Wednesday, March 19, 2014

7 Animals That Smell Like Gourmet Jelly Beans

Mother Nature loves a joke. Marine invertebrates that literally puke their guts out at the slightest provocation and hippos that sweat sunscreen are just a few of her favorites. There are vultures that wear leggings made from their own poop. There are alarmingly large bugs that smell like cherry cola, and mammal butts that smell like French vanilla and buttered popcorn. (Go home, nature. You’re drunk.)
So is this the zoo or the Sweet Factory? Your nose can’t tell the difference. These seven animals are olfactory dead ringers for Jelly Belly flavors.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Why Is Your Pee Always Yellow? (And Other Pressing Bladder Questions)

Before you could speak, you could pee. Before you learned to write your own name, you could pee. (And if you grew up in a particularly snowy part of the world, you may have combined these skills.) Urination is a taboo subject, a daily miracle, an essential bodily function, and a complete mystery to most people who do it. 
Let’s part the underpants-shaped veil surrounding urination information. Let’s learn about peeing.

Click here to read the full article at mental_floss.

Image: "A Field of Yellow Flowers" by Vincent van Gogh

Thursday, February 27, 2014

America's Weirdest State Symbols

The bald eagle. The Lincoln Memorial. The Stars and Stripes. Symbols matter in the United States.
But regional pride is important, too, and every state in the union has its own heritage to celebrate—sometimes in odd ways.
As children, we all learned about our state flags and state birds—but who can name their official state soil? How about their state crustacean?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Save (Me From) the Whales

Goodness gracious me. My essay about confronting my whale phobia—remember that one?—is finally in print. And oh,'s the cover story!

The folks at Open Minds Quarterly are lovely, and I highly encourage sending them your money in exchange for copies of the magazine.

Read more here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chicken Goggles, Tiny Cardboard Hats, and Lobster Love Hotels...For Science!

Look into the "methods" section of any given animal experiment and you'll find descriptions ranging from the ghastly to the absurd. Researchers have crafted chicken goggles, tiny cardboard hats, and remote-control whale-snot collectors—all in the name of science.
The road to enlightenment has taken some pretty strange turns over the last century. Here are a few of the weirdest pit stops. (Links to the story at mental_floss)

(glorious art by Zach Weiner)

Monday, January 20, 2014

How Do You Poop in the Galapagos Islands?

This sea lion looks like she needs to use the bathroom.
Darwin’s research transformed the Galapagos Islands into an object of scientific and cultural fascination, as well as a bucket-list destination. In 1978, UNESCO honored the archipelago and its living treasures by naming it the first-ever World Heritage site. 97% of the islands’ area was designated a national park; the remaining 3% was set aside for human habitation. The parklands and their inhabitants are truly wild, offering no shelter, no Internet access, and no bathrooms.

So...How do you poop in the Galapagos Islands?

Click here to read the article on mental_floss.

(excruciatingly cute sea lion pup photo by dagspeak)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Short Essay: The Plane

Once the luggage was out of the way, the passenger seat of the rental car reclined almost 180 degrees. My body went down with it, twinging tailbone flush and grateful against the bedlike plane, bare feet alighting on the sun-warmed patch of faux leather atop the glove compartment. The headrest was unreachable, crafted for a longer person, but a heavy head will rest wherever it can.

Read the rest in Quail Bell magazine.

photograph by C.M. Drysdale