I guess the first question that pops into my mind at this point is: why would you want to weigh 25,000 penguins? This question is closely followed by a second question which is: what could any of this possibly have to do with the beloved author of books for children of all sizes, Dr. Seuss? Last but not least: do I have even the slightest idea where this column is headed?Continue reading “How To Weigh 25,000 Penguins (Simultaneously) With Apologies to Dr. Seuss”
Tag: Komodo Dragons
Florida Wood Rat Crisis!
Many of us have excess time on our hands these days and some of us are even putting it to good use doing all kinds of things. These things would include picking up musical instruments, playing them in some cases, trying to buy paint (assuming you don’t live in the State of Michigan), painting things, taking note of the fact that zoo animals are now fornicating at an alarming rate because nobody is gawking at them, and last but not least, figuring out that “Social Distancing” is just a pretentious way of saying “Don’t get too close to other people.”
After all, you could be right beside someone but remain mute and/or generally uncommunicative. To me, that would be an example of being socially distant but still physically proximate. Meanwhile you would remain square in the genetically-modified nano-gunsights of any stray viruses that might happen to be wafting your way from the other person. If the viruses had genetically-modified nano-gunsights, that is.
Basically, I don’t think Social Distancing is a very precise name for a behavioural constraint.
I thought maybe I was the only one who had a Social Distancing bone stuck in my throat until I saw this poster put out by the Department Of Thinking Up Things You Can Do With A Hockey Stick. Or maybe it was from the Government Of Alberta. Same thing.
Anyways, apparently somebody else had second thoughts-or even first thoughts-about Social Distancing and decided to do something about it. Just in case you thought the following poster was an example of the increasing problem we’re having with Fake Posters, here is the link:https://open.alberta.ca/publications/covid-19-information-help-prevent-the-spread-poster
And here is the poster:
Yes!! Thank you Government of Alberta! Long live clarity of written speech.
Meanwhile, when you’re not brandishing your hockey stick, one of the other things you could be doing with your time is learning about the plight of the beleagured Key Largo Wood Rat. (Key Largo is in South Florida, doing its level (!) best to stay above the water level.)
By the way, I just want you to know that “Florida Wood Rat Crisis!” can be rearranged into the following cryptic exclamation:
“Orc dirt! I do owl safaris”
What does that even mean? I have no idea. Really. It was the best thing I could come up with. And it took me like two hours. A LOT like two hours in fact. One hundred and twenty minutes to be exact. If you can come up with something less incoherent in under two hours let me know. I’ll send you an autographed hockey stick.
The animals we’re going to be concerned with for the rest of this discussion fall into the general category of “critters” according to my wife’s taxonomy. These critters are pack rats that inhabit a large swath of the United States as far west as Colorado and as far south as large parts of Cuba including Miami.
The Key Largo Wood Rats-which I happen to think is actually a pretty excellent name for an NHL hockety team- earn their name mostly because they live in Key Largo, but also because these rats are known for building startlingly large homes. (Not unlike retired NHL hockey players!) And everyone knows that “even the wildlife in Florida want enormous homes”.
Seriously, these industrious little 15-inch long creatures construct massive forest dens by dragging countless sticks and full-on branches for yards through the thick underbrush. These dens can be up to 4 feet high and 6 to 8 feet in diameter and are often festooned to taste with things like shells, discarded Sharpie caps, Eucalyptus Floral Semi-Sheer Rod Pocket Curtain Panels, frayed bungee cords and old videotape copies of the movie “Willard”. So really, we’re talking about a creature that is kind of like a little land beaver who has picked up the decorating skills of an octopus-or maybe Martha Stewart. Or both.
Overall though, despite their flair for decorating, the Wood Rats along Key Largo have been in decline due to pressure from agriculture and construction of things like missile silos and luxury resorts. Predation from snakes, raccoons, Shoebill Cranes, Komodo Dragons, warthogs and a huge raving horde of feral cats hasn’t helped.
The KLWRs don’t make it any easier for themselves either. Take another look at that large cone-shaped pile of sticks and branches in the photo above. That is a lot of sticks and branches. When the rats construct their houses, they make a TON of noise dragging all that stuff through the forest in the middle of the night. They might as well strap small magnesium flares to their heads and lay down on dinner plates, as far as the ravenous feral cats are concerned.
There have been efforts to curtail the cats by catching them, sterilizing them, lopping off the tops of their left ears to mark them and then releasing them back into the wilds of the local luxury resorts. This seemed to work until the cats banded together and started lopping off the tips of the left ears of their unsterilized companions. The whole program ground to a halt. Never underestimate the intelligence of feral cats.
But there’s one thing to remember about Key Largo. It’s only about a half-mile wide. Sooner or later people will probably start trying to jump over it with Jet Skis.
Not all of them will be related to Evel Knieval. (For those of you who weren’t around in the 1970’s, Evel Knieval was a motorcycle stunt jumper.) Therefore, Key Largo may soon be littered with the hulls of defunct Jet Skis and researchers have already proved that the wood rats will happily move into empty Jet Ski hulls. (I’m not making this up.) Then the rats can rest safely and happily in their new homes and stop lying down on metaphorical dinner plates with small metaphorical magnesium flares strapped to their heads every night.
So there’s always hope.
Just ask Evel Knieval.
How To Live To Be At Least One Hundred Years Old
Before I get started it’s probably worth listing some of the loose threads that have been lying around from previous columns. Bear in mind that listing some of the loose threads might simply be a way to get started without actually saying I’m getting started. But by then it will be too late to stop. Anyway…
Some Of The Loose Threads That Are Lying Around From Previous Columns:
-How to tell if you have a Komodo Dragon problem when you’re not a deer
-How to establish yourself as a successful Body Part model
There are lots of ways to tell whether or not you have a Komodo Dragon problem. First of all, are you more than 985 feet from the closest bush, forest, stand of grass, Quonset hut or anything else that could conceal a 10-foot long lizard? If the answer is yes, you currently don’t have a Komodo Dragon problem because I read the following gem on a Komodo Dragon fact site: “They are able to see prey and other objects as far as 985 feet away.” So even if there is one lurking out there somewhere, it can’t see you because you’re too far from it’s lair-unless it has a telescope (or binoculars). This is unlikely.
Secondly, if you happen to see a Komodo Dragon at close range (say 700 feet), does it look like this?
If so, you can relax. Despite the sly grin, this is most likely a dead Komodo Dragon.
Are you currently located on any of the Lesser Sunda Islands, namely: Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang or Padar? If not, you don’t have a Komodo Dragon problem because they don’t live anywhere else except maybe in zoos.
Have you recently (in the last 60 seconds) fallen into the Komodo Dragon enclosure at a zoo? Are you contemplating climbing into a Komodo Dragon enclosure for some obscure reason known only to you? If the answer to both these questions is no, once again, I think you probably don’t have a Komodo Dragon issue.
Do you bear any resemblance at all to a juvenile Komodo Dragon? No? Congratulations! Your chance of being eaten has just dropped substantially, as adult Komodos routinely eat their young, including nieces and nephews.
Finally, do certain aspects of your body stand out? Do you consider your legs, hands or feet to be among your best features? Do you already lavish inordinate amounts of time on some of your body parts, regularly coating them with expensive lotions and suchlike and protecting them from things like penetrating injuries and the harsh rays of the sun?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, venomous 10-foot lizard carnivores are the least of your concerns. Instead you need to start worrying about all the time you may have wasted by NOT already having become a Body Part model.
Q: What is a Body Part model? Is it something from Forensic Files?
A: No. A Body Part model, also known as a Closeup model, is like a regular, anorexic model except that he or she only models isolated parts of their body that might have a special quality. Body Part models appear in ads for things like shoes, fingernail polish, rings and socks.
Q: What about ads for parrots?
A: No. That’s a ridiculous question.
Q: OK, sorry. So what are the special qualities we’re talking about here?
A: We’ll get to that.
Q: (Sigh) So how do I get started?
A: Take the advice of the good (but marginally literate) folks at UK Models:
“Approach an agency who specialise in this area to understand if your feature is photogenic or not. There is no harm in asking as you could make a living off modelling this body part. Have a look at campaigns that use isolated features and compare the body part to your own to gauge if you will be considered in the niche.”
I am not making this up. Top Body Part models, secure in their niches, can earn thousands of dollars a day. It’s a highly-competitive business though, with lots of rules:
Hands – Flawless, smooth skin with evenly shaped nails. Hand shape is important. Male hands should have minimum hair.
Legs – Smooth, long and shapely. Skin free of veins, blemishes. Not overly muscular.
Feet – Evenly shaped toes and nails. Free of corns, bunions or other foot blemishes.
Shoe size Should range from size 6-10 for women, and 8-12 for men.
Body – Even skin tone and well-toned, nice muscularity.
I checked out some professional body model images and I have to say that you can certainly tell the difference between an amateur Body Part model and a highly-trained professional Body Part model.
All I can say is that there are a lot of strange things going on in this world. Even if you live to be at least one hundred, you won’t see half of them.
How To Live To Be At Least One Hundred:
Choose healthy parents.
Avoid falling asleep outdoors on any of these islands: Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang, Padar.
Don’t tell any of your descendants how much money you’re going to leave them in your will.
Move to the island of Okinawa; there are more centenarians per 100,000 people on Okinawa than anywhere else in the world.
“Eat like a raw egg or something every day.”
-longevity tip from anonymous fifteen-year old
Laugh regularly. Research has shown that adults who see humor in life are 35% more likely to live a longer life than those who do not.
If you don’t have a sense of humor, get one. And if you don’t have a sense of humor, why are you even reading this column? Go read The Economist or something.
Get a therapy dog.
Keep your hands and feet perfectly groomed at all times. You never know! Your Body Part modeling career might be waiting for you just around the corner…If a Komodo Dragon doesn’t get you first.
Next column: How to have a successful career as a therapy dog.
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