Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Love Spiders


Spider "Resurrections" Take Scientists by Surprise
Charles Q. Choi
for National Geographic News
April 24, 2009

Spiders in a lab twitched back to life hours after "drowning"—and the scientists were as surprised as anyone.


The bugs, it seems, enter comas to survive for hours underwater, according to a new study. The unexpected discovery was made during investigations of spiders from salt marshes that are regularly flooded with seawater.

A number of spiders and insects have long been known to survive for hours underwater. But submersion experiments typically only test how long the bugs can withstand drowning—not whether they can revive themselves after their seeming deaths.



Scientists at the University of Rennes in France collected three species of wolf spider—two from salt marshes, one from a forest. The team immersed 120 females of each species in seawater, jostling the spiders with brushes every two hours to see if they responded. As expected, all the forest wolf spiders (Pardosa lugubris) apparently died after 24 hours. The two salt marsh-dwelling species took longer—28 hours for Pardosa purbeckensis and 36 hours for Arctosa fulvolineata.

After the "drownings," the researchers, hoping to weigh the spiders later, left them out to dry. That's when things began to get weird.

Hours later, the spiders began twitching and were soon back on their eight feet.

"This is the first time we know of arthropods returning to life from comas after submersion," said lead researcher Julien P├ętillon, an arachnologist now at Ghent University in Belgium.

Marsh-dwelling A. fulvolineata, which took longest to "die," typically requires about two hours to recover, the researchers discovered. In the wild, the species doesn't avoid water during flooding, while the other salt marsh species generally climbs onto vegetation to avoid advancing water. The spiders' survival trick depends on a switch to a metabolic process that does not require air, the researchers speculate.



Whatever trick these spiders have mastered, P├ętillon said, they may not be alone.

"There could be many other species that could do this that we do not know of yet."

Findings published April 22 in the journal Biology Letters.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

All Right, Miss Phelps...

This is a response to Kelsey Phelps' latest blog posting, so direct all virulent hate mail there.

Yes, I agree, Earth Day is kind of a cop-out of a holiday (we'll be celebrating Oxygen Day soon, kids!), but it apparently was recently celebrated. Ask Kelsey. I don't know--since leaving all the hippies in Humboldt County, it's somehow easier to forget that they're out there, and without them celebrating Earth Day, I forget about it too.

But I digress down yet another bunny-trail. Bad bunny. Shoot the bunny. Bang! Now the bunny's dead. Metaphor way too swollen: reel it in.

Okay, here are some photos of my favorite places to be (limited to earth). If you notice a theme, don't be surprised. If you don't notice a theme, don't ever become a snake hunter.

I would love to be here, at home, in Humboldt County:



Or here, with them:


And would I really mind being here? No, I don't think I would.


I loved being here with them:


and here:


I would have loved to have seen this,


and I would greatly love to be here, at home, with her:


Or with her (but preferably both):


Here:


and here:


And here with them:


These are some of the places I call home, and some of the people I call family.

Thanks to my Mom

Not entirely sure how much of it I believe, but quite interesting none the less.


In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are 'limbs,' therefore painting them would cost the buyer more. Hence the expression, 'Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg.' (Artists know hands and arms are more difficult to paint)

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As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year (May and October) Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good wigs made from wool. They couldn't wash the wigs, so to clean them they would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term 'big wig.' Today we often use the term 'here comes the Big Wig' because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.

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In the late 1700's, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used for dining. The 'head of the household' always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest, who was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal. To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. They called the one sitting in the chair the 'chair man.' Today in business, we use the expression or title 'Chairman' or 'Chairman of the Board.'

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Personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As=2 0a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another woman's face she was told, 'mind your own bee's wax.' Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term 'crack a smile'. In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt . . . Therefore, the expression 'losing face.'


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Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A proper and dignified woman, as in 'straight laced'. . Wore a tightly tied lace.
0A


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Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the 'Ace of Spades.' To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead. Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren't 'playing with a full deck.'


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Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV's or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars. They were told to 'go sip some ale' and listen to people's conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at different times. 'You go sip here' and 'You go sip there.' The two words 'go sip' were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we have the term 'gossip.'


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At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in 'pints' and who was drinking in 'quarts,' hence the term 'minding your'P's and Q's '


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One more and betting you didn't know this!

In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons.. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem....how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a 'Monkey' with 16 round indentations.

However, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make 'Brass Monkeys.' Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled.


Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, 'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.' (All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)


If you don't send this fabulous bit of historic knowledge to any and all your unsuspecting friends, your floppy is going to fall off your hard drive and kill your mouse.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Centipedes vs. Millipedes

To solve the perennial question: millipedes are the cool, friendly looking ones; centipedes have the creepy legs off to the side, poison pinchers and eat cute helpless things.



There is a type of centipede that grows to almost two feet long, climbs the walls of a cave, dangles the front half of its body from the ceiling and snags bats as they flurry in. Apparently looks aren't always deceiving.



If you want to watch it on youtube, here you are.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris, Vin Diesel and Arnold Schwarzenegger have all died and are in Heaven. Each of them hope to occupy the seat next to God. God asks Vin Diesel why he thinks he should have the seat and Vin replies, "I believe... I should have the seat because of the virtuosity in my toughness and pride." Arnie says, "I believe... that I should be the one sitting next to you because of all my achievements." God then turns to Chuck Norris, who replies with, "I believe... you are sitting in my seat."


When Chuck Norris sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself, crouched and ready to attack. Chuck Norris has not had to pay taxes ever.


Chuck Norris died ten years ago, but the Grim Reaper can't get up the courage to tell him.


Chuck Norris once survived a suicide bombing. He was the bomber.


Chuck Norris does not know where you live, but he knows where you will die.


Chuck Norris can divide by zero.

Wodehousian Fun