Monday, April 27, 2015

Laugh it up! April is National Humor Month

"Humour or humor (see spelling differences) is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humours (Latin: húmor, "body fluid"), control human health and emotion". ~Wikipedia

Once again as it occurs every year since 1976, National Humor Month is celebrated around the world by people who have a sense of humor. Perhaps even people who don't have a sense of humor but enjoy the mere act of laughing out loud, or in private, but I digress.

It's interesting to note that a month devoted to humor starts on April 1st being April Fools Day. For the record, Larry Wilde is responsible for the creation of National Humor Month, which devotes the entire month to laughter. His aim was and presumably still is, to heighten public awareness of how the joy and therapeutic value of laughter can improve health, boost morale, increase communication skills and enrich the quality of one's life.

Researcher, Robert R. Provine, a neuro-scientist engaged in studies of the development, evolution and neural mechanisms of behavior, has focused on studying laughter and observed thousands of incidents of laughter spontaneously occurring in everyday life. He shared his findings in Laughter: A Scientific Investigation (Penguin Books, 2001).

 "Laughter is not primarily about humor," wrote Dr. Provine, "but about social relationships."

Among some of his surprising (at least to me) findings:

- Health benefits of laughter are probably coincidental, a consequence of a much more important primary goal, which is bringing people together. Not too sure if he's entire right, at least IMHO. Given the choice, people would prefer to laugh than cry. Right?
- Laughter plays a big role in mating. Men like women who laugh heartily in their presence. Won't touch that one with a ten-foot pole.
- Both sexes laugh a lot but females laugh more - 126% more than their male counterparts. Men are more laugh-getters
- The laughter of the female is the critical index of a healthy relationship. Again, this is a questionable statement. I mean, it would depend on the reason for the female's laughter. Is it at or with the person?
- Laughter in relationships declines dramatically as people age

Interesting statistic that females laugh 126% more than males. Perhaps - pure speculation and some observation - females have a better sense of humor. By laugh-getters I'm assuming that they prefer to get/acquire the laughs, which in turn the females will respond by laughing or in some cases, rolling their eyes.

Another theory of why people laugh professes that people laugh to assert that they are on a level equal to or higher than those around them. Research has shown that bosses tend to crack more jokes than do their employees. I would also imagine that employees laugh at their bosses jokes for obvious reasons, especially if a raise in salary is imminent.

Women laugh much more in the presence of men and men generally tell more jokes in the presence of women. Men have even been shown to laugh much more quietly around women, while laughing louder when in a group of men. Males could consider laughing quietly while in the presence of females to be polite. I mean, a loud, coughing and snorting laugh could be considered brash or socially unacceptable. JMHO of course...

Over the years researchers have explored laughter's effects on the body and produced some interesting information on how it affects us. For example, a study conducted by researchers of the University of Maryland studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas and concluded that blood vessels of the group watching comedies expanded and contracted easily, while the blood vesssels of the people watching dramas tended to tense up restricting blood flow. More proof?

There's scientific evidence that it may offer protection against a heart attack. A study with results presented at the American Heart Association's 73rd Scientific Session showed that people with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease. This all means that it's good for your health to laugh.

In honor of this month of merriment, here are some jokes. Warning: some are groaners.

-   Two cannibals were eating a clown. One said to the other: "Does this taste funny to you?"

-  Did you hear about the man who spent too much money on Viagra: Now, he's hard up

-  Did you hear about the guy that lost his left arm and leg in a car crash?
He's all right now.

-  What do you call four bull fighters in quicksand?
Quatro sinko.

Some questions worth thinking about:

-  Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?"~ Steve Wright

-  Why is abbreviation such a long word?~ Steve Wright

-  Dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them's making a poop, the other one's carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge.
~ Jerry Seinfeld

 Don't know who wrote this but it best sums up being happy: "Laughter is the shock absorber that eases the blows of life."

Meanwhile - laugh it up!

Friday, April 17, 2015

As the planet spins - stories that leave you wondering

Sometimes, often actually, seeking out the unusual or weird pieces on the cyber highway of life, are what I call, head shakers. These are the stories that make one shake one's head and marvel at the way people live their lives.

For example, take the story of two neighbors whose feud led to one being detained by authorities for six hours for over trimming a tree that was growing on one of their properties. Logically, they should have been able to discuss it like adults but somehow at some point, the feud must have gotten out of hand in the true sense of the word. Unbelievable. Read about it here:  Personal aside (big on these), one of my favorite and personally written plays, "Shrubs" follows this exact story line in part. I shall take this as a positive omen.

Then there's the story of Aiko Chihira, a greeter who works for the Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo, Japan. What makes her job different from everyone else's is that Aiko is a humanoid robot developed by Toshiba. Somehow, at least in my eyes, she reminds me of one of the Stepford wives of the movie fame, always with a pleasant smile on her face and dark unemotional eyes.  Read more about what else she can do here:  Unnerving in her perfection and very creepy.

Moving on...

What's slimy and not found on ski slopes

There are common and recognizable things that fall from the sky, many of which are related to weather conditions including rain or snowfall to name a few. Then there are the unexpected objects that descend to earth unexpectedly causing one to ponder if the universe is trying to send us a message.

Case in point is a biologist who was skiing in the mountains outside the city of Bergen, Norway, when he came across not a dozen or a hundred but thousands of earthworms laying on top of snow in a pile at least three feet deep.. This is not the type of creepy-crawly normally seen or found in snowy conditions however when examined closely, they started to move  indicating they were alive.

It appears the biologist wasn't the only person to encounter a wormado since there were many similar sightings from across southern Norway with reports of worm piles seen in the vicinity and as far away as the Swedish border. The explanation or theory provided by the scientific community is that a warm, high-velocity pocket of air swept up the worms as they emerged from their winter hibernation and carried them up into the mountains.

I'm thinking here...imagine whooshing down a ski hill and suddenly feeling objects descending on your body and discovering upon looking skywards, worms falling from the heavens. Perhaps skiers should consider adding umbrellas when packing their ski gear, or consider keeping them as fish bait.

A fishy service

Under normal circumstances, a pedicure would include a foot soaking and foot scrubbing, nail filing and other conventional treatments. There is also lesser known but reportedly effective alternate pedicure available in some locations featuring small fish nibbling on toes to remove dead skin. The specie of fish used for this service are called Garra rufa or doctor fish that work by sucking dead tissue off the feet.

Not everyone is enamored with this service to the point where the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by an owner of a Phoenix-area spa, barring her from giving her customers fish pedicures. Seems that they are banned in some U.S. states for health and safety reasons.

At present,  the U.S. Supreme Court refused to disturb state court rulings upholding the right of the Arizona Board of Cosmetology to prevent the owner of the salon from operating a pedicure service featuring the doctor fish. Here is a photo of the pedi-curic doctor fish:

British school student banned due to hair color

Makes you wonder... A 17-year old student who decided to dye her hair red, has been banned from a British school until she changes it to what they believe to be a more natural color. What this has to do with obtaining an education is somewhat puzzling, since this is a personal option and decision.

The student whose natural hair color is naturally auburn, dyed it a more intense or ginger shade. It appears the hair shade selected does not conform with the school uniform policy, which includes no unnatural or presumably gaudy hair colors. In my mind, ginger does not fall into the unnatural  category.
Here is a photo featuring the hair in question: Really can't see what the fuss is about.

In the end, we're not talking about purple, or green and other shades, which could be viewed as 'alternative' colors, but it still boggles the mind as to what hair color has to do with being educated. What do you think?

Lawnmower power

People who dislike the task of cutting the grass (that would include a large majority of people with lawns most likely) will be pleased or interested to learn that home robot manufacturer iRobot applied for a waiver request from the FCC, to use a portion of the radio spectrum for a line of robotic lawnmowers. The lawnmower would use radio beacons on stakes positioned around the lawn in order to remain within boundaries set out by home owners. Don't get too excited since there has been resistance by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, who feel the robo-mowers (I like that word) pose a threat or at least hindrance to astronomers using radio telescopes to target a specific frequency band. It's not enough that we have to worry about human-like robots taking over. Now we have to concern ourselves with lawnmower robots that could at some point pose a threat to humanoids, who believed they were the only members of planet earth capable of cutting grass?

And how was your week?

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

It takes all kinds - this...that...and all the others

Life with all its complexities and challenges, is full of interesting stories focusing on people living out their lives doing interesting if somewhat perplexing things at times. No need to travel far to come across these real-life stories that can be found with a quick click of the mouse, the electronic kind.

Getting to the source of dog poop

As a former dog owner for fifteen years, one of the more distasteful tasks connected with pet care is having to pick up dog excrement, especially in Spring. Legally and morally, dog owners are responsible for cleaning after their pooch has finished by bringing along disposal bags, but many people adopt the 'hit-and-run' method - fleeing the scene once the job (in the true sense of the word) is over.

Seems that people living in apartment complexes in the Seattle area that have had their fill of dog poop are seeking the identity of canine culprits using - wait for it -  DNA testing. To this end (again in the true sense of the word), owners are being provided with a test kit called PooPrints provided by one BioPet Vet Lab from Knoxville, TENN. that will help seek out guilty poop-ers. Some apartment and condo tenants are even being charged a one-time fee of $29.95 for this testing service most likely if they own dogs.

So I'm thinking here...

What if a dog owner refuses to allow her/his pooch to participate? I mean, dogs do have some rights, right? After all, it is their feces, right?

According to the Poo-Prints site, dogs are registered on line (presumably) after which  a poop sample is collected to be registered with the patented DNA World Pet Registry for managing community dogs. Matching the poop samples with the dog(s) in question is a means used ascertain who did what where. Very high tech in as far as dog poop is concerned. However, one wonders what would happen in the case of poop mis-identification.

"Did you receive the DNA I sent you last night?" an apartment manager might call in the way of a follow-up. 

"We did but somehow it doesn't seem to match any DNA records of local neighborhood dogs," the DNA collector could/might/possibly answer.

"Whad'ya mean?" the apartment manager most likely would respond, irately. "I supplied you with all the DNA of all the dogs in this complex and now you're telling me you can't find the pooper?"

"Could be an out-of-town visitor or maybe a dog from another 'burb. You know, a dog out with its owner taking an evening stroll," the DNA collector would attempt to explain.

"What am I supposed to do now?" the apartment manager would ask.

"In cases like that, we advise the person in charge to take things into their own hands, if you get my drift."

In the end, a dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do in spite of high tech poop testing.

A wedding of a different breed

People on occasion, may question the choice of mate when it comes to the band of matrimony but this is a bit much. An obviously love-stricken man for whatever reason (to each their own) decided to marry a specie of a different sort after being convinced that he was fated to share his life with a cobra. A cobra as in dangerous snake that has other things on its mind than marriage.

The groom was positive that the bride-to-be/cobra was once a beautiful female in a previous life who was now in love with him. Furthermore and to complete the mating,  he claimed that he could turn into a snake at night by entering a deep trance. Seems that the bride/cobra had promised to marry him on Easter Sunday.

Obviously, many people believed him since between 12,000 and 15,000 turned up to watch the ceremony. Thinking further, wonder if the bride wore white. But I digress

According to the priest that was to do the nuptials, the groom had exhibited traits of a snake since childhood. I'm sure many people can say that about human they've encountered in their lifetime but I digress. Again.

However, the marriage was not to be when the police put in an appearance after being tipped off about the nuptials. So I'm thinking here, wonder what their wedding night would have been like had the marriage gone ahead. In the end, can you really trust a snake given their reputation for lying?

 Speaking of snakes...

What is it with all this snake abuse? Arrest warrents were issued for two males accused of throwing a snake behind the counter of donut chain, Tim  Hortons in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, as a result of a sandwich dispute. Some people obviously take their sandwiches very seriously. Anywaaay...

The pair are charged with mischief and causing a disturbance. Most likely throwing a snake behind a counter would definitely cause a disturbance. The cause of the disturbance was that they wanted the onions on their sandwiches, diced. Really, the snake should not have to suffer the consequences of an onion dispute. No word on the snake's condition but a temporary home was found for the serpent.

Last but not least - looking for a job with a difference?

The Isles of Scilly, a group of rocky islands off the southwestern tip of Britain, is currently seeking a new constable that can handle a lot of jobs. For example, dealing with wandering seal pups, stopping speeding golf carts and saving abandoned goldfish (some people would say that the sewer pipes are home to many of their kind).

The island is home to approximately 2,200 people. For information, check the Scilly page on Facebook

And how was your week?