RIP House Widow


On a trip to the laundry room several years ago I discovered a black widow spider. As the only family member licensed to dispatch spiders, her demise was automatic and swift. My husband protected us from snakes, spiders were my responsibility. A practical, unspoken arrangement acted upon without hesitation, quelling arachnid hysteria never bothered me. If a snake ever hissed in the house my husband would do the same. I forgave the one and only house snake in our 35 years, the garter snake he and the kids brought home in a bucket, the one they named Mrs. Slithers when she gave birth to 11 babies the following day, but that’s another story.

Soon after finding laundry room widow, many more disturbed domestic harmony. Upstairs, downstairs, bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms – black widows were becoming a problem. Some had to be executed, but only as a last resort when catch and release failed. Along the way a peculiar affinity developed for well mannered widows. Rogue spiders couldn’t be allowed to roam at will, homesteaders were another matter.

For a while “No, of course I don’t want a black widow bite”, “Yes, I’ll do something about basement widow” sandbagged rising dismay. Relax! Spiders are my job, the situation is under control!

My son broke the news. “You were sleeping…” “We saw an egg sack…” “Sprayed it with Raid…” “Got the vacuum out…” I heard myself say, you killed my spider? Then wished I could take it back because it sounded so crazy. “We can get you a pet spider” he offered with genuine sympathy. “It’s ok, I don’t want a pet spider” was spoken, “I liked that spider” wasn’t.

I couldn’t explain without sounding unbalanced, wouldn’t expect them to understand mild obsession with observing the same spider for almost 2 years. Their spiders are my snakes, I get it. RIP basement widow.

 

Basement Widow Update


Basement widow hasn’t crossed my mind in a while. Paid a visit after work tonight, snapping a hasty cell phone image of her impressive domain.

Research indicates female black widows have a life span of up to three years. My spider is entering her second basement summer. Rest easy, I’ll update her status every few months.

Steveston Sea Lion Stupidity


Anyone who’s seen the program When Animals Attack understand it almost always starts with nincompoops too stupid to grasp imminent danger.Yesterday afternoon the dock at Steveston B.C. catapulted stupid to the stratosphere. Hey, lets feed this wild animal! No wait, lets put this child in its face. Hahaha, it tried to kiss her, lets put our child even closer. NO STUPID! It wants to eat her, she looks like food! Hit play and watch stupid in action –

 

Super Sticky Frog Spit


Ten times softer than a human tongue, elastic frog tongues store energy like a spring. Hapless prey succumb to tongue lashings five times greater than the force of gravity. Ever the perfectionist, nature wasn’t satisfied with soft frog tongues wired to change shape on contact and retraction with lunch. A dose of good measure insisted on super sticky frog spit.

Sticky frog spit alone is a fathomable concept, why wouldn’t evolution coat a frog’s soft spring loaded whip tongue with adhesive spit? Ah, but this is “super” sticky frog spit and nature likes to show off. Ponder this by Alexis Noel of Georgia Tech, lead researcher of a frog spit study published Feb. 1, 2017 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface –

“There are actually three phases. When the tongue first hits the insect, the saliva is almost like water and fills all the bug’s crevices. Then, when the tongue snaps back, the saliva changes and becomes more viscous — thicker than honey, actually — gripping the insect for the ride back. The saliva turns watery again when the insect is sheared off inside the mouth.”

Faster than a blink of the human eye, frog saliva changes viscosity three times. I’d call that super freaking awesome sticky frog spit.

http://earthsky.org/earth/frog-tongue-in-super-slow-motion

Cloud Appreciation Society


In 2004 Gavin Pretor-Pinney of the United Kingdom formed CAS, the Cloud Appreciation Society. The following year Yahoo declared their website “the most weird and wonderful find on the internet for 2005”. As of May 2016, the society claims over 40,000 members representing 165 countries.

“We believe that clouds are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul. Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save money on psychoanalysis bills.” – from the CAS Manifesto, full document at – https://cloudappreciationsociety.org/manifesto/

Membership will set you back around $50 (annual membership plus a one time “sign-up fee”)  Sign-up fee covers postage of the CAS member package – a shiny enameled lapel pin, official certificate stating member will “henceforth seek to persuade all who’ll listen of the wonder and beauty of clouds”, and a handy pocket cloud selector. Members submit cloud wonders via the CAS app. Every morning a “cloud of the day” image is sent to member mailboxes. Member info at – https://cloudappreciationsociety.org/cas-membership-intro/

Below – November “Cloud Of The Month” photographed by James Tromans over Warwickshire, England.

Cloud of the Month - November 2016

Four images above – a selection of daily clouds.

Start Milking Tasmanian Devils


Until this afternoon, if asked to draw or describe a Tasmanian Devil my best guess would have resembled Bugs Bunny’s cartoon nemesis. Animated Saturday morning impressions – enormous mouth, exaggerated teeth, wild eyes, muscular body, large torso and pointy ears.

An image search did little to vanquish childhood assumptions. Other than black not brown, ears pinkishly rounded and tail longer than recollection, Taz appeared much as expected. Moving forward demanded a wiki search.

Who knew Tasmanian Devils were listed as an endangered species in 2008? Or that since the late 90’s drastic population decline was attributed to devil facial tumor disease? Enter a link to Tim Stark at Devil Ark. Located in New South Wales, Australia Devil Ark is a non-profit organization dedicated to preservation of Tasmanian Devils.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil_Ark

For the sake of brevity I’ll get to the point – milk from Tasmanian Devils contain peptides capable of wiping out antibiotic resistant superbugs. Obvious considerations such as how do you milk a devilish marsupial, or why ponder doing so in the first place aside – this is news.

Overuse of antibiotics and hand sanitizing germaphobia are bacterial microbes wet dream. It’s too easy, all they have to do is mutate as we flub about in a cloud of assertive ignorance. Oblivious to hundreds of thousand superbug casualties each year, we wake up every morning convinced humanity is invincible. Along comes Tim Stark, director of a non profit Tasmanian Devil preservation society, a man struggling to save obscure cartoon marsupials from terminal face cancer extinction. A man who milked Tasmanian Devils and stumbled upon a cure for antibiotic resistant bacteria.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/10/18/tasmanian-devil-milk-is-a-new-hope-in-fighting-superbugs/