Saturday, June 27, 2009

"Like a drill on an ingrown toenail..."

Dum dee dum... Summertime, sipping soda... What's that? !!! Oh jeez. I've been stung !!!! By what? Oh, Here it comes... Pain!!!!!! Holy mother of !%*$#ing God !!!!!!

Wasps love to climb inside a sweet soda can. But better to be stung in the mouth by a common yellow jacket than anywhere by a Pepsis Wasp a.k.a. the "Tarantula Hawk." Only one man could have described this particular venom as giving "...immediate, excruciating pain that simply shuts down one's ability to do anything, except, perhaps, scream. Mental discipline simply does not work in these situations."

Dr. Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist recently retired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Tucson Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, has come up with a system for ranking the pain of insect stings and bites fittingly called: The Schmidt Sting Pain Index. Dr. Schmidt is a connoisseur of pain. His descriptions, based on a scale of 1 - 4, are deeply imaginative, like a vintner recalling a rare fine wines...

1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.

1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.

1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.

2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.

2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W. C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.

2.x Honey bee and European hornet: Like a matchhead that flips off and burns on your skin.

3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.

3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.

4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath.

4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel.

He describes Pogonomyrmex badius (pictured above) as an average-looking ant whose bite yields "pain that might be caused by someone turning a screw into the flesh or ripping muscles and tendons." More on the science of stings here.

Waterboarding waterschmording! Apparently, the finest tortures come in small, venomous packages.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Wise Old Mule...

A wise old mule fell into a farmer's well. Well what kind of wise mule falls into a well? An old one with cataracts you see. The farmer came in from the fields and noticed his mule in the well and his heart went out to him. But, the sympathy soon relaxed into complacency. He decided that neither the mule nor the well were worth saving. He called his workers over and instructed them to fill the well in with dirt. They did and soon the mule's back was covered with dirt. His ankles were buried. So this is how it would end thought the mule. He prepared to meet his maker, but then a new thought: what if I shake the dirt off my back and step up? With each new shovel full of dirt, the mule shook it off and stepped up. After a few hours, the old mule reached the top of the well, battered and exhausted. Still, he climbed out triumphantly before the bemused workers. He walked right passed the farmer and gave him a kind but knowing look. The mule had learned something new: What seemed like it would bury him actually gave him the strength to live. His refusal to see problems negatively, no matter how painful or distressing they were, gave him the power to rise out of his predicament. Shake it off and step up.

The farmer thought the mule burgers were a bit chewy.