Monday, September 30, 2019

Thought for the Day



To boldly go . . .

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In the interest of broadening the knowledge and education of the readers of Bytes, the last few days have seen articles about formulas for funny farts and the Ig Nobel Prizes for improbable research. In that same vein I present you an article about a little known and little discussed aspect of the 1969 Apollo 10 space mission. 

Apollo 10 was a May 1969 human spaceflight, the fourth crewed mission in the United States Apollo program, and the second (after Apollo 8) to orbit the Moon. It was a "dress rehearsal" for the first Moon landing, testing all of the components and procedures, just short of actually landing. 

The Apollo Lunar Module (LM) was flown to a descent orbit within 8.4 nautical miles (15.6 km) of the lunar surface, at the point where powered descent for landing would normally begin. After orbiting the Moon 31 times Apollo 10 returned safely to Earth, and its success enabled the first landing to be attempted on the Apollo 11 mission two months later. 

Left to right: Lunar Module pilot, Eugene A. Cernan, Commander, Thomas P. Stafford, and Command Module pilot John W. Young. 

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The following article is reprinted from The Daily Telegraph of April 10 2013 and relies upon then recently released NASA transcripts, the link being: 

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NASA's Apollo 10 astronauts encountered floating human waste 

HOW astronauts go to the toilet in zero gravity has always interested some. Now it can revealed unwanted difficulties - among them issues of ownership - can arise. Newly-released transcripts from NASA's Apollo 10 mission to the moon in May 1969 show that when it came to boldly going, all was not well. 

Astronauts Thomas Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan had, judging by the transcripts, profound difficulty managing the spacecraft's toilet, the Daily Mail reported. 

Apollo 10's Commander, Thomas Stafford, was first to realise there was a problem.

Floating waste, Apollo 10 transcript 

"Give me a napkin quick ... there’s a turd floating through the air," he said. 

John Young, the Command Module Pilot, quickly replied: "I didn’t do it. It ain’t one of mine." 

Eugene Cernan, the Lunar Module Pilot, quickly realising the blame was shifting towards him, shot back: "I don’t think it’s one of mine." 

Stafford then retorted: "Mine was a little more sticky than that. Throw that away." 

Young retorted: "God almighty" before laughter is heard. 


Cernan then discovers there's more than one piece of human waste floating in the cockpit. 

"Here’s another goddamn turd. What’s the matter with you guys? Here, give me a –" which is greeted with laughter from Stafford and Young. 


Stafford asks: "It was just floating around?" 

Cernan: "Yes." 

The issue was reviewed after the mission ended, with NASA experts concluding that correctly using the "facilities"in space - ie, a strategically-positioned plastic bag - required "a great deal of skill". 

"In general, the Apollo waste management system worked satisfactorily from an engineering standpoint," according to the biomedical review said. "From the point of view of crew acceptance, however, the system must be given poor marks." 

Apollo 10 was the fourth manned mission in the US Apollo space program. Its purpose was to be a "dry run" for the Apollo 11 mission, testing the procedures and components of a Moon landing without actually landing on the Moon itself. 




Sunday, September 29, 2019

Thought for the Day



Ig Nobel Prizes

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Byter Graham E sent me a lengthy commentary on “farting”: in popular culture, history, literature and more, in response to my post yesterday about some aspects of that topic.  Thanks Graham, you are certainly Master of the Fart.  However, to give readers a break from flatulence, I will post that next week.

My post on the study done of farting and the formula developed by the experts as to how to assess the funniest of the farts reminded me that it was time to have a look at this year’s Ig Nobel Prizes.  That post appears below.

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Ig Nobel Prizes 2019


The Ig Nobel Prizes are satiric prizes awarded annually since 1991 to celebrate ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research, its stated aim being to "honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think." The name of the award is a pun on the Nobel Prize, which it parodies, and the word ignoble. Organised by the scientific humour magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), the Ig Nobel Prizes are presented by Nobel laureates in a ceremony at the Sanders Theatre,  Harvard University.

The 29th Ig Nobel award ceremony was held on September 12 2019.

Marc Abrahams, far right, presides over the 29th annual Ig Nobel awards ceremony at Harvard University, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, in Cambridge, Mass. The spoof prizes for weird and sometimes head-scratching scientific achievement are bestowed by the Annals of Improbable Research magazine, and handed out by real Nobel laureates.

Following is a summary of the winners and winning studies.  Access the official site for links to the research:

Chemistry:

Shiguru Watanabe of Japan accepts the Ig Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the study "Estimation of the Total Saliva Produced Per Day in Five-Year-Old Children" 

This year’s Chemistry Prize went to a team of pediatric dentists at Hokkaido University for determining how much saliva a 5-year-old produces. The study of 30 kindergartners showed that each generates about 500 mL of spit each day.

Engineering:
Iman Farahbakhsh, a mechanical engineering professor at Islamic Azad University, won the Engineering Prize for inventing a machine that changes babies’ diapers. The combination washer and diaper-changing apparatus “includes a main chamber, a glass window, a seat, a leg holder, a safety belt, a diaper removing arm, a sprinkler, and a dryer,” according to the 2018 patent.

Physics:

David Hu speaks as Patricia Yang, right, listens as they receive the Ig Nobel award in physics for studying how and why wombats make cubed poo.

The Physics Prize was awarded to a team that studied how and why wombats make cubed poo. The group reported its findings—that the irregular elasticity of wombats’ intestines leads to compact, cubed feces—at a meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics in 2018. It is the second Physics Ig Nobel for two members of the team, Patricia Yang and David Hu of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who shared the 2015 prize for determining it takes most mammals 21 s (plus or minus 13 s) to empty their bladders.

Medicine:

Silvano Gallus of Italy accepts the Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for the study "Does Pizza Protect Against Cancer?" 

Silvano Gallus, head of the Laboratory of Lifestyle Epidemiology at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, garnered the Medicine Prize “for collecting evidence that pizza might protect against illness and death, if the pizza is made and eaten in Italy”

Medical Education:
The Medical Education Prize went to researchers that used the animal-training technique known as clicker training to teach surgeons to perform orthopaedic surgery

Biology:
An international team claimed the Biology Prize for a study that determined there is a distinct difference in the magnetic properties of live and dead cockroaches

Anatomy:
Two human fertility researchers at the University of Toulouse earned the Anatomy Prize for “Thermal Asymmetry of the Human Scrotum,” their study of postal workers and bus drivers. One of the winners, Roger Mieusset, also invented heated underwear for men, purportedly for contraception.

Economics:

Andreas Voss, left, and his son Timothy Voss, of The Netherlands, receive the Ig Nobel award in economics for testing which country's paper money is best at transmitting dangerous bacteria.

The Economics Prize went to three microbiology researchers “for testing which country’s paper money is best at transmitting dangerous bacteria.” Answer: the Romanian leu

Peace:
For their study “The Pleasurability of Scratching an Itch: A Psychophysical and Topographical Assessment,” five dermatologists, a psychologist, and a biostatistician won the Peace Prize

Psychology:
Julius Maximilian University of WΓΌrzburg psychologist Fritz Strack won the Psychology Prize “for discovering that holding a pen in one’s mouth makes one smile, which makes one happier—and for then discovering that it does not”

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The following article is from the website Metal Floss at:

5 Hilarious Discoveries from the 2019 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

Each September, the Ig Nobel Prizes (a play on the word ignoble) are given out to scientists who have wowed the world with their eccentric, imaginative achievements. Though the experiments are usually scientifically sound and the results are sometimes truly illuminating, that doesn’t make them any less hilarious. From postal workers’ scrotal temperatures to cube-shaped poop, here are our top five takeaways from this year’s award-winning studies.

1. LEFT AND RIGHT SCROTA OFTEN DIFFER IN TEMPERATURE, WHETHER YOU’RE NAKED OR NOT.
Roger Mieusset and Bourras Bengoudifa were awarded the anatomy prize for testing the scrotum temperatures in clothed and naked men in various positions. They found that in some postal workers, bus drivers, and other clothed civilians, the left scrotum is warmer than the right, while in some naked civilians, the opposite is true. They suggest that this discrepancy may contribute to asymmetry in the shape and size of male external genitalia.

2. 5-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN PRODUCE ABOUT HALF A LITER OF SALIVA PER DAY.
Shigeru Watanabe and his team nabbed the chemistry prize for tracking the eating and sleeping habits of 15 boys and 15 girls to discover that, regardless of gender, they each produce about 500 milliliters of spit per day. Children have lower salivary flow rates than adults, and they also sleep longer (we produce virtually no saliva when we sleep), so it seems like they may generate much less saliva than adults. However, since children also spend more time eating than adults (when the most saliva is produced), the average daily levels are about even—at least, according to one of Watanabe’s previous studies on adult saliva.

3. SCRATCHING AN ANKLE ITCH FEELS EVEN BETTER THAN SCRATCHING OTHER ITCHES.
Ghada A. bin Saif, A.D.P. Papoiu, and their colleagues used cowhage (a plant known to make people itchy) to induce itches on the forearms, ankles, and backs of 18 participants, whom they then asked to rate both the intensity of the itch and the pleasure derived from scratching it. Subjects felt ankle and back itches more intensely than those on their forearms, and they also rated ankle and back scratches higher on the pleasure scale. While pleasure levels dropped off for back and forearm itches as they were scratched, the same wasn’t true for ankle itches—participants still rated pleasurability higher even while the itchy feeling subsided. Perhaps because there’s no peace quite like that of scratching a good itch, the scientists won the Ig Nobel peace prize for their work.

4. ELASTIC INTESTINES HELP WOMBATS CREATE THEIR FAMOUS CUBED POOP.
In the final 8 percent of a wombat’s intestine, feces transform from a liquid-like state into a series of small, solid cubes. Patricia Yang, David Hu, and their team inflated the intestines of two dead wombats with long balloons to discover that this formation is caused by the elastic quality of the intestinal wall, which stretches at certain angles to form cubes. For solving the mystery, Yang and Hu took home the physics award for the second time—they also won in 2015 for testing the theory that all mammals can empty their bladders in about 21 seconds.

5. ROMANIAN MONEY GROWS BACTERIA BETTER THAN OTHER MONEY.
Habip Gedik and father-and-son pair Timothy and Andreas Voss earned the economics prize by growing drug-resistant bacteria on the euro, U.S. dollar, Canadian dollar, Croatian luna, Romanian leu, Moroccan dirham, and Indian rupee. The Romanian leu was the only one to yield all three types of bacteria tested—Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci. The Croatian luna produced none, and the other banknotes each produced one. The results suggest that the Romanian leu was most susceptible to bacteria growth because it was the only banknote in the experiment made from polymers rather than textile-based fibers.

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By the way:

Winners received $10 trillion Zimbabwean dollars, which is virtually worthless, and each was given one minute to deliver an acceptance speech enforced by an 8-year-old girl whining "Please stop. I'm bored."


Audience members toss paper airplanes at the 29th annual Ig Nobel awards ceremony at Harvard University.  Tossing paper planes is an established part of the ceremonies (Carol: please note).

Final thought:
Perhaps the farting study may be part of the 2020 awards.






Saturday, September 28, 2019

Quote for the Day

"We apologise for the error in last week's paper in which we stated that Mr Arnold Dogbody was a defective in the police force. We meant, of course, that Mr Dogbody is a detective in the police farce. 

-- Correction Notice in the Ely Standard, a British newspaper


The Art of the Fart


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The following is an unedited report from The Daily Mail UK, 21 August 2019, at: 



Scientific formula finds the world's funniest flatulence is 'long, loud and ever so slightly wet' 

The 'world's funniest flatulence' has been revealed by scientists in a unique piece of research. The Flatulence Report, for The Beano, has worked out a mathematical formula to find what sort of breaking wind was the most comical. Academics tested for 176 different noises ranging from low to high pitch, short to long, dry to wet and from loud to squeaking. Components in the formula included intensity, length, social embarrassment, the number of children present and the age and gender of whoever hears it. 


Scientist Dr Helen Pilcher (pictured) led the research with the help of 'Beano boffins' and sound specialists Bose Professional +3 

WHAT IS THE FART FORMULA? 
Scientists inputted various factors to determine the comedic value of flatulence 
I = Intensity of the fart (dB) 
L = Length of fart (sec) 
S = Social embarrassment (rated on a scale of 1 to 3) 
k = Number of kids present 
A = Age of the listener (years) 
g = Gender factor: If female, multiply by 1.05 

The funniest fart came out on top in a public vote with a mean score of 8.27 out of 10 - also being described as 'unfortunate' and 'potentially messy'. 

Scientist Dr Helen Pilcher led the research with the help of 'Beano boffins' and sound specialists Bose Professional. She said: 'The funniest fart is long, loud and ever so slightly wet. This gives it the potential to cause major social embarrassment. 'The research and our formula show how funny farts are. It's as simple as that. Anyone who says they've never farted or found a fart funny has pants that are probably on fire.' 

The study found farts are likely to be found 5 per cent funnier by men than women, with children also finding them 23 per cent funnier than adults. Young adults in the 18-24 age group were the least amused. 

Mike Stirling, editorial director of Beano Studios, said: 'We hired some genuine boffins to prove it, by helping us release the funniest fart of all time - you know, for science.' 

Components in the formula included intensity, length, social embarrassment, the number of children present and the age and gender of whoever hears it. Academics tested for 176 different noises ranging from low to high pitch, short to long, dry to wet and from loud to squeaking to find the funniest forms of breaking wind. 

Want to hear the world's funniest fart, as well as getting the fill story of the above research?  Click on:


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Some more fart items . . . 

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The Queen was showing the Archbishop of Canterbury around the royal stable, when one of the stallions close by farted so loudly it couldn't be ignored. "Oh dear," said the Queen, "How embarrassing. I'm frightfully sorry about that." "It's quite understandable," said the Archbishop, and after a moment, added, "as a matter of fact. I thought it was the horse."

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There was a young lady called Carter, 
A world champion musical farter. 
To public applause 
She'd pull down her drawers 
And play Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" 

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And here’s something dedicated to Noel, a great farter father-in-law. . . .



Friday, September 27, 2019

Thought for the Day




Funny Friday

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Discussing the matter of memory with someone today also gave me the theme for today’s Funny Friday, so have some fun with . . . with . . . whatever. 

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Some jokes about memory . . . 

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A man and his family walk into a bar. Inside of the bar, the man's youngest child sees a Native American sitting under a sign stating "World's longest memory". 

The child walks up and decides to test if this sign is true. 

The child asks, "What did you have for breakfast 30 years ago?" 

The Native American states "Eggs." 

The child states that the native could have just made that up, and then later leaves the bar. 

Years later, when the child returns back with his own family he sees the same native at the bar. 

Walking up to the man, he states a stereotypical, "How?!" 

The Native replies, "Scrambled." 

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A naturopathic doctor opens up a wellness clinic 
He puts a sign outside that says 'GET TREATMENT FOR $20 - IF NOT CURED, GET BACK $100.' 
A lawyer thinks this is a great opportunity to earn $100 and goes to the clinic. 
Lawyer: "I have lost my sense of taste." 
Doctor: "Nurse, bring medicine from box No. 22 and put 3 drops in patient's mouth." 
Lawyer: "Ugh. this is kerosene." 
Doctor: "Congrats, your sense of taste is restored. Give me $20." 
The annoyed lawyer goes back after a few days to recover his money. 
Lawyer: "I have lost my memory. I cannot remember anything." 
Doctor: "Nurse, bring medicine from box no. 22 and put 3 drops in his mouth." 
Lawyer (annoyed): "This is kerosene. You gave this to me last time for restoring my taste." 
Doctor: "Congrats. You got your memory back. Give me $20." 
The fuming lawyer pays him, and then comes back a week later determined to get back $100. 
Lawyer: "My eyesight has become very weak I can't see at all." 
Doctor: "Well, I don't have any medicine for that, so take this $100." 
Lawyer (staring at the bill): "But this is $20, not $100!!" 
Doctor: "Congrats, your eyesight is restored. Give me $20." 

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What do we want? 
Better memory!! 
When do we want it? 
Want what?? 

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Three elderly men are at the doctor's office for a memory test. The doctor asks the first man, "What is three times three?" 

The man thought for a moment and answered, "274." 

The doctor rolls his eyes and looks up at the ceiling, and says to the second man, "It's your turn. What is three times three?" 

"Tuesday," replies the second man. 

The doctor shakes his head sadly, then asks the third man, "Okay, your turn. What's three times three?" 

The third man quickly answers, "Nine." 

"That's great!" says the doctor. "How did you get that?" 

"Simple," he says, "just subtract 274 from Tuesday." 

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From the vault . . . 

A group of guys, all aged about 40, discussed where they should meet for lunch 

Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the waitresses there were pretty. 

Ten years later, at age 50, the friends once again discussed where they should meet for lunch.Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the food was good and the wine selection was excellent. 

Ten years later, at age 60, the friends again discussed where they should meet for lunch.Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean View restaurant because they could dine in peace and quiet and the restaurant had a beautiful view of the ocean. 

Ten years later, at age 70, the friends discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the restaurant was wheelchair accessible and had an elevator. 

Ten years later, at age 80, the friends discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean View restaurant because they had never been there before. 

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Limerick of the week . . . 

There was a young lady from Thrace, 
Whose corsets grew too tight to lace. 
Her mother said, "Nelly, 
There's more in your belly, 
Than ever went in through your face!" 

Alternative version: 

There was a young lady of Louth, 
Who returned from a trip in the South; 
Her father said: ‘Nelly, 
There’s more in your belly 
Than ever went in at your mouth.’ 

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Gallery . . . 









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Corn Corner . . . 

There was an old man who lived by a forest. As he grew older and older, he started losing his hair, until one day, on his deathbed, he was completely bald. That day, he called his children to a meeting. 

He said, "Look at my hair. It used to be so magnificent, but it's completely gone now. My hair can't be saved. But look outside at the forest. It's such a lovely forest with so many trees, but sooner or later they'll all be cut down and this forest will look as bald as my hair." 

"What I want you to do," the man continued, "is, every time a tree is cut down or dies, plant a new one in my memory. Tell your descendants to do the same. It shall be our family's duty to keep this forest strong." 

So they did. Each time the forest lost a tree, the children replanted one, and so did their children, and their children after them. And for centuries, the forest remained as lush and pretty as it once was, all because of one man and his re-seeding heirline.

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My dad suffers from short term memory loss... 

I hope it doesn't run in the family because my dad has it too. 

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My earliest childhood memory is going to the eye doctor when I was 8. 

Life before that is a blur.


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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Quote for the Day




I Read the News Today, Oh Boy . . .


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A woman at a truck stop at Gross Tete, about 20 minutes outside Baton Rouge in Louisiana, ended up in a barney with a camel named Caspar. The woman entered Caspar’s enclosure to retrieve her dog when Caspar sat down on her. She says that she did the only thing possible - in self defence she bit Caspar’s testicles. 

Not so, said Deputy Sheriff Hamilton, the unidentified woman and her husband had provoked the camel before he sat on the woman. Furthermore: 

- There were signs every3 metres warning people not to enter the enclosure, plus there was a barbed wire fence that the couple had to crawl under to gain entry. 

- The couple admitted having been there before. 

- Their dog had entered the camel’s enclosure because the husband had been throwing doggie treats under the fence into the enclosure. 

- There had been no problems with Caspar before. 

- The man shoved the camel in the enclosure and swatted it with his hat. 

The couple was cited with a leash law violation for letting the dog run free on the private property, as well as criminal trespassing. 

Caspar, meanwhile, is walking gingerly. 

Source: 
News.com 
25 September 2019 

It reminds me of the following joke: 

A Russian and an Irish wrestler were set to square off for the Olympic gold medal. Before the final match, the Irish wrestler's trainer came to him and said, "Now, don't forget all the research we've done on this Russian. He's never lost a match because of this 'pretzel' hold he has. It ties you up in knots. Whatever you do, do not let him get you in that hold! If he does, you're finished." 

The Irishman nodded in acknowledgment. As the match started, the Irishman and the Russian circled each other several times, looking for an opening. All of a sudden, the Russian lunged forward, grabbing the Irishman and wrapping him up in the dreaded pretzel hold. A sigh of disappointment arose from the crowd and the trainer buried his face in his hands, for he knew all was lost. He couldn't watch the inevitable happen. 

Suddenly, there was a Long, High Pitched Scream, then a cheer from the crowd and the trainer raised his eyes just in time to watch the Russian go flying up in the air. His back hit the mat with a thud and the Irishman collapsed on top of him, making the pin and winning the match. 

The trainer was astounded. When he finally got his wrestler alone, he asked, "How did you ever get out of that hold? No one has ever done it before!" 

The wrestler answered, "Well, I was ready to give up when he got me in that hold but at the last moment, I opened my eyes and saw this pair of testicles right in front of my face. I had nothing to lose so with my last ounce of strength, I stretched out my neck and bit those babies just as hard as I could." 

The trainer exclaimed, "Oh, so that's what finished him off?!!" 

"Not really. You'd be amazed how strong you get when you bite your own balls." 

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Overseas readers may have heard it said that everything is bigger in Oz, as well as more deadly. Here is an example . . . 

Snake catchers have caught a FBS (big snake) in Brisbane in Queensland. The snake, a 1.8m member of the imaginatively named red-bellied black snake, was described as “abnormally large”. 


If that doesn’t freak you out, the following might . . . 

Snake catcher Bryce Lockett said “They’re generally a very placid snake, they aren’t really defensive, During breeding season male snakes tend to travel some distance looking for a mate. We’re being called out to a lot of carpet pythons fighting in people’s roof cavities.” 

Source:
News.com 
Septrember 25, 2019 

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New South Wales has been in a major drought since mid 2017. Nowhere is the FBD (big drought) more keenly felt than in the regional areas, a prime example being Dubbo, located 303km (188 miles) northwest of Sydney. 

The situation is so dire in Dubbo that restrictions are being introduced to limit showers to 5 minutes and fines for wshing cars or watering gardens after midday. 

Some Dubbo pics: 

Dubbo from the air 

The Burrendong dam in the state's central west is at just 4.4 per cent capacity as 99 per cent of New South Wales suffers from one of the worst droughts in living memory. 

Dubbo Airport 

Dubbo (looks like the pics sent back by Mars Rover)

Source:
Daily Mail
23 September 2019

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MacGyver Award of the Week (dated from July 2019 but only just seen by me) 

In what must be considered a FGI (great idea), Colorado police say a driver tried to replace a broken tail light with a red sports drink. Denver news station KMGH-TV reported that Longmont police stopped a driver who placed a red-colored bottled drink where his car's rear light should have been. Authorities say the driver was on his way to get the tail light fixed when officers stopped him in Longmont, 38 miles north of Denver. Officials say officers didn't ticket the driver, who was seen repairing his car later that day. Police say tail lights prevent crashes and "while we appreciate the ingenuity of this taillight, this is not a permanent solution." 


Source: 
Fox News 
26 July 2019 

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A driver came back to his car in Adelaide to find the rear covered by thousands of bees: 


An apiarist commented that swarms of bees landing on cars in Adelaide were simply resting after gorging themselves on nectar before taking flight to create a new hive. Bee swarms will travel once their hive is overcrowded and travel 200–300 metres before resting. Spring is the time of year that bees are more active 

South Australian Apiarists Association president Josh Kennett said "If you're in a bit of a hurry — if you're game enough, sweep them off into the gutter and then drive off.” 

Yeah, right.

Source
ABC News
25 September 2019



Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Quote for the Day



Animal Oddities


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The following is an email sent to me by Graham, with some additional pics and comments from moi . . .

Thanks Graham, see you at trivia tonight.

😊

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Hi Mr O,

After coming across another amazing animal story, I thought you may find some of them interesting πŸ€”

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The salt mining elephants of Kenya.


On Mount Elgon, however, the only natural source of salt is more obscure – it is found in deep, natural caves in the side of the mountain. Herds of elephant enter these caves, and walk as far as 15 meters into the pitch darkness to find a salt seam in the rock.


Additional comments:

Tusking the rock for salt


In Mount Elgon National Park on the Kenya-Uganda border, elephants have learned to quarry sodium-rich rocks on the base of a 24-million-years-old extinct volcano called Mount Elgon. The elephants use their tusks to break off pieces of the cave wall, which they then chew and swallow, leaving long scratch marks all over the cave walls. The elephants chisel the rocks for several hours and eat large quantities of salt at a time, since they usually do not return until several weeks later. The elephants have a voracious appetite for salt. One young bull elephant at the Aberdare National Park in Kenya was observed to consume 14 to 20 kg of salty soil in 45 minutes.

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The clay eating parrots of Peru.


You may or may not have heard of the famous clay licks in the Amazon rainforest: exotic parrots gather here daily to eat the clay, creating the perfect destination for travellers to observe the dozens (sometimes hundreds) of individual birds that flock here.


Additional comments:


Originally it was thought that the clay might help remove toxins, such as naturally occurring tannins, that the birds ingest from plants.  More recently, studies show that the birds in Peru may be using the reddish-brown muck to help augment a sodium-poor diet, that the western Amazon basin is lacking in salt. The farther an area is from the ocean, the more its rain may lack salt, plus in inland areas with high rainfall, sodium may leach out of the soil.

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The dam climbing ibex of Italy.


Each day the Alpine ibex goats, which typically live in very steep and rocky terrain at altitudes of up to 4,600 metres, climb the sheer drop dam like it's nothing, just to lick saltpetre and other minerals off the walls.


 Additional comments:

I have written about these dam goats (ha ha) previously, click on the following link for that post:




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The Fainting Goats of Tennessee.


The Tennessee Fainting Goat goes by many names—Myotonic Goat, Nervous Goat, Wooden Leg—and receives its claim to fame from its strange habit of falling down stiff when startled.


 Additional comments:

See a video of the fainting goats by clicking on:

Myotonic goats are known as “fainting goats” because when something surprises or frightens them, their muscles go stiff for a short time, and they fall over! The reaction doesn’t hurt, and it’s not really fainting. Usually the animal stays awake and just bounces back up once the stiffness goes away. The locking up is caused by a rare genetic disorder called myotonia congenita. It makes the goats’ skeletal muscles, especially in their back legs, suddenly tighten up and then slowly loosen again. Lots of other animals can have this condition too, including people, horses, dogs, cats, and mice.


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The sand bubbler crabs of Thailand.


Like a lot of the most fascinating art forms, particularly ones that use nature as its medium, the sand bubblers delicate creations are fleeting, each time high tide returns, their sand ball arrays crumble and are washed away.


 Additional comments:

Sand bubbler crabs (or sand-bubblers) are small crabs that live on sandy beaches in the tropical Indo-Pacific. They feed by filtering sand through their mouthparts, leaving behind balls of sand that are disintegrated by the incoming high tide.





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The butterflies of Rhodes.


The Valley of Butterflies, also known as Petaloudes Valley, on the western side of the Greek island of Rhodes, is home to thousands of butterflies of the Jersey Tiger Moth who make their annual appearance after the rainy season.


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The Oriental sweetgum trees in Petaloudes Valley give off a scent that attracts the moths and creates a unique biotope. Owing to the increased number of visitors, the Euplagia are facing population issues as they have no stomach and when disturbed tend to fly frequently and thus deplete their energy.


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The snow monkeys of Japan.


The park is home to over 150 wild Japanese monkeys (Japanese Macaques) or often called Snow Monkeys. At the park site, there is a pool with natural hot spring where monkeys bathe just like a human.


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Jigokudani Monkey Park was founded by Sogo Hara in 1964 in an attempt to keep local macaques from harm.

Monkeys have lived in this area of Japan for a long time, but sixty years ago, their home in the forest was threatened. Trees were being cut down to build ski lifts for resorts, and as the monkeys’ habitat began to shrink, they travelled towards Jigokudani, otherwise known as the Valley of Hell.

Why such a dramatic name? This area of the country is full of mountains and volcanic activity, which means that in the winter, you can witness huge plumes of steam emanating from the hot springs that pool around this region.

As the monkeys moved closer to humans, they found themselves within a short distance of several farms. Suddenly, food was in plentiful supply, and the macaques were all about stealing the farmer’s apples. These farmers, unsurprisingly disgruntled, went on to petition the government about the situation, and were granted permission to kill the monkeys in order to protect their land.

When Sogo Hara found out about this, he created Jigokudani Monkey Park to keep the monkeys from harm. For months on end, he’d place apples in a nearby valley beside a hot spring, until eventually, the monkeys learned to stick around and avoid the farmland they’d been tearing apart.

And as for the whole bathing in an onsen thing? At some point, the apples in the valley began to fall into a nearby hot spring, and the monkeys started taking a dip into the water to fish them out. Macaques had not, until this point, ever been observed in onsens, but it turned out they kind of liked being warm in the winter.

And so a tourist attraction was born.



 

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The tree climbing goats of Morocco.


Found in the small village of Tamri in Morocco, these goats climb Argan trees in search for food. Argan berries are about the best food a Tamri goat could imagine, and to reach the fruit requires them to be adept in an extraordinary balancing act that’s quite unexpected from a hoofed animal.


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