Friday, May 31, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #75: Biological Warfare in History

Brandy from Brandy’s Bustlings wanted me to write about the history of the word “yellow” as an insult, but I couldn’t find anything on that just by typing “why is the word yellow used as an insult” into Google, and it’s been a long day and I’m tired, so maybe I’ll just bounce that back to her. I usually like to have more than one fact in my Fun Friday Facts, anyway.

Instead, I’m going with another topic inspired by a comment I received last week. Facebook friend and fellow blogger Darla Dollman pointed out that, in 1346, the Mongolian army employed biological warfare when they used plague cadavers to contaminate the enemy’s water supply during the siege of Caffa. I also recall seeing something on The History Channel recently about people in Biblical times filling up clay pots with live bees and lobbing them at people during battle. They didn’t explain exactly how the ancient people got the bees into the pots and kept them there long enough to seal the things up, so I’m skeptical.

I mean, bee wrangling normally requires special suits and everything.

Perhaps the earliest recorded use of biological warfare dates back to the 14th century BC, when armies fighting in Anatolia deliberately brought tularemia to the enemy’s doorstep, but also probably brought it home with them when the battle was over. The epidemic had already touched much of the Mediterranean world, from Cyprus to Iraq and from Palestine to Syria, excepting Egypt, which quarantined itself.

Smart thinking, Egypt.

Poison was a popular agent of biological warfare in the ancient world. In 590 BC, Athenian and Amphictyonic League soldiers fighting the First Sacred War against the city of Kirrha used hellebore to poison the enemy’s water supply. In the 5th century BC, Scythian warriors used a putrefied mixture of blood, dung and snake’s venom to poison their arrowheads. Alexander the Great’s army fell victim to biological warfare in India, when the enemy used the venom of Russell’s viper to poison their arrowheads.

In 184 BC, Hannibal of Carthage, of Alps-crossing fame, fought King Eumenes of Pergamon by having clay pots filled with venomous snakes chucked at his battleships. Again, no word on how they got the snakes into the pots. In 198 AD, the city of Hatra, in present-day Iraq, fought off the Roman army by pitching clay pots filled with scorpions at them.

"Fuck this noise, let's go back to Rome."

Throughout the Middle Ages, the tossing of dead bodies, both human and animal, plague-ridden and non, into besieged communities was considered an effective form of biological warfare. It was believed that the very reek of decomposing corpses was enough to kill those within the besieged city's walls. The strategy was employed during the siege of Thun-l’Évêque, in 1340, when besiegers flung dead animals into the city. It was used again in 1422 in Bohemia, when besiegers of the Karlstein Castle catapulted dead bodies over the castle walls. For good measure, they also tossed 2,000 carriage loads of dung.

It's raining shit!

Image credit: Dorai Raj L.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Some of My Pet Peeves Include…

People who talk about “believing” in things that exist.

Actually, it’s more often people who talk about not believing in things that exist. Like, “I don’t believe in condoms” or “I don’t believe in cat declawing” or “I don’t believe in circumcision.” That’s not even to get into a discussion of whether or not I support the use of these things (yes, no, undecided). Call me a linguistics snob, but whenever someone says “I don’t believe in [thing that exists],” I think to myself, What’s not to believe in, it exists. Sometimes I even say it, too, which is why I don’t have many friends.

People who call women “females.”

Do they call men “males”? I don’t know, because I’ve never spent time with any of these morons. I’ve heard of them, though, and just knowing they exist annoys me.

People who drive really fast on dirt roads.

It's always dudes who barrel down dirt roads at 30 or 40 miles per hour (which, if you're not in the know, is easily twice as fast as you need to drive on a one-lane, unpaved thoroughfare) because "it's so much fun." They may be perfectly cautious, responsible drivers on paved surfaces, but put them on a dirt road and all bets are off. It's a public byway, not your personal go-cart track. I'm sure it'll be lots of fun when you career around a blind turn and slam into somebody's huge truck.

People who say the color pink is for little girls.

Motherfucker, the color pink is for whoever fucking likes their shit to be pink, that’s what. I painted one of the rooms in my house pink, and my aunts teased me about it because I’m “too old for pink.” I’m a grown-ass woman and if I want a pink room, I’ll have one.

Idiotic labels on food.

Most food labels are useful, but some food labels are just as dumb as the instructions on a box of toothpicks (“Discard toothpick after use. Do not swallow.”). The other day I bought a can of peaches, and on the can was a label that said, “FAT FREE!” Of course they’re fat free, they’re peaches.

"Fatty Peaches" would make a good band name, though, IMO.

Money-saving advice columns that tell me to make my own coffee at home.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like every money-saving article on the Internet includes this nugget of wisdom:

“Save loads of money by making your own morning coffee at home, instead of spending five dollars a day at Starbucks!”

Well damn, that never would’ve crossed my mind on its own. These articles also include tidbits like “Cut back on your restaurant dining!” or “Combine trips to save gas!” No one facing penury hasn’t thought of these things, guys. Try harder.

Articles about all the things one should know/have/be/do by a specific age, usually 30.

These articles amount to a collection of the author’s prejudices. They say things like “You should stop calling your parents Mommy and Daddy” or “You should own your own home” or “You should wear an ankle-length flannel nightgown and only have sex in the dark, through a hole in the sheet.” You never see an article called “50 Things You Should Have by Age 50” because no self-respecting 50-year-old would read that crap.

None of the ones I know would, anyway.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Get Your Cat Fix on Listosaur Today

As some of you are aware, I also write for other websites from time to time. I don't usually ask my faithful readers to hop to other sites to read something I've written elswhere, but this time, I'm will, because a) it gives me something to post here today, and b) cats, cats, cats!

This piece, "9 Strange but True Cat Tales" at, fits in well with the themes I explore here at Don't Call Me Marge, which include cats. Hop on over to Listosaur to read about a cat who became a war hero, a cat who serves as mayor, a cat who lived to be older than I am, a cat who has way more Twitter followers than I ever will, and even a cat who glows in the dark!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

And the Winner of the Half-Box of Brillo Pads Is…

I know at least some of you have been waiting with bated breath for the results of this drawing that I announced would take place over two weeks ago, but which hasn’t yet because I’ve been pretty busy with stuff and things. That is, I know for certain at least two of you have been looking forward to it, because you’ve said as much.

Most of the people who commented on that post appear to have done so only to tell me how much they hate Brillo pads. I’m not sure if that means they want to be included in the contest or not. I mean, some of the commenters specifically said they did not want to be included, because they hate Brillo pads, but others didn’t mention anything about wanting to be excluded. I’d say that means they want to be included, because I did say comment below to join, but then their comments were all like “I hate Brillo pads because one attacked me when I was little” and “I hate Brillo pads because they’re clearly time-traveling here from 1954,” or “I hate Brillo pads because they’re coated in baby souls” (I assume that means “the souls of babies”). I found that kind of confusing, but I guess if you don’t want the Brillo pads, you can just say so and I can hold another drawing, because I certainly don’t want to force anyone to take a prize they don’t want.


So I guess the normal thing to do would be to make a video of the drawing itself, so that everyone can see it isn’t rigged. I’m not doing that because I don’t even like having my photo taken, much less a video. I have a sexy baby voice through no fault of my own, and hearing it recorded freaks me out. Plus, I worry that if you guys knew I sound like a struggling porn actress, it would damage my street cred.

Besides, if y’all are worried about a drawing for three Brillo pads being rigged, you might have bigger problems. What I will do, to assuage any concerns anyone might have, is show you a picture of the hat I’m drawing from:

Those are all your names in there.

In the interest of fairness, I left the actual selection up to my panel of impartial judges:

And, without further ado, the winner is:

Stacey from Maple Syrup Land, ping me at marjoriemariemcatee[at]gmail[dot]com to claim your prize!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #74: Black Death Edition

Can you guys believe that I haven’t yet done a Fun Friday Facts on the Black Death? I can’t. I’ve always been kinda fascinated with it because, when I was a girl, my mother used to tell me that she’d had the bubonic plague as a child. She probably made that up, just like she made up the thing about sending our old, sick family dog to retirement in Jamaica, or the thing about how ferrets would chew my lips off if I didn’t wash my face before bed.

Unlike most of the lies my mother told me, I could actually look this one up if I wanted, because there were only 362 human cases of the bubonic plague in the United States between 1944 and 1993, and I bet you every damn one of them has been recorded in the medical literature. I’d like to be able to say I don’t know why my mother would lie to me like that, but I know exactly why she did it – to entertain herself.

What we think of as “the Black Death” was a centuries-long pandemic that peaked in Europe between 1348 and 1350. There have actually been three major plague outbreaks in human history. The first occurred in the 6th and 7th centuries AD and is known as the Plague of Justinian. It’s believed to have killed as many as 40% of the population of Constantinople and up to half of the population of Europe. Plague disappeared from Europe until the 1300s, when it traveled from China to Europe via overland trade routes and killed between one and two thirds of Europe’s population, and more than 22% of the world’s total population. I know nobody knows what twenty percent is – it’s one-fifth. There, mystery solved.

If you watched two out of every three people around you drop dead, you'd draw things like this too.

The third major plague outbreak started in China in 1855 and spread to every continent inhabited by people. It claimed ten million people in India and killed more than 1,000 in Australia. As a result, the Australians created a public health department dedicated to understanding the spread of the disease. It’s because of their efforts that we now know that bubonic plague is caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis, and that it’s spread to humans by fleas who’ve fed on infected animals.

Throughout history, outbreaks of the Black Death have occurred every so often, such as the 1603 London outbreak that killed 38,000. The Italian Plague of 1629-1631 killed 280,000. The Great Plague of Seville from 1647 to 1652 killed 150,000, with another 100,000 perishing in the famines it caused.  The Great Plague of London in 1665 killed about 15% of the city’s population at the time, and was heralded as a sign of the apocalypse although, of course, it wasn’t.

You might think the Black Death is called the Black Death because it causes hemorrhaging and gangrene that turns the sufferer’s skin black. I’m not going to show a picture of that.

Here's a kitty instead.

Actually, medieval writers referred to the Black Death as the “Great Plague,” the “Great Pestilence” or the “Great Mortality.” Writers didn’t begin to describe the Death as Black until the early modern period, but they didn’t mean black the color; they meant black as in “depressing,” “gloomy,” “bleak,” and “my whole town just died.” Some believe that the modern custom of referring to the second pandemic as the Black Death came about due to a mistranslation of the Latin term for the plague, atra mors, or “terrible death,” by Scandinavian writers in the 16th century.  

As I mentioned before, people still get the plague. The most recent case was of a seven-year-old girl who contracted the disease in Colorado in 2012, during a camping trip. Her family thought she was suffering from the flu, but rushed her to the hospital after she had a seizure. Doctors confirm that the girl would have died within 48 hours without treatment. As if you needed more proof that the past sucked, we’re now able to cure that crap right up with some antibiotics, but you still should probably pony up for that expensive topical flea treatment for your furry family members.

This kitty is a death trap.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It’s Official – I Can Make Seeds Sprout

Okay, so first of all I should probably apologize for the unexplained hiatus. Those of you who’ve been hanging around here for a while are used to unexplained hiatuses (hiati?), some of which may last a month or more. As you may have noticed, I have turned over a New Blogging Leaf, so three days is now officially A Long Time.

I’ve been really busy with copywriting assignments, volunteering at the cat rescue (which is now a cat and dog rescue), and spending all day on Saturday watching the WV Strawberry Festival Grand Feature Parade with my dad’s family, which consisted of us sitting around and talking about how much better it was back in the day. Seriously, you guys, the parade sucked. I should’ve taken some pictures so I could recrap it for you. Luckily, I searched through my phone and found one photo I took last year that pretty much sums it all up. This is the Abstinence Works Float:

That's a painted wooden box on a trailer covered in a tarp. And  they call this "one of the best parades in the Eastern United States."
This year’s Abstinence Works Float was a large wooden American flag with the words “Before you say yes, say ‘I Do’” and “American Freedom: A Family Tradition.” Same trailer, same tarp, same woman and kid. I’m not sure if the woman and kid are supposed to be decorative or what. I’m guessing they’re an example of what you can have if you save yourself for marriage?

So, anyway, back to the topic at hand. A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about planting my first personal vegetable garden. After two days of toil, I diligently checked each morning for signs that my seeds would grow. I was a little worried because it rained all day every day for the first week, and I seem to recall hearing somewhere that seeds will rot if the soil stays too moist. Then it frosted, which wasn’t very good for my tomato and pepper plants, but they survived. And then, it happened:

I'm hoping that at least some of this is lettuce.

Definitely beans, probably.


Pumpkin. I've always wanted to grow a pumpkin. I know, dream big.


And also:


Friday, May 17, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #73: History of Anesthesia

I went to the dentist this morning and half of my face is still numb, even though it’s almost 1:30 pm as I write this. That’s what I love most about going to the dentist, is walking around with a numb half-face for the rest of the day. No, seriously, it sure does beat the drill.

The dentist asked me if I am a natural redhead. I am not, but it runs in my mother’s family, so it’s definitely lurking around in my genes just waiting to emerge in the form of a pale, freckly baby who doesn’t look like his father. Dr. Drill was interested because I needed two shots of Novacaine in the jaw and then two more applied directly to the tooth in question, which is why I’m still numb four hours later. Apparently redheads need more anesthesia than blondes and brunettes, and he also thinks I have the complexion of a natural ginger.

It's just the light in here, Doc.

Image credit: Dental Supply

People have been attempting to numb pain during surgical procedures since the dawn of human history, but have only really gotten it right in the past couple of centuries. The ancient Babylonians used a mixture of gum mastic and henbane seed to treat painful dental caries. Henbane, or “stinking nightshade,” was also historically used in magic potions because of its effects, which included hallucinations, flushed skin, restlessness and dilated pupils. The priestesses of Apollo in ancient Greece used it to consult the oracles. Some believe it to have been the poison used to kill Hamlet’s father.

Opium was another popular early anesthetic, as was mandrake, another hallucinogenic nightshade used in magic potions. It is poisonous. Legend has it that the mandrake plant screams when dug up, and that anyone who hears this scream will be killed. Early texts recommended digging it up halfway, tying it to a dog, and then running away, so that the dog pulls up the root and dies instead.

I wonder how many people lost dogs this way.

Ancient Chinese surgeon Hua Tuo, who lived from about 145 to 220 AD, is said to have concocted a formula for general anesthetic from wine and herbal extracts, which allowed him to induce unconsciousness in patients and perform major surgery. The formula for the anesthetic was lost upon his death.

Throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, various herbal tonics were used to render patients unconscious or at least take the edge off during surgical procedures. These tonics typically included such ingredients as henbane, opium, lettuce, mulberry juice, hemlock, ivy and mandrake. Medieval English surgeons used a potion known as “dwale,” which contained vinegar, bryony root, lettuce and bile, as well as hemlock, opium, and henbane. Dwale was often administered by caregivers, such as wives and mothers, as well as by surgeons, although the hemlock in the mixture indeed caused death in some cases.

They wouldn't have heard about the death of Socrates; they didn't have Google.

Scientists began to discover the anesthetic properties of things like nitrous oxide in the 18th century. The first person to notice the pain-relief potential of nitrous oxide was not a surgeon, but a physicist, Humphry Davy. In the early 19th century, Japanese surgeon Hanaoka Seishu used his knowledge of Chinese herbal medicine to recreate what he believed was the ancient general anesthetic potion used by Hua Tuo. Whether or not his potion, which he called tsusensan, really was the same as that used by Hua Tuo, it seems to have worked; in 1804 Hanaoka performed the first documented surgery under general anesthetic, a partial mastectomy to treat the breast cancer of 60-year-old Kan Aiya. By 1835, Hanaoka had performed more than 150 such operations.

In the Western world, physicians began experimenting with things like morphine, nitrous oxide, ether and chloroform as anesthetics in the early 19th century. Early surgeons held what they called “ether frolics,” where audience members were invited to try out the ether. By the 1840s, nitrous oxide had become a popular dental anesthetic. Chloroform gradually replaced ether as a general anesthetic throughout the latter part of the 19th century, although it, too, was phased out when it was found to cause fatal heart palpitations. Of course, the 20th century saw the proliferation of injectable and inhalable anesthetics that mostly don’t kill people at all.

And are definitely better than a screaming root.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What I’m Proud Of (a #ThemeThursday Post)

So I’ve been aware of the link-up known as Theme Thursday for a while now, but I haven’t done it yet because I’m bad at Being Part of a Group. I used to think that I didn’t have friends because nobody liked me, but now I realize the opposite is true – I don’t have friends because I don’t want to be anybody’s friend. Y’all can suck my nuts.

Image credit: Benjamin Gimmel

So, this week’s theme is obviously “What are you proud of?” which I had to think about for a while, which is why the post is late. I’m proud of having earned my BA, but that was a long time ago and it’s becomes obvious that anybody who’s Anybody has at least a Master’s, and even though I’ve been talking about going to grad school since before I finished undergrad, I still haven’t mustered up the motivation to actually do it. By the time I finally do go to grad school I’ll be old and wrinkly and my womb will be as dry as the Sahara, and no one will want to hire me anyway, Master’s degree or not. But I guess that’s okay, cause I can just go ahead and get a doctorate.

Got it all figured out.

Everyone else is proud of their kids, which is all well and good if you have kids, and if you do, I should hope for their sakes that you’re proud of them or at least that you claim to be in public. I do not have kids, and I am proud of that. I’ll tell you what, not getting pregnant is a talent and damn am I good at it. Out of all my talents – writing, memorizing literary trivia, speaking French, wrestling cougars, roasting chickens, turning my bellybutton inside out – not getting pregnant has been the most rewarding by far.

I’ve also been single for four years next week, and I am definitely proud of this because it took effort. I haven’t been single for four years by accident. I had to work at it. I’ve approached being single the way many people seem to approach getting married – which is to say that I think of it as a commitment, but one that I can end whenever I want. Most people would question the benefit of four years of solitude, but most people can’t even get through a weekend without some company, so they can suck my nuts. I set out to become an independent person, and I did it. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I’m Lost

I don’t mean I’m metaphorically lost. I mean I’m literally lost. Okay, not right now. I know where I am right now. I’m at home. But should I leave that home, there is at least a 75% chance that I’ll get lost, and that holds true even if I’m going somewhere I’ve been before.  I’ve been noticing it more and more lately, and I don’t know if it’s a brain tumor or if I just don’t know my way around very well. I’m sure I probably should know my way around by now, since I’ve lived in this town for almost a year, but I work from home and that means I don’t get out much and it’s kind of embarrassing when I have to admit to somebody that I don’t really know where something is, especially when they get all, “Well do you know where [other thing] is?” and I’ll be like, “No,” and then they’ll kinda sigh and be like, “Well, do you know where [yet another thing] is?” and I’ll be like “No,” and then they’ll kinda huff and look me square in the eye and go, “Well you’ve got to know where [thing everybody knows where it is] is?” and I’ll throw up my hands and squeal “I DON’T KNOW WHERE ANYTHING IS!” and they’ll just kinda roll their eyes and sigh because I’m obviously a dumbass.

I have GPS in my phone but it doesn’t help much because I live in West Virginia, which is the Land That GPS Forgot. It keeps telling me to take a right turn into a cow and at one point, it actually asked me to get out of my car and swim across a lake.

Whenever I go anywhere I spend a lot of time driving around trying to figure out where the hell I am. Even when the GPS does tell me to turn onto actual roads and stuff, it often waits until I’ve actually passed them before it says anything. The motherfucker reads maps like my ex-boyfriend, ha ha ha ha ha. No but seriously, once we tried to go from Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor and we ended up in Detroit.

Here's a map if you're not familiar with Michigan.

The best time I ever got lost was when I was in college, and my then-partner and I were trying to go to a Halloween party. She was dressed as a “housewife,” which to her meant wearing pajamas and a bathrobe and half-assedly sticking some curlers in her hair, because we were 20 and figured no one gets dressed if they don’t have to. I was dressed as a pregnant nun.1 We were trying to find this off-campus house party, and in my day, kids, we didn’t have GPS. We had to rely on directions people gave us, and half the time those directions would include lines like, “Yer gunna take a right where the old school house used ta be,” or “Now yer gunna pass a McDonald’s and after it there’s gunna be a left turn. DON’T GO THAT WAY.”

So, we got lost. After an interminable time trying to figure out where the hell we were, we stopped at a McDonald’s, despondent. I wanted to go in and ask for directions, but the gf was embarrassed because we looked ridiculous. We stood in the parking lot and had a little argument about it.

A man sitting in a nearby car overheard us. “You girls lost?” he asked.

“Yeah!” one of us, probably me, announced and I approached the strange man’s car with too much enthusiasm. It was kind of a beat-up car and he was kind of a beat-up man, but I was a young and from the sticks. “We’re trying to get to 5555 Maple Drive, do you know where that is?”

“Of course I know where it is, I’m the Orkin man!” And “Boom!” the strange man pulled out a detailed city map – it was one of those maps that’s so detailed it’s printed in a book of 200 pages. This was Roanoke, VA, by the way – not exactly a major metropolitan center.2

The Orkin man flipped to the relevant page of his map and pointed. “You’re here,” he said, “And you want to go on down this way, take a right here, and then go on to your destination, here.” I’m proud to say that, thanks to that serendipitous encounter with the Orkin man, we made it that house party, and the gf bragged for months about how we got directions from the Orkin man.

Of course, she doesn’t remember it now. 

1 Not really. I can't remember what I was dressed as and neither can anyone else, so "pregnant nun" it is.
2 Don't tell them I said that.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Long-Overdue Awards Acknowledgement Post

Okay, so this isn’t the longest-overdue awards post I’ve ever done. That place was claimed almost two years ago, when I waited like three months to acknowledge the Versatile Blogger Award I received from Lyn Midnight. However, this post is going to be a doozy because, I have received no less than seven blog awards in the past two months. OMG, you guys, every time I turn around someone is throwing an award at me. I feel like it’s time we had some new blogging awards, because they’re the same two awards over and over again. NOT THAT I’M COMPLAINING.

So, first, I’ll start by naming and linking back to the bloggers who offered me awards.

Lady Bren at The World According to Lady Bren offered me a Liebster Award. It’s the one that looks like this:

Su-sieee Mac at Don’t Be a Hippie also offered me a Liebster Award. It’s the one that looks like this:

Different color, you see.

Brandy at Brandy’s Bustlings also offered me a Liebster Award. It’s the one that looks like this:

When I told Brandy that I’d just received two Liebster Awards, she offered me the Very Inspiring Blogger award instead.

Jenn at Something Clever 2.0 also invited me to have either the Very Inspiring Blogger or the Liebster Award. I take it she was also overwhelmed by awards.

This is the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Obviously.

I also received Very Inspiring Blogger Awards from Starr Bryson at The Insomniac’s Dream, Julie at Julie You Jest, and Stacey at Maple Syrup Land.

So, now I’m supposed to answer a bunch of questions about myself and/or state seven (or eleven) facts about myself. Since I’m cramming several different awards into one post, that means I have to list no less than 52 facts about myself. PSYCH. You’re getting seven facts and that’s all the facts you’re getting. Here are your seven facts.

  1. I have a tattoo of a four-leaf clover on one of my shoulders. I can never remember which one.
  2. I’ve been on no fewer than three Internet dates with guys who turned out to be missing teeth.
  3. I no longer agree to meet men who aren’t smiling in their pictures.
  4. I’m not quite sure what to do about the Brillo pad drawing from yesterday, since pretty much everyone who commented appears to have only done so to tell me how much they hate Brillo pads. Do they want to be entered for a chance to win half a box of Brillo pads or not? I can’t tell.
  5. Once when I was really small my parents took me to Hardee’s and I snorted an entire pepper shaker to see if it would make me sneeze. It did.
  6. The most embarrassing injury I ever sustained was when, as a child, I went to crawl under a barbed wire fence and sliced my enormous ass open on the barbed wire.
  7. The second most embarrassing injury I ever sustained was when I had to crawl back under the barbed wire fence to go home and receive first aid for my embarrassing ass injury. Naturally, I sliced open the other cheek.
  8. *BONUS FACT* To this day I still have asymmetrical ass-cheek scars, which draw a lot of questions from lovers, who then assume that something horrible must have happened to me and that the barbed-wire fence story is a cover-up. It is not.

Now we come to the part where I’m supposed to pass on the award to three times as many other bloggers as I actually read on a regular basis. I hate this part. I’m sure whoever came up with this award-passing-linky idea has nothing better to do than sit around reading blogs all day, but I do not. Also, it looks like everyone I know has already received these awards. So, I’m going to make up a new award, and here it is:

I hereby bestow this award upon all of the bloggers mentioned above, in thanks for their graciousness and generosity. I’d also like to honor the following bloggers:

Christina Majaski at Solitary Mama and Cari Wegner at Bubblegum on My Shoe, even though neither of them has blogged in like forever and also, they are both super lame for talking me into doing the A to Z Challenge with them and then dropping out. But they totally did inspire me to these new heights. Sort of.

Ali at Off the Mark, because her post about vacationing in Las Vegas CHANGED MY LIFE, you guys. CHANGED. MY. LIFE.

Paulie Elliott at This is Paulie, because I think he would like it, and NOT AT ALL because I think of him as the slow friend I’ll be able to outrun. Not at all because of that.

Breathe It Out, who is anonymous, but I’m pretty sure I finally figured out who she is. At least I hope so, cause it would suck if the wrong person showed up to the zompocalypse.

Kalyca Schultz at The Scarlet Tarlett, because she has been very supportive of my blogging efforts and I would like her to not be eaten by the ravenous undead.

Page, at Trust Me I’m a Professional (Opinionist), because she’s an old classmate, it’s a new blog, and I want to be supportive. Look at me, trying to be nice and stuff. Also, she makes one hell of a potted flower arrangement.

And, finally, Lelial Thibodeau, who is writing a zombie story at Pushing Fluid. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

There Are Some Things I Think You Should Know

Ok, first things first – Brillo pads freak me right the fuck out. I know that sounds weird, but they’re gross. They have that weird blue soap in them that makes your dishwater look all murky. They leave this weird metallic smell on your fingers. And if you put them in the soap dish, they rust.


And that’s just the worst. Bear with me here. Some people are freaked out by caterpillars, others are freaked out by Brillo pads. It takes all kinds.

This wouldn’t be an issue, because I don’t buy Brillo pads, because they freak me out. But the previous owners of the house left half a box of them under the sink. And I, in one of my frequent moments of poor judgment, decided to use one to clean something. All the weirdness followed. Then I sort of shuddered with disgust while flinging the Brillo pad into the soap dish, where it’s probably planning my downfall even now. I can’t bring myself to throw away the rest of the box, so comment below for your chance to win – let me count – three Brillo pads. I’ll hold a drawing. It’ll be kickass.

Okay, so they're SOS pads. Whatevs, it'll still be kickass.

Another thing I think you should know is that I brake for toads. I like toads. The other night I was driving home from somewhere in the rain, cause it’s been raining here for like a week, and I spotted a toad hopping onto the edge of the muddy gravel road. That’s not uncommon, because the rain really brings them out. So, I brought my car to a stop and waited for the toad to cross the road. It took awhile, because it was a toad.

They're not fast.

A further thing, and maybe some of you already know this about me, is that I have no attention span when it comes to watching your online videos. I don’t care how awesome your video is, if it is longer than a minute, minute and a half, tops, I’m not watching it unless I’m procrastinating or I really, really like you or it has baby bears. I’m a busy woman. I’ve got toads to wait for. I can’t be watching your three-minute-long videos.

Also, last but not least, I need a hairdresser. I haven’t had my hair cut in over a year, and it would probably look nicer if I had it cut, but I don’t have a hair dresser here. I had a great hairdresser in France, but I am obviously not flying back to France just for a haircut, even though it’s tempting. If anyone in my local area knows of a hairdresser WHO KNOWS HOW TO CUT CURLY HAIR, drop me a line. I’m putting that last part in ALL CAPS because it is important. A majority of the hairdressers I’ve been to (which, admittedly, isn't very many) have left me looking like I got my hair caught in a garbage disposal, because they insist on straightening my hair before they cut it, and then it only looks good if I straighten my hair again every day. I am not spending 45 minutes a day straightening my hair. I’ve got toads to wait for. 

Slow fuckin' toads.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I Learned Something New

The other day when I was researching dirty words that start with G for an ABCs of Swearing Challenge post, I learned of a new thing. Well, not new in general, just new to me. I hate it when I say to someone “I learned a new thing” and then when I tell them what it is, the jackass comes back with, “That’s not a new thing, that’s an old thing, I’ve known that for years." What a jerkoff thing to say to somebody, I mean, really.

The thing of which I now have awareness is the girlfriend zone. The girlfriend zone is where you are when you’ve told a guy that you’re not romantically interested, but he keeps hitting on you anyway like he hopes you’ll change your mind, or more likely, break down and give in. As we all know, the best relationships are founded on at least one party’s desperate sense of resignation and defeat.

And then the jagoff gets his panties in a knot when you keep on not being interested in him no matter how many times he makes unwelcome advances. The jerkwad might even go so far as to call you a tease and will almost definitely cry to all of his jizzpuppet friends about how unfair and sad it is that you haven’t come to your senses and realized you’re in love with him yet, and might even call “dibs,” because you are definitely an object that can be possessed and are never to be treated as though you had legal rights. The friends will probably promise never to steal you, and they might even comfort him by saying stupid jerkcircle things like, “It’s just a matter of time, bro.”

As soon as I learned about this thing, I had that awesome feeling of discovery that you get when you find out something you didn’t know had a name does, in fact, have a name, and since it has a name, it must be an experience you share with many others. And then you feel a much better about thinking the person who did this to you was a jerkass, even though most of the people who know you both think that it was maybe a little funny.

And yes, guys, there is such a thing as a boyfriend zone, which is what happens when a woman does this to a man. Feel free to have your moment of discovery now.

You're welcome.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #72: Living Fossils Edition

In a previous Fun Friday Facts column, I explored some fossil hoaxes throughout history. That post was pretty popular, as was the Odd Animals Edition, and the Extinct Animals Edition, and what do you get if you combine all those things? You guessed it – living fossils! Or so says I.

A living fossil is an animal that has existed in its present form over millions or even hundreds of millions of years. In order to qualify as a living fossil, a species must exist in the fossil record in its modern form; it must have survived all of the major extinction events, like the K-T extinction that killed off most of the dinosaurs; and it cannot have enjoyed successful diversification by developing into numerous other related species. A famous example is the coelacanth, a fish presumed extinct since the Cretaceous period ended 65 million years ago. The first known living specimen was caught off the coast of South Africa in 1938.

They are ugly.

Though inedible, the fish are often caught by accident, putting the species at risk. As a living species that was once thought to be extinct, the coelacanth could also be referred to as a “Lazarus taxon,” an organism that has vanished from the fossil record only to reappear again later.

A more familiar living fossil is the ginkgo biloba tree. Fossil specimens of this tree have been found dating back 270 million years. Individual ginkgo trees are remarkably long-lived; some individual specimens have been aged at more than 2,500 years. These trees are exceptionally hardy as well; in 1945, six trees survived the atomic bomb blast at Hiroshima from a distance of 1.6 to 3.2 miles (1-2 kilometers) from ground zero. The trees still grow there today.

A fossilized ginkgo leaf from the Eocene epoch.

The trapdoor spider is the oldest living spider species and the one most closely related to scorpions. Spiders and scorpions are also related to horseshoe crabs, another living fossil that has remained unchanged for at least 450 million years. When you find something that works, you go with it.

Here they are mating FTW.
Image credit: Asturnut

Nautili, the marine mollusks with the tubular, spirally shells, are another example of a living fossil. There are six living species of nautilus, which are a type of cephalopod, which makes them a relative of octopi, cuttlefishes, and squid. These other species lost their shells, or internalized them, but the nautilus has kept his. It gets around by sucking in water and then squirting it out.

Image credit: Manuae

The chevrotain, which I like because it has a French name1, is somewhat informally considered a living fossil. There are ten species living in South and Southeast Asia, as well as Central and West Africa, and they are cute as.

Actually, this one looks kind of angry.
Image credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
Though not technically a living fossil, the chevrotain is an example of a primitive ruminant. They share characteristics with other ruminants, such as a four-chambered stomach and a dearth of upper incisors. They share several features with pigs, including prominent canine teeth, a lack of facial scent glands, and four toes per foot. Their mating behavior is also similar to that of pigs.

Chevrotains mating FTW!

The species was abundant from 34 to 5 million years ago. Modern species live alone or in pairs and give birth to just one offspring per pregnancy. They range in size from 1.5 to 35 pounds (0.7 to 16 kg) and OMG, I want a horsepig that weighs 1.5 pounds.

I'll bite your face off, bitch.

1 Little goat.