Saturday, September 29, 2007


Oh, crud.There really isn't any good reason to put this picture here. I just like using Brian Fies's stuff to decorate my blog.

You know how you hate internet chain letters? You know how you delete them as soon as their scent hits your monitor?

Well, I missed one until it was too late, until it had already burrowed its way through my eyeballs and on back into my brain. It disguised itself as a message from Chris Clarke, so I should have known better.

And if he doesn't add me to his Blogroll after this, well then, I'll, I'll, I'll... well I'll just spit, you know, and shuffle on over to Theriomorph's blog, hands clasped behind the small of my back and lower lip protruded far enough to support the OED. Grumbling something about "young jack of all asses" all the way.

It's a meme. And, after I'm done, I have to tag nine people in public to propagate the damn' thing. No fair scrolling down to the bottom to see if your name is there before you read what's in between. HEY! I SAID NO FAIR DOING THAT!

Okay, here goes:


An interesting animal I had

Animals (plural), actually, and still have (not just had): chickens. Interesting not for any kind of rarity, of course (they may be the most numerous domestic critters, after all), but interesting because they are, actually, interesting. When Mrs. Fort first suggested six years ago that we should have some chickens clucking around the compound, I thought they would be, fundamentally, ambulatory vegetables. Some of them are, but many have proven to have actual personalities. Some are talkative, some are silent. Some are smart (for chickens), others are dumb as compost. Some are tough, some are wimpy. None are in any way intimidated by our dogs and cats, because they have sharp beaks and bigger claws. Look here and here and here for more detailed looks at our girls.

An interesting animal I ate

A yellowjacket. Unintentionally. In 1963 while riding my bike into town for a baseball game that I never arrived at. Heartburn does not faze me now.

An interesting animal in the Museum

Me (if we can accept "boneheaded" as a legitimate subset of "interesting").

It was probably about 1977 or '78. I was shepherding my boys, then age 7 and 11 or thereabouts, around the California Academy of Sciences. It was probably a weekend, since I remember the place being jammed.

At that time, the glass enclosures for the snakes were between the stuffed-animal dioramas and the aquarium. We paused to admire a pair of rattlesnakes, who, less than pleased with all the attention, were backed up against the rear of their enclosure, tails a-vibrating. The glass was too thick (and the crowd noise too loud) for their rattle to be audible, though.

I had never heard a rattlesnake's rattle, and really wanted to hear it. So I did what any idiot would do: I bent down, put my ear to the glass, and...


... both snakes struck like lightning at the glass. An eighth of an inch from my right ear.

I must have jumped -- I can't imagine any other transport mechanism, but I can't testify to it -- eight feet away from the wall of cages in that instant. It took a good three days for the adrenaline to flush completely out of my system. I'd say that it diminished me in my sons' eyes, but, jeez, they had plenty of other things to do that for them, anyway.

As unnerving and embarrassing as it was for me, it must have been worse for the snakes. Pounding your teeth at high velocity against unyielding glass can't be a wonderful experience.

An interesting thing I did with or to an animal

Chickens, again. I now know how to inject chickens with medication via hypodermic needles, not something I ever thought I'd know how to do. Sadly, I also know now that it's generally futile: once a pet chicken shows signs of disease or disability, it's usually too late to do anything about it. As the most prey-like of prey animals, they can't afford to show any
hint of vulnerability, so once they do so, they're pretty much done. One of our chickens just absolutely, literally stopped just before she died; she was apparently fully functional one second and immobile the next.

An interesting animal in its natural habitat

A black widow spider in my potting shed, two summers ago. It bit me.

But that's not the interesting part. What's interesting is the response of my HMO, Kaiser, to my call after I'd been bitten. I had the 'phone on my shoulder while consulting the web about black widow bites (I'd never been bitten before). As I talked to the "advice nurse" on the 'phone line, I was simultaneously getting actual, useful information from Google. Not so from the "advice nurse." She wanted to know if my address had changed in the past six months. Google told me that any adverse effects of the bite might not show up for three hours. She wanted to know if I had any drug allergies. Google told me not to elevate the bite site above my heart. She wanted to know what my Kaiser record number was. Google told me that a significant fraction of black widow bites are "dry": no venom. She wanted to know, again, if I had any drug allergies.

I hung up. But I stayed online.

Turned out to be a dry bite.


And the people I "tag" are these: (you can respond on your own blog -- if any -- or on the comments thread here, but, in either case, you should link back to Chris's blog just because he deserves it.)

Adam Harrington
Brian Fies
Dann Todd
Lucile Taber
Lyndell Blankenship
Mike Peterson
Carolina Ruth
The inimitable ronniecat
Ronnie Peterson


Mike said...

"It's a meme. And, after I'm done, I have to tag nine people in public to propagate the damn' thing."

Hm. Whence this sense of compulsion?

And a Netiquette question: How many smilies are required to offset the suggestion of an on-line intervention? ;-) :-) :-P

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Hey, a fun chainletter-type thingy! We're loading the car right now for a much-needed trip to the mountains, but when i get back i won't forget that i've been tagged.

Chris Clarke said...

FINE. Jeez.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Mike asks: "Whence this sense of compulsion?" Because Chris told me to, and his myrmidons are legion.

A very tiny change can be fun, though; you can change it from an an-imeme to an ann-coultermeme by replacing the word "animal" with "liberal" in the questions. I don't know about the answers, but it sure makes the questions funnier.

Chris: the "inside joke" still makes me laugh out loud, literally, not netslangishly. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You have reached heights to which I cannot hope to aspire. Sadly, I will never know the rapturous joy of being on Chris' Blogroll.

I will accept being tagged with as much humility as I can muster. The only real question is will I be able to respond with the sort of inspired wit and wisdom evidenced within your demesnes?

Brian Fies said...

Damn you and your tag, Harrington. I'm not sure I can play along, as the most interesting answers that spring to mind are "dog" and "cat." I'll spend all day thinking hard about it, though. Beats working.

ronnie said...

Neener neener, mine's done!