Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Dramatic End

"Every child should have mudpies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hayfields, pinecones, rocks to roll, sand snakes, huckleberries and hornets. Any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education." Luther Burbank, 1849-1926

About a year and a half ago, Chelsea received this unique gift as a joke from a caring cousin who was thinking of her as he strolled through an exotic bug show in Salt Lake. It was a Vietnamese Centipede. You most likely have never seen one of these unless you have been to our house or the Hogle Zoo. They are a very interesting arthropod that eats crickets, cock roaches, and yes, even baby mice. They are large, aggressive, and medically significant. They are found throughout the worlds' tropical and subtropical regions, especially in Southeast Asia.

"The Vietnamese Centipede is the only species that has a human death attributed to it. The only reported fatal case was in the Philippines; the centipede bit a seven-year old girl on her head, and she lived for another 29 hours. Even though death from a bite of the Vietnamese Centipede is almost unheard of, the venom is said to cause extreme pain, therefore you want to exercise care with this centipede."

The person who sold it to cousin Steele said that in his military experience, he had been shot with a gun and stung by one of these critters. Between the two, he would take the gunshot any day because it was less painful. Wow.

You can imagine my horror/delight when Chelsea moved home and brought the "thing" with her. My biggest fear was that its cage might get knocked off the shelf or carelessly left open. Or perhaps when feeding it or changing its water or bark, it might escape or bite.

Chelsea lined the cage with about two inches of shredded bark. Sometimes when walking by the cage you would think that there was nothing inside because the centipede would burrow itself deep down under the bark with not a piece of it showing. Pretty freaky.

Sometimes when Chelsea would feed it, Mr. V.C. would lunge on the food very aggressively, clasping it with eight or so of its legs and pass it right on up its legs until it reached its mouth, sswallowing the food whole.

I had a love/hate relationship with this "thing." I hated it because it was such a dangerous, disgusting looking arthropod for which I felt responsible and liable, but I loved watching it because it was so interesting.

Its cage sat on top of a bookcase in the library about chest high. Each time I walked through the library to the craft room (which is many, many times a day), I would watch it. And I would stare at it to see what it was doing. I didn't realize how much time I spent looking at it until Chelsea moved back to Salt Lake and took the "thing" with her. I suddenly realized how much I missed it and enjoyed observing it. Oh my. I felt a void in my life, believe it or not!

When she returned Mr. V.C. and its cage last fall to be in a warmer environment through the winter, I felt the love/hate thing all over. And once again I watched it, fascinated by all those legs and mean pincers in front and back.

Well, two days ago, Chelsea and I noticed some strange behavior in the cage. Mr. V.C. began marking the perimeter of the whole cage with a clear fluid like substance, much like a dog would mark territory in the forest. We watched it on and off throughout the evening. We had never seen it act like this.

Chelsea left to go back to Salt Lake and I kept an eye on it. Shortly after she left, it extended itself along one side of the cage (about 10-12 inches long), laid on its back and rested. In some of its legs it clutched a piece of wood - why, I don't know. I sprinkled a bit of water on it to see if it was still alive. It was for a while, but the next morning, it was gone. Like a bad dream. Toast. Never to bite or worry about again.

It was an interesting "pet" in a sense, and we learned alot. Its behaviors were fascinating. But now, I can sigh in relief. RIP, Mr. V.C. 2/26/12.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Like Clever People

I really enjoy fun, clever people who are witty and smart. This posting made me chuckle.

C, an E-flat, and G go into a bar. The bartender says: "Sorry, but we don't serve minors." So, the E-flat leaves, and the C and the G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished: the G is out flat.

An F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough. A D comes into the bar and heads straight for the bathroom saying, "Excuse me, I'll just be a second."

An A comes into the bar, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor. Then the bartender notices a B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and exclaims: "Get out now! You're the seventh minor I've found in this bar tonight." The E-flat, not easily deflated, comes back to the bar the next night in a 3-piece suit with nicely shined shoes.

The bartender (who used to have a nice corporate job until his company downsized) says: "You're looking sharp tonight, come on in! This could be a major development."

This proves to be the case, as the E-flat takes off the suit and stands there au natural. Eventually, the C sobers up and realizes in horror that he's under a rest. The C is brought to trial, is found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of DS without Coda at an upscale correctional facility.

On appeal, however, the C is found innocent of any wrongdoing, even accidental, and that all accusations to the contrary are bassless. The bartender decides, however,
that since he's only had tenor so patrons, the soprano out in the bathroom, and everything has become alto much treble, he needs a rest and closes the bar.