Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Six More Weeks

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

I’m feeling much better today thanks to a steady regimen of Emergen-C, cranberry juice, Day and/or Nyquil, and about 8-9 hours of rest. However, Nyquil did its thing last night…and I had another weird dream to share. Around 4 AM, I woke up (the Nyquil had worn off or something) so I got up to get a drink of cranberry juice & blow my nose (this part really happened). I forgot to snag my robe in my haste…so it got cold quick (fireplace is off at night). After getting the drink, I scurried back into bed, still warm from my man-heat and sat there for a few minutes. Then I noticed that the power went out for a few seconds…and the digital clock was flashing. No worries. I have my cell phone set with the alarm too for just this occasion, so I doze off. A few minutes later, I’m startled by something. I sit up…and the clock’s still flashing…but it’s light outside, like it’s about 9 AM. “Oh sh*t, I’m late for work.” Just then, I hear a low rumbling, so I glance to my right. I don’t remember my bed being this big. It’s like twice as big as normal…and there’s a wave of blanket rolling towards me. Odd. Well, it gets to me…and who pops out from under it? My roommate. “Dude, what the f**k?” Then poof, he’s gone. Behind him at the door by my bed is…some chubby preteen kid with glasses and a blonde mullet or something that I’ve never seen before with his arms full of DVDs. “Hey $teve, can I borrow these?” He’s literally holding like twenty box sets, one hand down by his knees, the other on top over his head. “What? No dude. You shouldn’t be watching that much TV anyway.” “Fine, how about just this one then? (Inglorious Basterds)” “As much as I’d like you to watch that fine film, I don’t think you’re old enough just yet.” “Whatever.” He set them all down in the doorway and walks off. It was about this time that I hopped out of bed to get ready for work…which led me to wake up, wrapped in my blankets…at about 4:30 AM…and the digital clock was just fine. Basically everything from the power going out onward was just a kooky dream. Awesome, right? Yeah, didn’t think so…but I’m sharing. Now let’s talk about animals…

Groundhog Day - Punxsutawney Phil had his big day today. This year though…it was a little different. About two hours after the famous groundhog "saw" his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter, the rodent's inaugural stab at text-messaging appeared (see PETA? He may already BE a robot). Phil also sent a Twitter update at about that time (a lame robot). Officials with the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club didn't immediately return calls about Phil's texting skills. German tradition holds that if a hibernating animal sees its shadow on February 2nd (the Christian holiday of Candlemas) winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says spring will come early. The Inner Circle annually announces Phil's forecast at dawn on Gobbler's Knob, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh (told you Gobbler’s Knob was a real place). So there you go America, another month-and-a-half of winter for everybody. YAY!!! (Cough cough sniffle sniffle) YIPPEE!!! But wait, is that for all America…or just the continental 48 states?

Marmot Day - Alaska now has its own version of Groundhog Day. Then-Governor Sarah Palin signed a bill last year to make every February 2nd Marmot Day in Alaska. The bill was introduced by Senator Linda Menard, a Wasilla Republican. Because groundhogs are not common in Alaska, Menard says it made sense for the marmot to become Alaska's version of Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvania groundhog famed for his winter weather forecasts. Menard's bill didn't give marmots any weather forecasting duties, but she hopes the state will create educational activities around the animal. Whataya know? Palin did do something during her brief stint as governor. Anyway, I guess this marks the first official Marmot Day in Alaska…but I sincerely doubt that kids are learning about them today. Also, what’s the critter’s name? Wasilla Wally? Mac the Marmot? It just seems kind of weird that you would take Groundhog Day…and switch it to Marmot Day. I mean…it’s kinda like, “Okay kids, today’s President’s Day…but since Alaska has never been the birthplace of a President, we’re gonna rename it Sarah Palin Day & learn all about her prestigious career of leadership. Now, if you’ll open your pamphlet…” Anyway, best of luck to Alaska…and I’m pretty sure they’d get 6 extra weeks of winter anyway.

Tru Meowing – Since we’re talking about animals with magical abilities to predict the future, here’s another tale of intrigue. When doctors and staff realized that a cat living in a nursing home could sense when someone was going to die, the feline, Oscar, was portrayed as a furry grim reaper or four-legged angel of death. But Dr. David Dosa, who broke the news of Oscar's abilities in a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, said he never intended to make Oscar sound creepy or his arrival at a bedside to be viewed negatively. Dosa said he hopes his newly released book, "Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat" will put the cat in a more favorable light as well as providing a book to help people whose loved ones are terminally ill. "After the New England Journal article you got the feeling that if Oscar is in your bed then you are dead, but you did not really see what is going on for these family members," said Dosa, an assistant professor of medicine at Brown University. "I wanted to write a book that would go beyond Oscar's peculiarities, to tell why he is important to family members and caregivers who have been with him at the end of a life." Dosa said Oscar's story is fascinating on many levels (yeah, I’ll bet). Oscar was adopted as a kitten from an animal shelter to be raised as a therapy cat at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, which cares for people with severe dementia and in the final stages of various illnesses. When Oscar was about six months old the staff noticed that he would curl up to sleep with patients who were about to die. So far he has accurately predicted about 50 deaths. Dosa recounts one instance when staff were convinced of the imminent death of one patient but Oscar refused to sit with that person, choosing instead to be on the bed of another patient down the hallway. Oscar proved to be right. The person he sat with died first, taking staff on the ward by surprise (for some reason). Dosa said there is no scientific evidence to explain Oscar's abilities, but he thinks the cat might be responding to a pheromone or smell that humans simply don't recognize. Dosa said his main interest was not to delve further into Oscar's abilities but to use Oscar as a vehicle to tell about terminal illness, which is his main area of work. "There is a lot to tell about what Oscar does, but there is a lot to tell on the human level of what family members go through at the end of life when they are dealing with a loved one in a nursing home or with advanced dementia. Perhaps the book is a little more approachable because there is a cat in it. We really know so little about nursing homes, and this tries to get rid of this myth that they are horrid factories where people go to die." Dosa said the story of Oscar, who is now nearly five years old, initially had sparked a bit more interest in families wanting to send their loved ones to Steere House. Oscar has even been thanked by families in obituaries for providing some comfort in the final hours of life. But he said Oscar remains unchanged by the attention, spending most of his days staring out of a window, although he has become a bit friendlier. "The first time I met Oscar he bit me. We have warmed over the years. We have moved into a better place," said Dosa. "I don't think Oscar is that unique, but he is in a unique environment. Animals are remarkable in their ability to see things we don't, be it the dog that sniffs out cancer or the fish that predicts earthquakes. Animals know when they are needed." Hmm, perhaps the patients dying has something to do with the feline. Allergies? Interfering with instruments? MURDER? (Dun dun duuuuh…) Nobody ever suspects the cat. It’s the perfect crime. Motive? Who knows? The shelter can do crazy things to a cat when they’re on the inside. He was so young too. He obviously had a violent streak, attacking Dr. Dosa from the get go. Whatever it may be, I say keep an eye on that furry feline. He’s hiding something…and it’s not his dookie under the sand either.

Amsterdam Update – You know this entry would turn eventually. The Internet potentially will lose one of its main sources of bestiality videos under a ban approved Tuesday by the upper house of the Dutch parliament. The new law bans human sex with animals, including in private situations where the animals are not injured, and prohibits the production or distribution of animal pornography, a summary of the law posted on the upper chamber's website said. Given the illicit nature of the product, precise figures on animal pornography video sales are difficult to find, but the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, in a 2007 survey, found that distributors in the Netherlands were responsible for some 80% of bestiality videos worldwide. The bill was introduced in April 2007 and passed the lower house in July 2008, but took time to make its way through the upper house to final approval. It was not immediately clear how soon the law would go into effect. Oh yeah, it’s true. Sex with animals had been legal in the Netherlands, as long as it could be proven the animals were not injured…or at least liked it. “Look! She kicked twice for Yes. What more do you want from Cupcake? A written document?” Yet another step to the middle for the Netherlands and the city of Amsterdam. Heck, if I don’t get over there soon, I may miss out on being able to walk around with a beer out on the street (thank you Utah). Not that I’d want to partake in bestiality…but it’s nice to know that it’s on the menu. Don’t you dare judge me. I’ve seen what you search for on the web. Now you’re about to lose 80% of it. Hope you know Spanish.

Sexual Frustration: Not Just for Individuals - Sexual frustration amongst migrant workers in China's booming southern province of Guangdong is leading to a host of social problems and must be tackled, state media on Saturday cited a local official as saying. Guangdong, China's export powerhouse, is home to about 30 million migrant workers, the most in the country. Many leave wives, husbands or children in their native villages to seek the higher wages factories pay compared with agricultural work. The China Daily quoted Zhang Feng, head of Guangdong's provincial commission of population and family planning, as saying these migrant workers suffered from "severe sexual repression." "Sexually transmitted diseases are spreading faster among migrant workers, whose sex lives have long been neglected," Zhang said. Many migrant workers turn to sex workers during long periods of separation from their spouses. "Unsafe sex by migrant workers will lead to a rise in venereal diseases and other social problems," Zhang said. The newspaper cited a recent survey on migrant workers' sexual habits as showing that up to 36% of married men had experienced severe sexual repression (and the other 64% probably didn’t understand the question). The problem was not limited to men. "Many young women who have migrated from rural areas, where sex education is nonexistent, experience a culture shock in bustling cities. They may follow in their friends' footsteps by adopting a more open attitude toward sex. Some women reportedly take modeling jobs, and others end up married but accepting their husbands' second wives or mistresses. Other women may even go as far as participating in the online sex industry, such as chatting to men online while nude." Zhang said he was asking Guangdong's provincial assembly to tackle the problem by thoroughly investigating it. "Again this year, I am asking for the government to do the research. Migrant workers will develop less interest in work if they cannot satisfy their sex needs.” So…government-mandated brothels? Is that the solution? Maybe a Fleshlight given at employee orientation? I don’t know. Let China figure it out. I’m too busy trying to figure out my situation.

Anyway, that’ll do it for tonight. Gonna go to bed early and try to get rid of this bug once and for all. Or at least until the next mutation rolls around and forces me to have Nyquil dreams. Welcome to February, ladies & gentlemen. Have a great day!!!

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