course, it wouldn't be "the races" without the voice of Trevor Denman's. "And Away they Go!" in his distinctive Aussie twang. We also noticed the cute, little, blond spotter who climbs the tower every race to catch fowls with her binocs. No, she wears slacks. Then there is the familiar trumpet call before each almost sounds recorded but then he comes out and does his own ad lib riff of the same fancy fanfare.

I don't see how anyone ever really wins much at the track. I suppose there are those who almost live there during the session; come every day etc. They even bet "off track" there on other races. Most are televized and they just stand around making notes and studying. Certainly different kind of gamblers than those found in Casinos. We decided we like them better.

The next day we just had to find the Pala Casino. It wasn't that far away, very spacious and not as smoke filled. They had a buffet with more choices than San Manuel's and better food than Morongo's. When I got ahead I learned two new games on "their money" ie. Mini Bacuerac(?) and 4 Card. Lots of fun.
If Horse Racing is the "Sport of Kings" then I'm just a "Knave of Cards" Bob

Saturday, August 06, 2005


I just got my Special Edition of a "computer animation video album". It is fascinating and mesmerizing to watch and listen to. Brett put me on to it. He's been creating and composing music like this for a long time. It is amazing what can now be done with a computer/synthesizer.

There are seven animations, each with a whole host of animated instruments "playing themselves" Kids would love it. The camera angles from which the shots of the intruments playing are extra creative and alway moving also. You have menu choices which allow you to single out a solo intrument and watch it play and also one that shows you how the animators constructed each "machine" from the "ground" up. It shows the original "artist's drawing" which are quite crude when considering the final products. It is in Dolby Digital 5.1 on widescreen format of 16:9...I don't even know what that means.

There is a sneak peak which features the first movement of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" for the sound track. I can hardly wait. This is the kind of "lesson" I would've had in my classroom. Think of the movement, creative writing, art and drama it would've sparked. It would also be calming for right after lunch...with alittle "creative doodling" for free time. Boy, do I miss teaching sometimes. Bob

ethos water

Yet another designer bottled water? Maybe not. This one was just bought by Starbucks to be sold as their "charity effort" "Worldwide" they advertise. They are saying that every bottle you buy at Starbucks (700ml) for $1.50 they will donate 5 cents of it to "Helping children get clean water".

I'll bite. I'm a sucker for children. I bought a bottle. It is just spring water from the "Palomar Mountain Range". No extra electrolytes or goodies. The founder, Peter and Jonathan (no last names) had a neat idea: "sell water to give water where it is needed" Then their best idea was selling it to Starbucks. Now if Starbucks could just use a portion of it in each cup of coffee they sell, then you've got something.

"Ethos" in my dictionary is a noun: "the character of values peculiar to specific person, people, culture or movement." from the Greek meaning "character" So Peter and Jonathan chose well from the marketing point of view. We need to care "that most of the world's population must walk a minimum of three hours to collect water"...and then it may not be potable or drinkable without boiling. Sending them water is admirable but will it actually make it to those who desperately need it.

I showed the bottle to my Kuwaiti friend and his reaction many of these 3rd world countries and villages the "War Lords" and polically powerful won't let the donated water or benefits get to those who need it the most without extra money or trade offs. They say they are already distributing water in Ethiopia, Honduras and India. There is a map on their website that pin-points their efforts. By the end of 2006 they want to contribute over $1,000,000. to support "humanitarian water projects"...Who? and How? I'd like Starbucks to answer that. It is a noble goal. Let's just see how successful it purports to be and by whose measurements. Bob

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Emperors of Endurance

The next time I'm thinking I'm having a "bad day" or a "rough life" I'm going to remember the normal "life cycle" of the Emperor Penguin at the South Pole. We just saw the documentary "March of the Penguins". Now they can truly be called "survivors". It was just an amazing film with spectacular camera shots of the icy landscape. Morgan Freeman's warm, friendly voice narrated the action in this desolate and lonely place.

These are such incredibly fascinating birds. You just sit there spell-bound and in awe of what they accomplish every year in order to mate and have just one little chick. There are so many hazards and things that can go wrong it is just unbelievable that they aren't extinct. In a way they are like the salmon, they have to find their birthplace in order to procreate. It is most likely 70 miles inland where the ice is solid enough to hold them and stay that way through the whole gestation period. They start their march toward that remote local in March or later as the fall sun is fading and winter (our summer) is setting in. They navigate through all kinds of weather and over challenging terrain (avoiding crevasses). Mainly they walk their little waddle but when they are tired they slide on their fat bellies. They take turns leading/getting lost until they find the spot. It is some internal compass influenced by the sun or magnetic pole since the land masses are constantly changing.

Once there, the mating rituals begin and this too is mostly a mystery. How one bird recognizes another is beyond me. They mainly get to know each other's call or squawk and it is used much later again and again to find each other out of a mass of thousands of males first, then females. I'm thinking they are probably also looking for mates with sturdy, egg-supporting feet who are not clumsy and won't drop the egg. They both have to cradle it off the ice for weeks. The females, after laying the egg are the first to leave and walk all the way back literally starving to death if they get lost or don't make it. Once at the ocean again they swim/fly like the birds they are in their native element. I'm thinking that they have to remember where the ice holes are for breathing. They can stay under water for up to 15 mins. at a time and the holes are constantly freezing over. Then there is the constant threat of hungry seals who are happy to see them returning. Some moms don't make it back and the seal has killed her chick too since she would have brought back the rich, regurgitated food for its first full meal. Dad has only some left-over snacks.

Dad too has to be wary of eggs rolling out, and later, chicks being left enough alone to be attacked by hungry sea gulls. (giant ones) They don't seem to do anything to fight them off. Their only real defense on land is to huddle together for warmth. Dad has to make it through the teeth of the winter, almost 4 month without food and endure 100+ mph winds with chill factors in the 100- below zero. They take turns being on the outside of the massed circle, huddled with beaks in and down.

Mom comes back and finds them miraculously and feeds just the chick. Dad then takes off, following the leader to go and feed. His trip over land is not quite as long because the ice is thawing. He then must avoid being "dinner", I would assume sharks too are interested. Fortunately the sea down there is still rich and abundant with krill and small fish which are a rich diet. He then has to come back to feed baby and then you'd think that they would, together, go back to the sea; but no. Baby chicks are left to fend for themselves near the shore. They are not taught how to swim but just seem to do the "think system". Many are quick snacks for awaiting seals. If they survive for the next four years they will then, as a group, suddenly get the urge to do it all again...their life cycle.

In the film you do see chick-less parents wandering around the edge of the group and you do see parent-less chicks who are on their last legs. Freezing to death is supposed to be "painless". They do show a scene of a mother who is trying to steal another mother chick but the group won't let her. There was an article in today's paper about Surrogate-mother Otters living in captivity that have gotten the idea of raising mother-less pups. It is not just the mother's milk/food but, grooming, protecting it etc. Penguins haven't been able to do that yet I guess.
Maybe they wouldn't have been doing this for such a long time because it truly is "Survival of the Fitest". Only a select "few" are fit to be Emperors and Emperesses. Bob