18 April 2010

Uncompelling Mysteries: Wild Kingdom

Q: What does a tortoise say?
A: According to my two-year-old flatmate, a tortoise says, "Haaaaaach ... ptoo!"  So I guess they have congestion.  She also authoritatively stated that the noise a pirate makes is, "Arrrrrrrrr."

16 April 2010

You Don't Know Me, Apple

I am taking an insanely detailed feedback survey about how I use the MacBook I bought right before I came over here, because my old one got a terminal diagnosis like a week before I was scheduled to move overseas.  Good times.  The survey has just asked me how often I use my computer to view video "at home: on the couch" and then "at home: in bed".  As I am currently taking the survey in bed, I suspect they are using the integrated webcam to spy on me.

I'll know for sure if the next questions are, "Are you seriously eating peanuts at 11:45 pm?" "How concerned are you about choking on them, seeing as how you're 75% horizontal?" and "Is that one of the Little House books in German behind you?"  (Answers: Yes, somewhat concerned, and yes, but for some reason On the Banks of Plum Creek is titled Laura und ihre Freunde instead of Laura am Pflaumenbach in the pattern of the rest of the series' translations.  Oh, and Landwirtjunge has been left out entirely, which is too bad, because I like the bit where the pig gets its teeth stuck together with poorly-made candy.)

10 April 2010

ODs A-Go-Go

Funny story, or possibly tale of the macabre, depending on your point of view:

In the 1905 hospital records I'm reading, there are all of a sudden a rash of poisonings with (from? by? I'm not sure which is the proper preposition) a variety of substances, including but not limited to: lead, phosporus, alcohol, opium, and cocaine.  Don't worry, that's not the funny part.  There was also a "ptomaine poisoning," which is obviously not the same sort of poisoning but made me think about how my parents used to refer to any shady restaurant as a "ptomaine palace" and how I really should find more excuses to use that term, because alliteration is funny.  Which is all beside the point.

I clearly had to include some of this poisoning outbreak in my research, as it is an unexpected trend in admissions, and also because earnest, bougie Edwardian doctors interacting with druggies is sure to produce hilarious results (but not sexy results, more's the pity), even though the doctors were probably all on laudanum themselves.  And you know what?  Hypothesis: proven.  From the cocaine poisoning case: "he kept constantly grabbing at all pieces of paper his eyes fell on.  He only wanted them to put them in the fire."  Heeeeeee.  It's the sniffy tone of it that kills me.  You have to wonder how many pieces of paper were snatched, and how important they were, before the doctor thought, "I say, he only wants them to put them in the fire!"  He is out of his everloving mind on cocaine (and whiskey, brandy, and beer, reportedly).  Clearly, he doesn't want the paper for any useful purpose, such as jotting a quick missive to the local newspaper regarding the state of the roads, or origami.  The ancient Japanese art of paper-folding being a second use to which the paper might be put, I mean, not a second subject upon which one might write to the newspaper.  But I'm not here to judge.  After all, the next day, "He said he wanted away as he had business to attend to."

Interesting side note: dude had injected the cocaine, as he had done for the past seven years.  Only 45 years after the modern syringe and the drug itself were invented.  But maybe he was just a Sherlock Holmes fan.  Or had just purchased a handy kit from Parke-Davis for the purpose.  Or appreciated Pope Leo XIII's endorsement of cocaine-laced wine.  All this after some nutjob tried it out as a ophthalmic anaesthetic by instilling it into his own eye, which he then pricked with pins.  A general thumbs-up from the medical community greeted the knowledge that a drug had been discovered that would allow one to painlessly poke one's own eyes with sharp objects.  How could over-the-counter use not follow closely behind?

(Image via Wikipedia)