26 November 2015
My life is undergoing some changes right now, so the blog will appear inactive probably for a couple more weeks. Nothing really really bad - just a lot of things to do that have to take priority over blogging. I have found time to surf and to bookmark, but not to create posts, so I'll have an abundance of material to share once these other matters get resolved.
In the meantime, Thanksgiving good wishes to all. This is the day to count your blessings and be grateful for all that you have and for all the troubles you don't have.
The chrysalis is a Black Swallowtail.
11 November 2015
My elderly mother fell last Monday, sustaining one fracture of a metacarpal and additional injuries to her lower spine. Her treatment is vastly complicated by advanced dementia, and I have been consumed with related activities since then. I am therefore shutting down the blog for probably 3-4 weeks.
Those eager for TYWK material are invited to explore the "categories" in the right sidebar. There are 13,366 old posts and certainly some you have missed or forgotten.
I'll close this post to comments and hope to rejoin you all at about the time of my December blogiversary.
10 November 2015
07 November 2015
A long and quite interesting article at Literary Hub traces one writer's journey to document the use of dildos by the wives of Nantucket whalers.
On Nantucket, 80-year-old Connie Congdon and I sat in her dim living room looking at the 120-year-old plaster dildo that a mason had found in her chimney...Much more at Literary Hub. Well worth the read for those interested in the subject matter.
In the box were the other antiques the mason had found with the dildo: six charred envelopes from the 1890s addressed to Captain James B. Coffin; letters from the same James B. Coffin to Grover Cleveland and Assistant Secretary of State Edwin Dehl; a dirty and frayed shirt collar; a pipe that still smelled of tobacco when I fit my nose in the bowl; and a green glass laudanum bottle. These items must have been hidden in the chimney by James’s wife, Martha “Mattie” Coffin, sometime between when the letters were dated and when she died in 1928. The fireplace was later sealed up, and a closet was built in front of it...
She unwrapped the stony phallus from its pink tissue paper and handed it to me. It was heavier than it looked. The head had been painted wild-berry red. The shaft was off-white and touched with light brown stains. Through the center was a hole no thicker than a straw, as if it had been skewered for drying. Saw marks streaked the cross section of the flat base, and it had been circumcised with whittling scrapes. “No mistaking what it is,” Connie said, as I turned it in my hand...
She bent at the waist, snapped on the flashlight, and peered up the chimney. “Up there,” she said, motioning me to kneel down beside her. “It was on the flue shelf.” I craned my neck. Her light swept over the chimney’s charred innards. The damper ledge where the dildo had been hidden was an arm’s length away...
Nantucket wives were dubbed “Cape Horn widows,” because their husbands might be gone for eight years. In Moby-Dick, Captain Ahab tells his first mate, Starbuck, that of the past forty years of “making war on the horrors of the deep” he’d only been ashore three, leaving only “one dent in [his] marriage pillow.” “[W]ife?” Ahab rages, “wife?—rather a widow with her husband alive!” The dildos, called “he’s-at-homes” in some books on the history of the Yankee whale fishery, were meant to be some insurance of fidelity for a husband who was rarely present.
I can't close without including a link to the famous poem(s) "There Once Was a Man From Nantucket."
Researchers... have developed a new drug that can be delivered directly into the eye via an eye dropper to shrink down and dissolve cataracts - the leading cause of blindness in humans.Publication in Nature. Discussion at Reddit.
The new drug is based on a naturally-occurring steroid called lanosterol. The idea to test the effectiveness of lanosterol on cataracts came to the researchers when they became aware of two children in China who had inherited a congenital form of cataract, which had never affected their parents. The researchers discovered that these siblings shared a mutation that stopped the production of lanosterol, which their parents lacked...
They tested their lanosterol-based eye drops in three types of experiments. They worked with human lens in the lab and saw a decrease in cataract size. They then tested the effects on rabbits, and according to Hanae Armitage at Science Mag, after six days, all but two of their 13 [rabbits] had gone from having severe cataracts to mild cataracts or no cataracts at all. Finally, they tested the eye drops on dogs with naturally occurring cataracts. Just like the human lens in the lab and the rabbits, the dogs responded positively to the drug, with severe cataracts shrinking away to nothing, or almost nothing.
05 November 2015
Sam Caress and Jordan Pellett recently adopted Gunner. He's helped fill the hole in their hearts created when Luna, their two-year-old dog, died in April after getting into some chewing gum made with the sugar-substitute Xylitol.More at CBS News; video at the link.
Xylitol is safe for humans but can cause severe low blood sugar, seizures -- even liver failure -- in dogs.
Sugar-free gum is the biggest culprit. But Xylitol is also used in some sugar-free candies, chewable vitamins, even some baked goods and peanut butter.
The number of products is on the rise and so are the calls to the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, from 82 in 2004 to more than 3,700 last year.
"For the first time in their lives two dozen recently rescued ducks get their first taste of life in a pond. They had been living for years with a hoarder who had them in pens without adequate access to water or proper nutrition."Backstory at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.
This photo of a mangrove swamp was part of a photoessay in the Washington Post, which focused on the lives of the children who harvest the cockles in the mangroves.
Ecuador is home to the tallest mangroves in the world: The Cayapas Mataje Reserve. Its soil is filled with small black cockles — a culinary delicacy prized in Ecuador — and the arduous task of searching for and picking those shelled creatures from the mangroves falls on the shoulders of children, who use their long limbs and agile bodies to scale the spindly branches of the trees and mine the thick mud that surrounds them.My thoughts drifted to vague memories of reports of warfare conducted in such ecosystems and the pure hell that soldiers in combat must have endured. I had thought I remembered battles in mangrove swamps in the U.S. Civil War, but for the moment the only reference I can find is to the Battle of Ramree Island in the South Pacific:
"That night [of the 19 February 1945] was the most horrible that any member of the M.L. [motor launch] crews ever experienced. The scattered rifle shots in the pitch black swamp punctured by the screams of wounded men crushed in the jaws of huge reptiles, and the blurred worrying sound of spinning crocodiles made a cacophony of hell that has rarely been duplicated on earth. At dawn the vultures arrived to clean up what the crocodiles had left. . . . Of about one thousand Japanese soldiers that entered the swamps of Ramree, only about twenty were found alive.Some years ago I tried to hike through a tamarack swamp in northern Minnesota; the footing was treacherous and unpleasant, but presumably a log power easier than this mangrove tangle. The other images in the photoessay give some insight into a life different from the ones you and I live.
02 November 2015
"As it turns out, some octopuses, like this one, possess the foresight to actually pack along coconut shells to use as protective shelters when exploring areas without adequate places to hide."
Labels: Video - science and nature
My eye was first drawn to the unusual word "renoun" highlighted in the center of the page. It's a word that would have been familiar to readers of Middle English right after the Norman conquest, but it was replaced by "renown/renowned" about five centuries ago. (I had to check several references to make sure "Renoun" wasn't an extraordinarily subtle pun based on the name of the engraver or a person involved in the provenance of the stamp. It wasn't.)
A comedy of errors is produced by the use - twice - of quotation marks for emphasis. Boldface, underlining, font size, or some other alteration would have been better, but please not quotation marks, which are not only inappropriate, but which tend to suggest the opposite of what is written.
The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks will never run out of material.
Labels: English language