Category Archives: The world around us

A Post Where Jenny Responds to Spam

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It’s been a long weekend for me.  I did a lot of reading and a lot of writing for work related reasons.  Having just finished my final two page critique of a book, I am ready for a break.  Nothing helps me relax quite like reading my spam folder.  If you remember, the last spam item I presented was about bed wetting.  Today, I’m going to toss out a few of my favorite recent spam comments for your enjoyment:

Regarding my Drunk History post:  “This is really interesting, You are an excessively professional blogger. I look forward to in quest of extra of your fantastic post.”

My response:  Thank you Frankston Pool Cleaners, for you keen interest in my blog.  I can’t see how drunk history directly relates to pools, but I appreciate your vote of confidence when it comes to my professionalism.  Good luck in your quest of extra fantastic.

Regarding Rocky Mountain Oysters: “I reckon something really interesting about your blog so I saved to favorites.”

My response:  Thank you Nosejobs.uk.  I reckon almost everyone finds rocky mountain oysters interesting.  If you are trying to get me interested in a nose job by flaunting compliments on my blog, I reckon you’re barking up the wrong tree.  I saved your comment to favorites.

Regarding Woodpecker Eyes, the Hawful Truth: “I feel this is one of the such a lot important information for me. And i’m happy reading your article. However want to remark on some general things, The website style is ideal, the articles is really nice : D. Just right process, cheers”

My response:  Dear Therapist over the Phone website, I feel you are one of the such a lot of important therapy options out there.  I don’t need a phone therapist, nor do I know anyone who would trust a therapist they have to call on the phone on a 1-900 number. I kindly thank you for your compliment.  Ideal website styles are very hard to come by.  I do think I have found just the right process.  If you’re interested in a nose job, I have some contact information for you.

Regarding Spam is a State of Mind:  “Some great stuff at this site, efficiently shown and spot on the money.”

My response:  Why thank you, Sneaky Poo Toddlers.  I’ve always thought toddlers were sneaky.  I’m glad you have created an organization proclaiming this.  As you are presumably still children, you probably don’t know that ‘spot on the money’ is not quite how the saying goes.  But, I like it.  Carry on.

Regarding the entire blog: “A formidable share, I simply given this onto a colleague who was doing a bit analysis on this. And he in reality bought me breakfast because I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the deal with! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to debate this, I feel strongly about it and love studying more on this topic. If attainable, as you develop into experience, would you thoughts updating your blog with extra details? It is extremely useful for me. Massive thumb up for this blog publish!”

My response:  Dear Dog Harness, in reality, I’m so delighted that your colleague bought you breakfast.  That you were hungry, what’s the deal with!  It is my pleasure to debate ‘this’, by which I can only assume you mean, ‘every topic I cover in my blog’.  I agree strongly that you should love studying more on this topic.  I hope to attain experience, as you mention, and will do my best to update my blog with extra details.  Honestly, I can’t imagine why my blog would be extremely useful for anyone.  So let me reword that:  Thanks for support the.

Spam Is A State Of Mind

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WordPress has a handy spam filter.  It somehow knows when comments are from real people, and when they’re from websites, or scammers.  I don’t know how it does this, but I appreciate it.  Today, however, I’m going to delve into my spam folder and pull out a comment in the spirit of “There are no stupid questions.”

Several weeks ago, I received a comment from a bed wetting website in regards to my post about leaf blowers.  I didn’t see the connection, and apparently, neither did WordPress.

“What problems (if any) do former bedwetters have as adults, as a result of their bedwetting as children?”

I will not name this website for several reasons.

1. I don’t want to give free advertisement to an internet parasite.
2. I don’t think it’s a very good site.  I went to it, to check it out.

However, I will answer the question, since there is an infinitesimally small chance that it was sent by a real person, who works for the bedwetting website, and who is honestly asking me, an expert on many things,* for my opinion.  In fact, I did wet the bed as a kid, so I have first hand knowledge of problems that former bed wetters have as adults.

Us former bed wetters get really sensitive about spam regarding our former bed wetting.  That’s probably the biggest problem we have.  The second biggest is that sometimes we still have dreams where we’re sitting on a toilet, peeing.  These were the dreams that really nailed us early in life.  We used to sleep right through them.

Other than that, I think I’m a pretty well adjusted individual.

I would like to have a conversation with the person in charge of sending out stupid spam questions at the bed wetting website.  I’d like to know if this kind of stunt works.  Who sees a comment in their spam folder and then thinks “You know, I should visit that site because they’re asking incredibly thoughtful questions.”  No one.  If you’re trying to get people to visit your bed wetting website, you don’t ask them what problems bed wetters have!  I could have written a dozen spam questions that would have drummed up more business.

1.  Tired of waking up in pools of your own urine?  Yeah.  You should be.  Why not take care of your pesky problem NOW.

2.  Scared stiff of sleepovers?  No one likes the idea of accidentally peeing on their boyfriend, we can help!

3.  Dreaming of toilets?  Flush that!

4.  Are you a bed wetter?  It’s probably because of a witch.  We know Wiccan.  We know the cure!

5.  It’s not your fault.  Nothing is your fault.  You’re perfect.  Except for when you’re covered in urine.

6.  Are diapers starting to chafe?  Get a life.

I know what you’re all thinking.  I have a future in advertisement.  I’ve thought about it.  I really have.  But, it wouldn’t be fair to all of those weak minded people who are drawn in by fantastic pitches.  I don’t want to interfere with the economy^.

 

* my tongue is in my cheek
^ I really don’t want to mess with the economy.

Are You a Slacker Rat?

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A recent article in the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology has interesting implications for us coffee drinkers.  A study lead by Jay Hosking of the University of British Columbia (abstract) cleverly separated worker rats from slacker rats using a novel, effort based reward system.  For rats willing to put in the extra effort, which involved paying closer attention to a flashing light, the sugar pellet reward was doubled.  For slacker rats, who were happy doing the bare minimum, a single sugar pellet was given.

Slacker rats are the equivalent to those doofs in your office who check Facebook every three minutes, take fifteen minute bathroom breaks, and disappear on ‘errands’ for two hours in the mid afternoon.  We all know they’re napping in their car, or in the case of one of my ex-coworkers, napping on the smooth tiles of the second floor bathroom.  Yeah.  It happened.

Worker rats, well..these are the equivalent of go-getters, busy bodies, people willing to put in extra effort for the potential of a promotion, or other big pay off.

The study found that worker rats and slacker rats reacted differently when given caffeine and amphetamines.  I don’t know how many of you are popping amphetamines, but I’m guessing most of you are chugging your morning coffee.  The study showed that caffeine stimulated both kinds of rats.  It increased their motor impulsivity (a fancy phrase for ‘made them jumpy’), but interestingly, caffeine did NOT help worker rats work harder.  In fact, it turned them into slackers.  It didn’t help slacker rats work harder either, but since they’re already lazy, there was no change in their behavior.

Caffeine made worker rats slackers!  So, if you consider yourself a worker rat, you might want to cut back on the coffee chugging..unless you’ve read the study headed by Gary Arendash, claiming that caffeine “Reverses Cognitive Impairment in Aged Alzheimer’s Disease Mice“-in which case…you might need to kick up your consumption to 6 cups a day.

The take away here, at least as far as I’m concerned, is that it is important to pay attention to how you feel.  The slacker rat study proves that not all of us react in the same way to stimulants.  For some of us they help us focus, work harder, and feel better.  For others, they may be bad habits, dragging us down.  I consider myself a worker rat.  I’m drinking coffee as I write this, because I drink coffee every morning-but maybe tomorrow…maybe, I’ll try water.

The Mystery of The Singleton Sock

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Sometimes, before bed, Nathan and I like to solve a mystery, or at least…try to solve one.

A couple of weeks after we moved into our house, I was doing laundry.  The load was mostly Nathan’s work clothing, so imagine my surprise when a dainty women’s sock appeared, statically clinging to the arm of his button up shirt.  It wasn’t my sock.  I don’t own any socks that dainty.  I thought about it for a long time.  Where had it come from?  I had done almost twenty loads of laundry before that load, so it couldn’t have been left over from a previous tenant.  How had Nathan picked up a women’s sock?  Had he put it in his pocket?  That would be weird, but I wouldn’t put it past him.  It was the perfect opportunity to have a little fun with him.

That evening, when his car pulled into our driveway, I grabbed the sock and stood in front of the door.  He walked in to find me pinching a strange woman’s sock in an outstretched hand.  I gave him just long enough to recognize it as a sock, then I demanded, “Who is she?”  The look on his face was priceless.  Big eyes, innocent shock, then panic.  Panic because he had no idea whether I was crazy enough to be serious.  I couldn’t hold a straight face for long.

We both had a good laugh.  That night, before bed, we got down to the business of solving the mystery of the singleton sock.  We figured it out, but I can’t tell you.  I would ruin the exhilaration of discovery for everyone else.  There is a place that singletons go.  When you lose socks, and can’t figure out how the members of your family could possibly have twelve singles..well, they go somewhere.  And we figured out where.  The amazing thing…is that sometimes they come back.  They wait for like..four to a hundred months.  Then, when you least expect it, they show up.

Last night, we attacked another question before bed.  I had heard that if you listen to a cricket for fifteen seconds and count its chirps, then add that number to 37, you get the approximate temperature.  Nathan thought that adding the number 37 didn’t’ sound approximate at all, but I assured him that my internet source was sound.  (some guy writing ‘fun facts’ about crickets)

To test the validity of this claim, Nathan made me count to fifteen very slowly while he chirped as fast as he could.  It was fast.  But in fifteen seconds, he could only chirp forty three times.  I’ll do the math.  That means, any temperature over 80 degrees is impossible for a cricket to predict.  I’m not an entomologist, so I don’t know if crickets even hang around outside if it’s that warm.  That could be part of the problem.

Anyway, the cricket mystery, we couldn’t’ crack.  There were no cricket chirps to count.  So, if one of you has time, and has crickets, please get back to me.

Also, if you need help solving a mystery, let us know.  We’re pretty good at it.  Ever meet anyone else who knew where socks go?

I didn’t think so.

 

Woodpecker Eyes, The Haw-ful Truth

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I had a good friend tell me over a game of bingo last night, that if woodpeckers don’t close their eyes when they crack their beaks against a tree, their eyeballs pop out, from the force of the impact.  Yes, I went to a bar and played bingo.  To be clear, ‘good friend’ is not a euphemism for the ninety year old man sitting next to me, nor is ‘bar’ a euphemism for retirement home.  Back to the birds-I don’t know about you, but I thought the image was reminiscent of a Woody the Woodpecker reel.  I had to investigate.

I learned of the nictitating membrane, aka the haw.  A quick dictionary.com visit revealed that the word nictitate means to wink.  Maybe some of you knew this already.  If so, why haven’t you mentioned it?

Woodpeckers, like many other creatures (beavers, manatees, sharks, polar bears, lemurs, dogs..to name a few) have a nictitating membrane-a third eyelid that moves horizontally across the eye, to protect it.  The claim that this membrane prevents woodpecker eyes from popping out of their heads…well, that I found no evidence to support.  Granted, I don’t have more than a google toolbar at my disposal, so my research isn’t top notch work.

What I did discover, was that the woodpecker is a hot topic in the evolution vs. creationism argument.  I can’t tell you how many forums exist out there-where totally uninformed individuals (on both sides) call each other names, insult each other’s mothers, and insinuate each other’s reproductive habits with other members of the animal kingdom, while arguing whether the woodpecker could have ever evolved.  Creationists think they’re too complicated.  I haven’t yet mentioned the woodpecker tongue, which is pretty amazing.  Instead of being a muscular organ, like it is in humans, it is supported by a bone and cartilage structure, that has its anchors deep within the skull.  Cool!  Also, the woodpecker’s brain is small, and very carefully situated, to minimize damage from the jarring of the peckity peck peck.

But-back to the eyeball issue.  The woodpecker’s nictitating membrane does protect its eyes. It protects them from flying debris, and from the potential for retinal damage from the jarring of the peckity peck peck.  Have you noticed that I like the sound of “jarring of the peckity peck peck”?  I really do.

The haw protects polar bears from snow blindness.  In sea lions, it helps remove sand and other beach debris.  In hawks, it protects the parents’ eyes from the beaks of their young while they feed them.  In humans, the vestigial haw can be found in the corner of your eyeball, (that little red triangle of flesh).

I’d like to make clear, this post is not meant to argue one way or the other..evolution or creation.  I personally don’t see why both can’t be true.  Natural selection and creation.  We’re all entitled to our own beliefs and opinions.  I’m not going to insult anyone’s mother to prove a point.

If you have a research paper, written by an actual scientist, from an accredited organization or university, that gives evidence of woodpecker eyes popping out, I would love to read it.  Who knows, maybe it exists.  Nictitate, Nictitate.

Bologna Incites Irrational Anger

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First, we should get my love of bologna out of the way.  I’m not kidding around.  I love it.  I know its probably made of pig hooves and intestines, chicken beaks and the weird skin on chicken feet, but I love the stuff.  It’s salty, and it fits on top of a bagel slathered with cream cheese perfectly.  I have always loved it.  As a kid, my mother made fried bologna sandwiches for my father, who obviously had highly developed taste buds.  My exposure to the smell of bologna, crisping it its own fatty juices, cultivated in me a deeply rooted affection for what I like to call, highly sophisticated spam.   Spam is the dregs.  I’m not referring to internet junk mail, people.  I’m referring to that canned, pink, gelatinous, fake-meat cube.  I just visited their website, and their homepage says ‘The Glorious Spam Tower’.  I don’t even know what that means.

Bologna doesn’t need a website.  It’s internationally famous already.

I’m getting off track here.  The real purpose of this post was to recount a very strange, and slightly disturbing incident that occurred at my local supermarket about a week ago.  It began at the deli counter.  The woman who offered to help me had the personality of tree bark.  She very clearly hated cutting meat and cheese for strangers.  I imagine the silly hairnet she was wearing added insult to injury.  I tried being very nice.  I smiled.  I said my pleases and thank yous, and I didn’t make direct eye contact with the hairnet.  Nothing improved her mood.

I ordered bologna.  In addition to loving bologna, I am also very conscious of how bad it is for me.  I only order very thin slices of it.  My bologna has to be paper-thin.  Otherwise, two slices would fill my entire daily caloric needs.  I ordered very thinly sliced bologna.  The woman came back to me after she had cut a sample piece, to show me, and ask if it was thin enough.  Courtesy meat check.  I appreciated it, and took a close look.  It was perfectly sliced, and I said so.  In hind sight, she may have taken my careful examination as an affront-like I didn’t trust her to do it right, so had to come in like a bologna overlord and verify her work.

She filled my order, (half a pound), and handed me the bag.  Her face contorted into a weird grimace-pucker as I took it from her.  It gave me the willies, so I walked away quickly to find Nathan.  While I stood behind him, waiting for him to choose which six pack of beer he wanted, I looked down at my prized bologna.  Something was wrong.

I accidentally screamed, “What!?”

Nathan turned, a look of alarm on his face.  “What’s the matter?”

“That crone cut my bologna into slabs.  I can’t eat these.  They’re practically as thick as bagels themselves.  This was sabotage!  She did it on purpose!”

Nathan went back to choosing his beer.

What happened next is what I feel must be discussed.   I became irrationally angry.  I hated the crazy witch who  had tricked me with her courtesy meat check.  I wanted to throw my slices of bologna all over the window of her stupid meat display case.  I wanted to run through the aisles screaming, tossing slabs of bologna like frisbees at the faces of supermarket employees.*  I was irate.  I had a bag full of useless bologna.  This state of barely controlled fury lasted for about two minutes.  I couldn’t talk about it, I couldn’t think about anything else.

Finally, as Nathan and I stood in the check-out line, I collected myself.  I took stock of the situation.  I had dreadfully thick slices of bologna.  I love bologna.  The situation wasn’t really that bad.  But…what had happened to me?  Why had I gone off the handle?  Who really cares about the thickness of their lunch meat?  (Well..I do, but maybe I shouldn’t)

Not six months ago, I sat in a Cambodian restaurant and ordered from a menu I couldn’t read.  An entire chicken carcass arrived on a plate twenty five minutes later.  Really.  The glazed bluish chicken eyes stared up at me.  The beak had been chopped off and stuck into the thigh meat.  The feet were a bumpy yellowish brown, with dirty claws attached.  I ate that meal.  Happily.  The difference was expectation.  I didn’t have any when I ordered from the Cambodian menu.  I was thankful for what I got.

So-the lesson here, which I am slightly embarrassed to have demonstrated-is that sometimes we forget a very important fact.  Many of our choices are luxuries.  The next time you find yourself frustrated about something not going your way-in the deli, or elsewhere, try to remember that.  Don’t pretend you don’t get irrationally angry either.  I know you do.  It’s human to have expectations, and be disappointed when things don’t play out.  However, too many expectations can make us forget how lucky we are to have anything at all.

*The author does not condone chucking slabs of processed meat at people.

How To Defend Against Jumping Spider Attacks*

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Breaking news.  Japanese researchers have discovered that jumping spiders have a layer of green-sensitive pigment in their eyes.  What does this mean?  It means that these spiders use a unique tool called image defocus to gauge the distance from themselves to objects they plan to attack (you*).  They use green light to do this.  The researchers, headed by a man named Takashi Nagata, discovered that in red light, the spiders misjudged the distance between themselves and their prey, falling short.  I’m thrilled to learn that someone is spending time on this project.  I dislike spiders immensely, and I cannot think of a better way to spend thousands of dollars.  Someone needs to know how to defend the human race against these hideous creatures.  Hairy, jumping spiders are gathering strength-waiting-watching.

So, if you wish to avoid jumping spiders, you must simply shroud yourself in red-light.*

I’ve been obsessed with nature news recently.  Nathan’s sperm whale book-report really got to me.  Last night we watched part two of the Frozen Planet series (which I would highly recommend).  In it, there was a brief mention of the narwhal.  I had heard of narwhals before, but for some reason they hadn’t impressed me.  What?!

Narwhals are whales with a nine foot tusk sticking from their fourteen foot bodies.  Unicorns of the sea.  The tusk isn’t really a tusk.  It’s an incisor tooth that protrudes from the upper left side of their jaw.  A giant tooth.  Narwhal researchers have been slightly less successful than jumping spider researchers.  They still don’t really know what the tooth is for.  It might be the narwhal equivalent of a letter jacket*-a demonstration of masculinity for the ladies.  I can’t imagine why lady narwhals would care about a giant tooth, but they must.  The tooth isn’t thought to be useful in hunting, cracking ice, or swimming.  The best guess for this awkward horn used to be that it helped to establish a narwhal hierarchy.

But recently, a dentist joined the ranks.  You know research is getting serious when a dentist gets involved.  Apparently, the tooth has very unique properties.  It contains nerves that make their way all the way to the surface.  For humans, exposed nerves are incredibly uncomfortable, especially in cold.  Narwhals swim in the Arctic with exposed nerves in their giant tooth, so I am left to conclude that they are much tougher than humans.  The new theory is that these nerves might be sensitive enough to detect minute differences in water salinity.  Sensitive enough to detect melting ice up to three miles away.

We land mammals need to step up our game.  My teeth are tiny, enamel covered, sissy pearls and my nostrils are simply nostrils.  Sperm whale nostrils have evolved into a blow hole and a set of phonic lips and narwhals have a massive, hyper-sensitive, incisor sticking from their foreheads – I haven’t even started examining the other 39 species of whale.

*The claims that jumping spiders want to attack you, or that you are protected from anything (at all) if shrouded in red light, are not meant to be a factual statements.  Also, letter jackets are not considered (by the author) to be a sign of masculinity.