Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Whats the scariest invertebrate?

Now I know the internet says:
But I say:
The Kissing Bug. It sucks blood from thin-skinned areas, usually around the mouth. It poops on you and transmits a parasite. The parasite makes your mouth and/or eyes swell up. This kid doesn't have the herp, he got bit by an ugly bug that crapped on him. Now you say, so what, you have to tell people that you don't have a venereal disease for a week or two, well, that's not really the worst part. The worst part is that a decade or so down the line, the parasite is still in you and it's doing serious damage to your internal organs. It particularly damages the heart. You get weak and tired. You likely die of a heart attack. All because old stabby-face bit you and crapped on you. I know that claiming this one-inch bug is scarier than a two-foot long sea-beast is a bit abstract. Like, why don't I just say fleas are scary? Or malarial mosquitos? The Black Death and malaria have killed way more people, and more dramatically than Chagas. Well, I choose the kissing bug because I don't like extreme delays, and more directly, I really don't like any of the stabby-faced bugs. That includes you, assassin bug! Uugh.

What's the scariest invertebrate?

To a lot of people, this lobster tail of a marine monster is. Apparently, this is an old chestnut on the internet, but I can't help wanting to share this. My friend Andy sent me a link to a Gawker article about these guys. They're basically pill bugs that live on the sea floor and eat things that fall to the bottom. They're the dust mites in Davy Jones' locker, the Gregor Samsas of the sea, except instead of skin flakes or toenail clippings, they eat dead tunas. I know the internet tends to be a home for the reactionary, but everyone seems to be freaked out by these. I don't really think they're all that terrifying compared to say, giant spider crabsor coconut crabs
or even horseshoe crabs.(It's how sexy they are in this photo that's the scary part. Right??)

I feel this might be an appropriate time to bring up the first internet thing to really get my goat, the... CAMEL SPIDER.

By now, a lot of people know that these are not in fact spiders, but wind scorpions or sun scorpions, depending on where you are. They use their very powerful mandibles to kill small animals like lizards and mice. I won't link to it because it's brutally gross, but there are youtube videos of one of these suckers in a bucket with a mouse. It doesn't end well for the mouse.

Now, a more obscure fact is that in Northern New Mexico, a smaller versions of these guys is known as the Child of the Earth. It's said they scream when you step on them. At least that's what I heard from a co-worker. Now I go to look on the internet, and I see that there's another bug that people call Child of the Earth: the Jerusalem Cricket (google also brought up an image of a sun scorpion, so my co-worker isn't the only one who considers two vastly different bugs to be basically the same thing).I saw one of these on the sidewalk just last night, and I have to say, it was a little freaky.

What can I watch forever?

I posted this a while ago on facebook (thanks Lils!), but check this out (it's a Friskies commercial where the cat goes on a magical journey through a looking glass). It's like the most popular commercial in the world, if you count getting attention at Slate and boingboing as the measure of popularity, which I do. Now play it and listen to this song.

Get Well in Jail - Knaughty Kn...

Someone on the boingboing comment board noted that the lady doing the voice-over sounds a heck of a lot like Kim Deal. It's true!

Monday, March 29, 2010

What did you call me?

My last name's Damm. People have occasionally called me VanDamme, or Jean-Claude, since I was a kid.

Ever since I grew a beard and longish hair, the guys in the kitchen at work have been calling me Chuck Norris.

Now that I can rock a pony-tail, one person at work is calling me

Steven Seagal.

If I get someone to call me Michael Dudikoff, I'll have hit for the cycle.

Update: The kitchen is now calling me Lorenzo Lamas, which is pretty killer. They love Renegade, but are unfamiliar with the Snake Eater movies!

Friday, March 26, 2010

What's the loudest tree in a storm?

"Magnolia's the loudest tree there is in a storm," said Doc. - "The Wide Net", Eudora Welty

I tried to verify this, but the closest I could come was this video on youtube, and I was all, "It's a jay and a crow, this video is stupid," until I saw that the only comment is about how the person who posted the video is dead, which is when I saw that all of murphyturf's other videos are of either a pet rabbit named Cocoa or the B52's, which is when I got a little sad, but then I remembered that when I went to ask reddit about the tree, I saw this photo, at which time I thought, "Yes, I believe I've spent enough time on the internet now."

Are coyote-wolf hybrids the next big thing?

Yes, they just caught a coyote in NYC (I went with Fox News because it combines the most reactionary headline with the cutest man-on-the street quote at the end, plus it has 500% less puns than the Post). That's not really surprising. I kind of expect to see coyotes everywhere. What I'm worried about is idiots finding out about coyote-wolf hybrids.

Anyone who's spent time around any sort of U.S. bumpkins will have heard people claim that their dog is part coyote. Personally, I never believed 'em. (Okay, I only met one guy who claimed this, at a Knight's Inn in Knoxville, but upon repeating the story, I've heard other people who have heard the same claim.) Now, this story mostly blew up last fall, but you may have missed it. Luckily, I think a lot of people did, or else there might have been more sensationalism about the girl who got killed by coyotes in Nova Scotia. I'm not looking forward to the ill-informed bar-conversations that I'm going to overhear when people start realizing that this is a possibility. Look at this article, written with the down-homesy knowledge of a Dwight Shrute. He's probably right about most things, but really mixes things up when he says, "They're wolves, not dogs." You see, they're both technically dogs, but the wolf is the SAME species as the domesticated dog, whereas the coyote isn't.

Here's an example which illustrates why coywolves bother me. One time a ranger told one of my friends that he should stay out of the Santa Fe watershed area because there was a 500 lb. cougar on the loose up there. I know that there has never been a cougar found much above 200 lbs. 500 lbs. is the size of an adult African Lion. Now there are two possibilities for his motivation: A) he wanted to scare someone straight by giving an inflated size to the cat, or B) he just plain believed there was a cougar that big. Both of these might stem from some sort of storytelling need, but sometimes storytelling crosses a little too much into stubborn and willfully ignorant and you get a hybrid more dangerous than a coywolf, but much less adaptable.

Can a dog tear the bumper off of a patrol car?

It turns out the answer is yes. Go to 25 seconds in to watch what I would guess is a 2-year-old pit-mix happily go to town on this black and white. Luckily, the officer inside the hapless vehicle doesn't take the advice of the officer filming it: "Why don't you just run 'im over dude?"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What were those jerk-circuits?

If you're like me, there was a certain line of toy robots from the '80's that captured your heart with their cold robo-claws and sliced it open with their LASERs, and let the one with the flame-thrower arms roast it. These robots weren't like Transformers, with their whiff of humanity. From what I could remember, they were more like slightly less murderous Daleks.

I believe I had the Wrecker toy (which sort of parallels the fact that I only had B.A. from the A-Team, not because they're both black, jerk-circuits, but because they're both the construction and demolition leaders of their teams). What I remember most was the comic book that came with the toy. First, the LASER blasts were the bigger and more numerous than average, with well determined color schemes and really cool muzzle flashes. Second, the comic that came with mine had a weird mad scientist theme of one of the bad robots trying to hack into the genius good robot (S.O.T.A., the aforementioned jerk-circuits). Little four-year-old me had a strange time staring at that comic and trying to get my head around the really weird, sterile, sadistic, and futuristic universe these characters inhabited. In contrast, the only thing I found strange about Autobots was that you could get inside of them.

I'm pretty sure that the picture above comes out of a choose-your own adventure book. I can't find anything on the Robo Force comics other than that you can buy them included with the robots on e-bay. I wonder whether they're really as demented as I remember them, or more childish, like the panel above? One thing is for sure: good guys being turned bad or at least brainwashed was definitely a theme of '80s toys and cartoons.

Here's a short list...

GI Joe episodes (there are quite a few, but here's a couple): Operation Mind Menace, The Synthoid Conspiracy, and the one that messed up my dreams for a long time, There's No Place like Springfield pts. 1 and 2. That's just season one.

He-Man: I recall a cauldron filled with goo that could turn good guys bad.

Thundercats: Dream Master, The Doom-Gaze, Dimension Doom, Mumm-Rana, Fond Memories, and in the movie Lion-O gets mummified, which makes another character think he's evil.

And umm... Captain Planet?? I wonder if today's cartoons like Avatar: The Last Airbender, or Bionicle have as much good vs. evil content. Anyway I think I still like Robo Force because whether they were "good" or "evil", they were all metal all the time. Except for the jerk-circuit boards of course.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wherefore the white deer?

I took the photo of the piebald deer last year on Orcas Island. I've been wondering (off and on) ever since just how so many of the deer on the island were partially white. According to this little US Geological Survey site (written by Matthew Perry *chuckle*), the white comes from a recessive gene and usually becomes expressed when herds become overpopulated. I'd rephrase that to say when deer rarely die, because that's probably what's going on on Orcas Island and specifically the aptly named Doe Bay . I don't know what would kill a deer on that island besides a car, or maybe if it was swimming, an orca.

So that's pretty much what this blog is going to be about. I have a question about something I see, hear, read, or I guess, feel (like if I have questions about getting punched in the face or something), and then I'll give a short little answer, probably with a link or two.