THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- OCTOBER 23, 2021
If you can clear your head of the political shenanigans going on, you'll notice that there is other strangeness occurring in the world. Tapping into this wellspring of oddities can be interesting and enlightening.
For instance, out in Colorado they just removed a tire from an elk. “For two years, an elk was seen with a tire around its neck. Now, after several attempts, wildlife officials have freed the animal of the rubber hindrance.”
It was no easy task. “The further these elk are away from people, the wilder they act. That certainly played true the last couple of years, this elk was difficult to find, and harder to get close to."
I am happy to report that experts safely tranquilized the animal and removed the tire. Officers had to cut off the antlers to slide the tire off, but the elk is now radial free. It took two years to get this done, so I wonder how long it would have taken if they had brought in a NASCAR pit crew. (https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/11/us/elk-tire-around-neck-removed-colorado-trnd/index.html)
It's a good thing winter is coming because that means no more mosquitoes for a while. That said, a new variety is moving across the country that may be bad news for humans. “Meet the invasive Aedes mosquito, an insect that really wants to bite you. Most mosquitoes prefer to feed on birds, but with Aedes mosquitoes, it's a whole different interest. They prefer to bite people."
Yikes! It gets worse because these things are almost impossible to contain. “Aedes eggs look like a very small speck of dirt and they can lay them in a bottle cap of water and on things such as toys, buckets and plants.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/10/14/mosquito-prefers-biting-people-thriving-california/8440221002/)
Now, you could hide in your basement so the mosquitoes can't get you, but this could be problematic. That's where the spiders are lurking. In fact, according to the Weather Channel, if you live in an average home there is a spider within six feet of you – right now!
“Spiders are literally everywhere. They can be found in sixty-eight percent of bathrooms and seventy-seven percent of bedrooms. On average, sixty-two spiders can be found per home.”
Need another spider fun fact? “Spiders eat somewhere between four hundred million and eight hundred million tons of prey each year. The total biomass of all adult humans on earth is estimated to be 287 million tons and even if you throw in another hundred million tons for kids, that is less than four hundred million tons. That means, if spiders mobilized and really wanted to, they could eat every human on earth in less than one year.” So, now do you wonder if the spiders in your house are plotting against you? (https://riotfest.org/2017/03/spiders-found-100-homes-eat-us/)
There is some good news on the nature front, though. When you go swimming you no longer have to worry about giant sea scorpions. They died off about four million years ago, but they did exist.
“A three and a half foot-long sea scorpion prowled the seas of what is now China. It used giant, spiny arms to ensnare prey. Palaeontologists recently discovered the remains of this scorpion. The sea scorpions would have been the apex predators in their underwater stalking grounds.” (https://www.livescience.com/sea-scorpion-discovered-china)
None of this will matter anyway if earth is smacked by a comet and we all become cosmic dust. “The largest comet ever observed by humanity is currently on track to pass through our solar system between Uranus and Saturn in less than ten years’ time. At an estimated sixty to one-hundred miles wide, it is the 'cow of comets,' dwarfing its celestial comparisons like Hale-Bopp, which only measures a measly thirty-seven miles across.”
Astronomers note it should miss our planet. “In all likelihood we’ll only be able to gawk at the big cow comet from telescopes here on earth.” Not to worry, but the key word here is “likelihood.” (https://www.avclub.com/brace-yourselves-humanity-the-cow-of-comets-approac-1847845740)
Apparently impending doom is of no concern for some people. They keep right on buying “essential” things. “An original Grateful Dead T-shirt from 1967 sold for $17,640 last Friday breaking the record for the most expensive vintage rock shirt sold at auction.” (https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/music/grateful-dead-t-shirt-from-1967-sells-for-record-breaking-17640)
Supposedly, what makes this shirt so valuable is it is believed to be among the first shirts mass-produced by the band but exists in very limited quantities. If that doesn't send you scurrying to your drawer of vintage tee shirts, I don't know what will.
Finally, with ski season just around the corner, skiers might be interested in knowing that Norwegian archaeologists found what may be the oldest pair of skis ever discovered.
In 2014, they found one ski. “It was a lone wooden ski on a mountaintop, where it had been trapped in ice for 1300 years. The ski was well preserved, down to an intact binding made from birch rope and leather straps.” (https://www.science.org/content/article/oldest-pair-skis-unearthed-norwegian-ice)
Recently, they uncovered the mate to the original ski. “Because skis come in pairs, archaeologists monitored the ice patch for summertime thaws that might reveal the other one. In late September, a team found the second ski, partially embedded in melting ice just five meters away from the first spot.”
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.