Evidently I need to listen to more current music.

When I was a young teenage thing, everybody listened to the radio.  That’s how us hip kidsters were appraised of modern trends.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to according to pop culture at that time either, so I missed out on quite a bit.  Even in my more educated 20s, I am occasionally embarrassed by not knowing particular songs or more often by not knowing the names of songs or singers or groups.  I didn’t own an iPod till someone gave me one last year, and I don’t really do much with iTunes or other music services of the online variety.  So I’m still out of the loop, though in a closer orbit around it.

My youngest sister gave evidence of this online today when we were chatting.  I will give you our conversation verbatim:

Shannon
guess who I saw in concert last night?
Stacey

who?

Shannon

Colbie Caillat

for FREE

she sings Bubbly

isn’t that cool?

Stacey

um, I don’t know who that is

so potentially, yes

but then again, maybe not?

How did I get myself into this fix yet again?  Should I start listening to the radio?  Or Pandora?  Or some other online radio station?  Or do something with Myspace Music?  Or just bother people for their favorite new stuff?  Please people, I’m in immediate need of education here!

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The Peanut Butter Cure

If you are a klutz, it may mean you often get hiccoughs.  In my case, these usually occur at the same time as a fit of coughing and a need to sneeze, which is exactly how it sounds – completely miserable and more than a little ridiculous.  AS I stumbled around the office today, trying to get things accomplished in just such a state, one of my co-workers recommended a big spoonful of peanut butter, a trick he learned from his wife.  Evidently the sticky consistency of the peanut butter helps to re-regulate breathing and digestion.  I decided to try it, as holding my breath had failed as usual.  I only had chunky peanut butter, but about five spoonfuls later, I was fine.

Some questions naturally resulted.  What, exactly, is a hiccough?  What causes them?  Are there any really documented solutions, or are you just better off waiting until they stop?  They can become chronic, of course, but I’d never had something that bad happen to me.  Yet.  Did the peanut butter really help me then?  Or was it just another old wives’ tale meant to pacify the hiccougher with peanut butter’s goodness while they were in distress?

After a bit of research, I found that they can be caused by just about anything to do with breathing.  Some of the rarer, more interesting causes are: electrolyte imbalance, chemotherapy, or pressure to the phrenic nerve.  Home remedies include a variety of poses, breathing instructions, and substances, including some that just make you look silly.  How desperate are we to ‘Plug your ears with your thumbs, and use your pinkies to plug both nostrils and hold your breath until cessation of hiccups’?  Medically, when persistent and possibly dangerous, they are treated with drugs.  Lovely.  Aren’t we a grand society?  I think I’ll stick with the peanut butter – mmm, chunky.

USPS controversy and there/their debate.

Recently near Denver, a non-profit manager was accused of violating postal regulations when shipping materials from his organization, Pro-Players Association.  Pro Players is a group of former professional athletes and associated personalities (commentators, media members) who raise money for a variety of charities.  Though I didn’t see any particular charities mentioned that supported environmental causes, they were doing their part and saving by reusing a variety of boxes for shipping.  Unfortunately, Gary Adler, the man in charge, was using Priority and Express mail boxes for regular mail services, which the Post Office would not deliver.

Whether or not the USPS or Adler is ultimately to blame in this case – and probably both sides should take a little blame – the news reporter is definitely to blame.  To blame for this quote: “We took off the tape and we took off the old label that was on their originally,” said Adler describing a box he recently sent that was returned by the postal service.  Now that’s bordering on slanderous.  If someone quoted me as if I were a hick that didn’t know the difference between there and their, I would be highly upset.  Unless the reporter asked me to spell ‘there’ and I goofed.  Then I’d just feel embarrassed and dumb.
Adler says he’s not going to use the USPS for shipping anymore, but I would call this a perfect opportunity for more activism than a simple boycott.  The USPS already has its own recycling program and is committed to using recycled materials.  Why not make such services available to patrons as well?  If Adler was picking up these boxes from Post Office branches, and they weren’t being recycled already, that means consumers leaving the boxes after unwrapping their package.  A simple inclusion of a recycling container within the branch (ostensibly already on site ina  back part of the mail room) would mean the growth of the USPS commitment to the environment and a new service for patrons.  Who wouldn’t be pleased?

Colossal vs. Giant

I just found this article on new discoveries about colossal squid, and was astonished.  I’ve always been interested in the sort of things lurking in the depths of the ocean – the Kraken, which we now think is a giant squid, the sperm whale, mondo-big sea lilies – all that stuff.  Anyone who reads dragon books has to love the dragons of the deep.  But it was perhaps this love that led me slightly astray in the past – for some reason I’d thought that giant squid and sperm whales were natural enemies, slamming and ramming one into the other.  It turns out that it’s more likely for the sperm whales to eat squid of various types, and that we get quite a bit of our information on deep sea squid from their remains in the bellies of whales.

Back to the article – before today, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as colossal squid, as opposed to the giant variety.  From what little we know of the species, we think it is larger and denser than the giant squid, making it the largest invertebrate in the world.  Why had I never heard of it before now, then?  Perhaps it hasn’t been getting as much press because of the fewer documented cases of its existence.  The earliest reported finding of a full body was in 2003, though earlier parts (tentacles and beaks) had been found as early as 1925.  Despite this lack of complete specimens, the colossal is different enough to be granted its own singular genus.  I may not know much about Linnaeus (besides that he was a racist), but I gather that this means something is importantly different about this species. More information can be found at this comparative site, and at the Te Papa museum.

If colossals can have such a different morphology than the giants, and if we still do not know the full extent of these squid’s habits and habitats, it could again be a case of writing more than we know.  Who’s to say that colossals and sperm whales aren’t natural enemies?  Who’s to say that icebergs can’t travel south and then north again without flipping?  Who’s to say that the Vikings didn’t intermarry and merge with northern Native American tribes? (This is all in one of those possibly-real-life youth adventure books, but I’ve been unable to think of the title.  Sorry.)