Sunday, April 23, 2017

Shrimp gets named after Pink Floyd. Seriously.

Researchers recently discovered a new species of pistol shrimp (motto: "Pistols don't kill people, shrimp don't either, unless you're allergic.") It has a bright pink claw which it can click so loudly the noise can kill nearby fish. Scientists have dubbed it Synalpheus pinkfloydi, a nod to a rumor that Pink Floyd once played so loudly in concert they killed fish in a nearby pond. I caught up with the pink critter this week for an interview.

GW: Welcome. May I just call you Floyd?

Floyd: Sure, why not. HEYYY, who knew I could talk?

GW: You were big science news this week. You would think scientists had never seen a shrimp with a neon pink killer claw before. 

Floyd: It never ceases to amaze me what impresses people. 

GW: They say you can click that sucker so hard it hits 210 decibels. A jet engine is only 140. 

Floyd: What is a jet engine?

GW: Well, that's going to be hard to explain. Let's just say it's very loud.

Floyd: Does a jet engine also kill passersby with the manly clack of its claw?

GW: No. 

Floyd: Does a jet engine at least eat passersby?

GW: No. 

Floyd: A jet engine sounds like a wuss. I could take a jet engine. 

GW: Moving on, does the blazing color of your claw serve some purpose? 

Floyd: You're asking me?

GW: Yes.

Floyd: I didn't have a say. I didn't ask for flamingo-paw. I am playing the cards I was dealt.

GW: Why do you suppose nature gave you a flaming claw with which to stun fish?

Floyd: Why did nature give you freckles and a forehead the size of a dinner plate? Nature rolls the dice. Sometimes you get "hard leathery shell, lifespan of a century." Sometimes you get "rockin' pink nutcracker, delicious with cocktail sauce."

GW: I was reading about your cousin, the mantis shrimp.

Floyd: That guy. He can punch through the shells of his prey with the acceleration of a .22 bullet. Trust me, you don't want to high-five him.

GW: Nature is amazing. 

Floyd: Nature should make it easier to find lunch. 

GW: So what is next for Floyd?

Floyd: I am looking into politics.

GW: 

Floyd: Local stuff at first. Law and order. 

GW: What's the angle?

Floyd: "Fear the claw." That kind of thing.

GW: I can see it.


Floyd: All in all, it's just another brick in the wall. 



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Eat first!



 I no longer believe in translations.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Steps will be taken...but will they be counted?

It began, as so many obsessions do, with a freebie. My wife's health care provider sent her a tiny clip-on step-counter. It is an oval, dark and smooth, like a river stone but more naggy. You set a goal for the number of steps you want to walk each day, and the pebble holds you accountable. If you check it first thing in the morning, you are met with a little pixelated disappointed face sticking out its tongue at you for only having walked 22 steps into the kitchen to turn on the coffee maker. You would think they could have programmed a motivational morning face. You do not know who you are dealing with.

Apparently the counter resets at midnight, because this morning it showed she had already burned 316 calories in her sleep. She still got the stink-eye from the pebble. Maybe there is a way to change the time zone, to game the system so it thinks she is basically running a 5K in her sleep. If it can be done, people have thought of it. I'll google it, I say. That would be cheating, she says. Who's gonna know? I say. Blue Shield, she says, and shudders a little.

Jen does not have, by nature, an addictive personality, although there was that time that she played Tetris on the Game Boy for eight solid hours until her fingers began cramping uncontrollably. All so she could complete the final level and watch the tiny virtual space shuttle blast off in victory. Or the entire summer she spent endlessly answering questions on Yahoo in a gambit to be voted "best answer" on a wide number of topics and to be rated, by Yahoo, a top answerer. But it's not like she's tried crack.

Suddenly it's all about the numbers, though. "I need more steps" she will say as she breezes in after work, as if she forgot to check the "step" aisle on her last visit to Trader Joe's. "I'm only at 6,000. I'm going to take Skipper a few extra blocks." Our dog is the unwitting beneficiary of the pebble. He will be gifted more sign posts to sniff, more deadly chicken bones to ferret out of lawns, more dogs to inadvisably challenge. Bliss.

I am just thankful this obsession is not something unpleasant, involving me and kale. You know what they say—a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But without a pebble they don't count.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Valveless hog oiler



 There was a time I would not have believed the job could be done without valves. I stand corrected.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

"Cats not as aloof as commonly thought, study suggests"


A study out of Oregon State University this week reported that cats prefer people to food, pleasant scents and toys, a result which took dog lovers, indeed all humans, by surprise. I am fortunate to have one of the cats from the study, Precious, here with me today.

George: Welcome, Precious.

Precious: The girl named me Precious. Call me Duke. 

George: You're awfully fluffy for a Duke.

Duke: Remind me again how many lives humans have.

George: One.

Duke: Think carefully about how long you want yours to last. 

George: So Duke, this experiment offered cats a person, a bowl of food, a nice scent and a toy, and most of you chose to hang with the human. Um, are you batting at my ear buds?

Duke: No, I was just...checking...whether they were Android.

George: iPhone. 

Duke: Good to know.

George: So...

Duke. The study, yeah. Well, you have to understand, the people who we went for instead of food or toys were waving a feather. It wasn't just some dude in a bean bag chair sticking out a finger.

George: A feather is kind of cheating.

Duke: It kind of is. 

George: Was the food good?

Duke: Yeah, it was O.K. Some chicken thing. And the toys were cute. A jingly metal ball on a string, a little squeaky kangaroo. The scent was mouse or something. 

George: But the feather.

Duke: The feather was like prey. Irresistible. To be honest, I never even saw the people's faces.

George: It was a close contest, I hear. Food was a close second. 

Duke: They hadn't fed us in a few hours so that we'd be hungry.

George: But the feather.

Duke: That feather! I barely even saw the hand waving it. So the results should really say cats prefer a waving, flitting, sexy tease of a feather to food or toys.

George: You are reliving it right now, aren't you?

Duke: I'm going to need a minute. 

George: The study makes it sound like cats are not the aloof creatures we tend to think.

Duke: Yeah, but did you read the whole thing? Some of us didn't even complete the test. We lost interest. 

George: You really going to lick that whole leg?

Duke: Well, it's not gonna lick itself. 

George: Last question. Do you like people?

Duke: I like people who scratch my ears and then get on with their lives.

George: There ya go, buddy.

Duke: Ahhhh, that's nice. Hey, you got a feather?


. . .