Pointless Fun Stuff

Cockroach Pursued by a Wasp

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In which we learn something disturbing about the miraculous animal kingdom by turning you into a cockroach pursued by a wasp.

There’s a wasp out there in the natural world. It is known as the Emerald Cockroach Wasp, and it is much prettier than it sounds. In size and shape, it resembles an ant more than a traditional wasp, and unlike most insects, its body is an iridescent turquoise. Nobody knows why this wasp is such a striking colour. To look at it, perhaps you would be less repulsed by it than other wasps*.

You are wrong, dear reader. You should be more so**.  And if by chance you awoke this morning in the form of a giant cockroach*** you should actively flee if you see one. Flee. Flee.

The colour of the wasp, however odd for its genus, is not the interesting (and frankly awful) characteristic of this anthropoid. What really defines this creature is its preferred methods of reproducing, specifically of laying its eggs. On the living form of a poisoned cockroach.

And just to make this more traumatic^ we’re going to speculate you are a little cockroach^^ minding your own business, wandering about the tropical forests of South Asia.

You’re the average size of a grown man’s hand and are one of the world’s hardiest insects, adapted to living in extreme temperatures of both hot and cold.  Your body is split into three segments, and a ten-segmented abdomen. Two large compound eyes made up of 2,000 lenses (humans have one) that allow you to see almost 360 degrees of your surroundings, although you are unable to see red light. Two antennae, located on your head, house your scent organs. Two organs called cerci on your backside, much like parallel tails, allow you to detect air movements. In short, you are a pretty impressive little beastie, much bigger and stronger^^^ than, say, a blue wasp.

As a cockroach, you’re wandering about searching for something to eat with the mouth located on the underside of your head. You can eat a lot of stuff including glue, hair and leather, but you’re unlikely to come across these delights in your tropical forest homeland, so let’s say you’re on the hunt for a carrion. When suddenly, a fellow insect, half your size at best, and nowhere near your weight appears from the undergrowth and grabs your head.

At first, it might not seem so bad. You are by far the stronger of the two creatures and begin to fend it off. It is at this point the wasp stings you in the brain. Specifically, the female wasp stings you in the ganglia, the cluster of nerve cells responsible for sensation and movement. At this point your ability to fight the wasp is disabled. The sting introduces a neurotoxin which paralyses your forelegs. Then just for kicks^* the wasp proceeds to chew off half of each your antenna. This is only beginning of your troubles.

The wasp then stings you again. Again it aims for the ganglia, this time injecting a chemical designed to block your escape reflex. A strange feeling is now passing along your body. The natural instincts causing you to fight and run are rendered mute. After a few seconds, you are a compliant and calm victim. Without any fight or flight left in you, the little wasp, who hasn’t a hope in hell of carrying you alone, simply leads you like a dog on a chain to a burrow nearby.

Down, down into the burrow you are led. You have no will to resist. When the wasp decides you are deep enough, it will let go, but you will not flee. You will simply remain still and brain numb as the wasp lays an egg on your body.

Do you see where this is going?

The wasp will then retreat from the hole, leaving the egg nestled upon your abdomen. It will cover the hole with leafy debris and pebbles to keep other, arguably less nasty, predators from finding you. Meanwhile, you’ll sit undisturbed in the hole. And then the egg will hatch.

With the neurotoxin still strong in your system, you won’t so much as twitch. The wasp larva will attach itself to your body and begin feeding on your insides. And it will eat you from the unessential parts in. After five days or so of nibbling, it will dig itself into your body and start thriving on your organs, leaving the nerves and breathing system as a tasty dessert to the rest of you. And due to this dining order, you will be alive the whole time*^.

Eventually, after eight days of feeding, the wasp will form a cocoon inside your body and emerge later from your dry, empty husk as a fully grown wasp. At least your tortuous last week will be over. There are no wasps in cockroach heaven**^.

At least your tortuous last week will be over. There are no wasps in cockroach heaven**^, I’m sure.

Why am I telling you all this? Why did I bother to invite your imagination to pretend you are doomed insect being eaten alive? Usually, I would conclude with some philosophic prose on how we ourselves are either the wasp or the cockroach, but that’s not why I bring this up.

Mostly, it is because earlier today I was sitting downcast in front of the television when a nature documentary came on featuring a cockroach who landed itself in the circumstance I described above. Despite not entirely cheering my spirits, I did think ‘well, at least I’m not a cockroach being eaten alive by a wasp’, so there’s that. Either I’ve perked you up with the same thought, or I’ve fueled your nightmares for the next week or so. If you find yourself having a bad day, however, I think it might be something worth remembering.

You’ve got to admit it’s actually interesting though, right?   Gross and disturbing, but interesting.

Does writing about insects make anyone else itchy? I’m going to need to shower now.

Pleasent non-wasp-infested dreams, hypothetical readership.

 


Footnotes

*I write this as somebody with a particular dislike of waspy, buzzy members of our animal kingdom. In my opinion, they are tiny flying spears with anger issues. I once saw one sting a woman in the eye. Completely unprovoked. Stung her in the eye. Forgive me my prejudice. However, I’m sure once you read about the Emerald Cockroach Wasp you’ll at least be more wary of the Hymenoptera clan.

**At this point, you can simply take my word for it and hop on your merry way, ignorant of the horrid tortures happening in the natural world. However, if you are brave enough to put knowledge before comfort, ride on with me…. maybe bring a bucket. For the puke.

***Metamorphosis II: One man awakes as a giant cockroach and another awakes as a giant emerald cockroach wasp. The hunt is on. I’m kidding, here, but I wouldn’t put it past Hollywood to make it into a legitimate film starring Bruce Willis as the wasp.

^Because I realise, I have hyped it up more than I probably should have.

^^There are 4,600 to choose from. I’m not sure which kind hang around in tropical South Asian climates, and we’re here to talk about the wasp. Feel free to use creative license and pick any cockroach you like; heck, you can even make up your own if you like. Be whatever cockroach your heart desires, just don’t get attached to your new form.

^^^I feel sorry for the cockroach sometimes. I mean, they’re not portrayed well on TV. I myself would not be best pleased to find one in my home, but they are, as creatures go, relatively interesting and ‘harmless’ (not 100% sure on all 2,400 varieties). At least I’ve never heard of a cockroach stinging someone in the eye.

^*I’m not kidding; biologists have yet to determine the exact reason the wasp does this.

*^Annnnnddd puke.

**^ We’re all thinking it!

 

Four Questions Why? (I have been tagged).

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Close friend and fellow blogger Daisy Droplets has tagged me. For all intents and purposes I have been tagged.  This means I must answer four questions pertaining to my life and work as a writer. I’m going to preface this by saying this isn’t my usual style of post. I would apologise for any incorrectness of etiquette as far as this is concerned, but it’s my blog and I do things my way here. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you.

Onward!

What am I Writing/Working on Right Now?

As a professional writer and editor most of my writing prowess is taken up with ghostwriting autobiographies and proofreading. My days can vary greatly due to the fluctuating nature of the work, leaving splashes of time for personal creativity, and intense periods of dedicated writing work. My life is a tussle between the two, meaning that what I work on can alternate depending on what is required of me when and where. Dedicating myself to any one take for a length of time is nigh on impossible at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try. Variables as to what I’m doing also include my emotional state of being, what is inspiring me, and, honestly, how lazy I am at any given moment.

Besides my job, which I am legally unable to share details about, I try to be as involved with this blog as is possible for me without forcing it. Topics range from random ramblings and emotive descriptive pieces, to journal style entries about what is happening in my life and short stories. This functions essentially as a space to write anything I want, which I think is vital for me, and also fun.

Personal writing outside of these areas often remain private information. I’m not one to show off writing work, particularly in early stages. However, I do have two big writing projects on the go. One is a ‘novel’. The other is an exploration of my darker ideas, which I’m just letting drip onto the page.

And Daisy Droplets, don’t ask me. I’ll tell you about both when I’m ready. I just wanted to be honest for your tag, because I don’t want to get a curse or anything…. Don’t look at me like that! It could happen. I don’t know how these things work.

 

How Does My Work Differ from Others of its Genre?

Interesting, yet obsolete question. Why does it matter? Every writer has their own flair, style, mood, and personality which will inevitably erupt into their creative works. Comparing my work to someone because they write the same genre, is like comparing a mouse to an elephant because they’re both mammals. I don’t think it’s healthy for a writer to worry so much about how they do or do not differ from other writers. A mouse can’t blow water from its trunk, but an elephant can’t scurry soundlessly through a corn field. It’s not about trying to be different, writing is about saying what you want to say, in a way you want to say it, as best as you can. We all have weaknesses and strengths which pull together to create something unique.

 

Why Do I Write What I Write?

I have to. Writing is my passion, my why of putting something of myself into the world. I truly believe if I didn’t write regularly enough, I would go insane.

It all began when a book saved my life, and I realised how valuable stories could be in creating hope and sustaining the goodness of humanity. I often found it easier to connect with fictional beings than I did real people. During my difficult teenage years I turned to stories as a means of survival and they have remained with me ever since. I wrote about adventures I wanted to go on. When I learned I could mold characters, I started putting trails against them, watching how they navigated round issues and problems. I worked through my emotions vicariously through my characters.

My mind can be a very turbulent place to be; I suffer from momentary, yet very real darknesses. Some days I wake feeling a disconnection from everything and everyone around me. I can be overwhelmed by expectation and failure, and unable to navigate to a future. These crazy moments have been with me most of my life. Please, don’t fear for me, I know what they are, why they come, and how to tame them. It’s funny how much smaller strife and heartbreak are when they become a string of words.

Part of defeating the demons in the dark corners of my head and heart is writing. It’s like the words spill as ink from inside. It makes the thoughts tangible, and easier to understand when I can form words and stories with them. During my difficult teenage years I turned to stories as a means of survival and they have remained with me ever since. Through writing I am real, I am in the world, a part of it.

Strange how in times of grief or loneliness, confusion and insecurity, a plank page can be a friend and ally, the canvas for the stirrings of the soul.

 

How Does My Writing Process Work?

That depends on what I’m writing. Sometimes there’s no process, and I just allow my brain to stream onto the page with little to no critical regard. At other times I plan and experiment until I can stand it no longer. There’s always a critical edge to longer projects. Novels always involve a lot of trail and error. I can spend weeks just compiling character bios, plot lines, and setting boards. Generally, I always have an initial instinct about how things should look and sound, and that’s the basis for everything else.

This blog varies. Longer, technical pieces are often pre-written in my anything notebook prior to posting. However, descriptive, fanciful posts will just flow out and maybe receive a once over afterwards.

My professional work always requires careful consideration, for obvious reasons. That varies in technique depending on who I work for. The method there is finding the voice of the person who I am representing on page.

I have no one way of doing anything, I just go with what I feel is correct for whatever I am doing. Hasn’t failed me so far.

—–

So, that’s me done. I hope this has been of interest.

I’m supposed to tag someone now. Maybe, blogger, Nirvana’sPocketful would enjoy this one. I doubt very much she knows who I am, or about this blog, but I’ve been keeping on eye on her writings for a while now, and they’re always enjoyable. It would be interesting to see what she has to say about these four questions. Even if she doesn’t, do go check her out. Mostly her posts pertain to books, but she also has some amusing life anecdotes.

Otherwise, if you, dear reader, want to hop on, feel free. I formally tag you!  If you do answer the questions, connect your post back to me so I can see what you write.

Tag! You’re it!

The Easter Bunny Explained

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Easter Sunday is here again, and this year I find myself alone playing a video game and eating masses of surgery treats. Not the traditional means of celebration, but it suits me just fine. So far I have scoffed one medium Easter egg, two creme eggs and a reasonable chunk of a box of roses chocolates, because it’s Easter and I can get away with it. Of course, children usually relay on a certain bunny to provide them with their fill of goodies this time of year, but, unlike Santa, not many people know the true origins of the generous chocolate giving rabbit. That’s a shame, because it’s actually very interesting. The following is how I’ve come to understand it.

The first seasonal celebrations go back further than the bunny, and begin with the Anglo-Saxon traditions for welcoming spring. Documents written by the Christian Monk Bebe refer to a pagan deity named Eostre, who was honoured with a feast once a year upon the arrival of warmer climates. According to his work The Reckoning of Time (crafted in the 8th Century) the tradition lost popularity over the years. The goddess Eostre is represented as a young woman wearing the crown of flowers and is often accompanied by a hare. This little large-eared companion is thought to be the first allusion to the Easter Bunny. The name Eostre derives from the Germanic word  austrōn, meaning ‘dawn’. The ind0-Europian parent to both words is Aus, meaning ‘to shine’, and is the root of the word East in English. Hence, Eostre becomes Easter over a variety of languages and countries.

When Christianity grew in popularity, the season altered in meaning, but the name, and many of the former traditions of feast and symbolism stuck around. Obviously, sects of the new religion began to equate the time to the resurrection of Christ. The first depictions of the Easter Bunny started with the German Lutherans, who presented a hare as a judge for children. Obedient Christian children, faithful to the Lord, would be rewarded with colourful treats, including sweets and small toys, at the beginning of Eastertide. Why a hare? Eostre’s symbolic companion is thought to have filtered down in symbolism, but actually earler Christians had another reason for favouring rabbits.

Due to their rapid breeding habits, rabbits were believed to be hermaphroditic, and therefore capable of reproducing asexually. Obviously the scientific terms had yet to be understood and, you know, invented, but essentially this equated to rabbits producing young without loss of virginity. This gave the animal a symbolic relationship to the Holy Mother Mary and the Christ Child. Churches often used hares to represent the holy trinity in decoration.

Throughout Europe, individual fables surrounding the Easter Bunny began to appear.  Northwest European folklore spoke of the  Easter hare which placed coloured eggs in the bonnets and caps of good children at the start of Eastertide. Traditionally, children were encouraged to make little nests in their hats to encourage the hare. However, when German immigrants bought the fable to Sweden, a misunderstanding in language changed the tradition entirely. The mispronunciation of “Påskharen” (meaning Easter Hare) as “Påskkarlen” (meaning Easter man)  altered the original tale so much, that to this day Swedish children are visited by the Easter Wizard. In the 18th Century, German Protestant immigrants carried the tradition of the bunny with them to America. 

So there you go. I hope you were all good little girls and boys, and received chocolate goodies from the rabbit, or, if you’re Swedish, the Easter Wizard. That kind of makes me wish I lived in Sweden…. Just a bit.

How I Didn’t Fill In My Tax Return Yet In Twenty-Seven Steps.

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Step One: Wake up to the alarm and groan, not because you have to get up, but because you have to get up and file your taxes.

Step Two: Complete morning routine while telling yourself you have to get your taxes done today. There is no choice. There is no alternative. Today you will do your taxes. Yes, yes you will. As soon as you are washed, dressed, breakfasted and brushed, you will go to the library and you will do your taxes.

Step Three: Get washed, dressed, breakfasted and brushed and remember you have to put the washing on, so do that first.

Step Four: Remember there is a silent retreat on and that means the cellar is out of bounds and you can’t do your washing.

Step Five: Notice the weather and the local storm warnings. Actually speak the words “Yikes, screw that plan” and abandon the library idea. Decide instead to just work at your desk.

Step Six: Clear the desk so you can work from it.

Step Seven: Spend 15 minutes searching for the correct place to file the tax return on the Inland Revenue and Customs site.

Step Eight: Find the correct place to file the tax return on the Inland Revenue and Customs site and feel overly jubilant about doing so.

Step Nine: Begin filling out the return and find the first stage relatively simple. Input your name, address and personal details… realise suddenly that if this part was not relatively simple for you to fill out, that would make you would be a complete moron.

Step Ten: Click next and attempt to fill out the next page. Become instantly confused.

Step Eleven: Fill out the second part of the form and click next. See page three, pull your lower lip as you scrutinise the page, sigh and attempt to answer the questions.

Step Twelve: Become mindbogglingly perplexed and call someone for assistance.

Step Thirteen: When he doesn’t answer, glance at the screen again and have another go. Frown.

Step Fourteen: Hunt down meanings to highlighted captions using Google.

Step Fifteen:  Realise that Google is now a verb. Contemplate that bazaar little fact for a few minutes, before continuing.

Step Sixteen: Find Step Fourteen a useless waste of time.

Step Seventeen: Decide to come back to these questions and move on for now. When trying to input this data, discover the site has logged you out for security reasons. Frown.

Step Eighteen: Take a deep breath and log back into your account. Miss a number on your ID, see a big red X on the screen and momentarily panic that you’ve forgotten your password.

Step Nineteen: Repeat Step Eighteen twice more, because, apparently, you are a complete moron.

Step Twenty: Realise your error and input the correct ID. Get back onto your account. Laugh for sheer relief.

Step Twenty-One: Skip to the next page. Fill that out with some ease. Smile believing the worst must be over.

Step Twenty-Two: Stare uncomprehendingly at the next page. Actually speak the words “though I scan through the valley of taxes, I shall fear no miss-comprehension.” Stare at it some more, because if you can intimidate the page with your eyes, it might back down like a feral cat.

Step Twenty-Three: Dive in. Fill out one section with relative ease. Go to the next section. Gasp and actually raise both hands to cheeks for lack of understanding.

Step Twenty-Four: Call someone else for assistance.

Step Twenty-Five: When he doesn’t respond, send a text pleading for assistance. Decide there’s nothing you can do until you hear back. Remind yourself that even though you need to get it done as soon as you can, you do have the majority of a month and don’t panic.

Step Twenty-Six: Panic a little bit anyway.

Step Twenty-Seven: Receive a message back with the news that a friend is happy to help, but won’t be free to do so until tomorrow. Agree.

Giraffe Necked Weevil (Or When Evolution Trys to be Funny)

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Evolution, seriously, what am I looking at?

O_o It’s like someone mixed a ladybird and an ant, and stretched the result on the wrack. Apparently, the long-neck is for fighting, but really evolution, couldn’t you have equipped this guy with a sword, it may be more effective than the delicate limb that holds the head up. These folks live in the forests of Madagascar. Their binomial name is Trachelophorus giraffa, which is fun to say five-times-fast.  This is a male, by the way, the females don’t look quite so odd, but they do spend a lot of time constructing their nests out of leaves. It’s pretty cool actually, akin to origami.

I feel like evolution was having a bit of a laugh when it came up with this; perhaps what it intended was a tiny giraffe, which would have been adorable. No need to picture it, Google provides.

Dear science, you’ve had enough time on that figuring out the mysteries of the Universe junk; make me a tiny giraffe.

At some point in the project, evolution got bored, and just thought ‘ah, screw it! I’m throwing in an exoskeleton and some antennae! Oh and I’ll give it a bulge at the centre of its disproportionate neck, so it looks like a denizen of satanic practices! Wait till the universe sees this one!’

The poor thing has my sympathies.

Seriously science, get on that tiny giraffe idea.

Melomakárona

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Happy just-after-christmas-but-before-new-year. I’m on a bit of a break at the moment, but will return with gusto on January first. I wanted to share this with you, made by my beautiful Andreas and his extraordinary mother. Also there is a guest appearance. Enjoy….

Please support this project, and continue to get tasty Greek and Cypriot dishes at Vathylakas Kitchen.

Letter to Santa (Requested Repost)

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Dear Santa,

I know that I haven’t written to you for many years now, and it’s not because I don’t believe in you, because you bet your festive red buckets I do, but I have become so un-materialistic, I had no reason. I was just writing to inquire as to how the good list, bad list system works. Songs never quite clarify whether you get points per good action, or whether the number of bad deeds done is taken away from the number of good deeds, and that is what ultimately discerns what you get, or how much you get for Christmas every year. Anyway, as you know, because of all your little elf spies I’m sure, is that I have been an exceptionally outstanding number of society since I was old enough to crawl a penny to a poor-man’s cup. I’ve never asked you for anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary in my life. While other children whined about ipods and mobile phones, I asked only for socks and the occasional book. If my theory of how your delivery quota is predicted is correct, that means I have a surplus of good-list nominations. Now Christmas is only a week away, and I would like to cash in all my kindnesses on something rather important.

I’m going to be blunt, Santa; I want a dragon.

Yes, I know you are probably asking yourself, as you munch on one of Mrs Claus’s homemade gingerbread cupcakes, what does a 23-year-old need with an enormous, mythological reptile. Dragons are awesome, Santa. That’s a fact that no scientific experiment need prove, because everyone knows that having a dragon would just be plain cool. Dragons are fast, large, can fly, and shoot fire. I can do none of these things, thus the need for a dragon. I think you’ll find my logic infallible.

He’ll need to be a dark colour so I could easily hide him. The Buddhists here might not like it if they knew I was housing a pet dragon under their roof, but don’t worry, I would still take good care of him. Every night I’d take him for a flight over the sea. You know I live in an ideal flying location – also, I live near a vast area of protected countryside where we could go for hours at a time without fear of detection. Of course, he’d have to be a vegetarian dragon able to graze, otherwise he might get in trouble for eating sheep. I’m not going to lie and pretend I could afford cart loads of meat a day, Santa, because lieing is wrong, and that’s not why I’m on your nice list. However, I could provide ample amounts of freshly mown grass, and organic vegetables for his or her consumption.

I’m very responsible. I want you to understand that Santa, because I would never, never, never abuse the whole fire-bolt thing. Strictly, I would use it only to light candles, fireplaces, and flame retardant goods. That’s it. I wouldn’t set any neighbours houses alight, or seek out and terrorise high-school bullies. Not me, Santa. You can have faith in that, if nothing else. A dragon would keep me warm. I know you live in the North Pole where it’s snowing and below freezing all year round, but I live in Plymouth where it just rains all year round. At least you can make snowmen; there’s no such thing as a rain-man … at least in that context. So, have mercy on we who get wet and cold, and supply me with a dragon. Together we could chase the clouds away, and warm the hearts of those who know us.

I’m not picky, but if he resembled Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon you wouldn’t hear a single complaint from me. Although, it might help if his teeth weren’t sharp. I don’t own any of my furniture, and I really don’t want to have to replace expensive pine sets when I have no money with which to do it. All my money would go on buying toys and bedding for my dragon. He needn’t be too big, just large enough that I could ride him, and yet still dedicate a corner of my room to his sleeping needs. I’ve heard dragon dung has magical fertilizing properties. That might not be true, but if it is I promise all the poopie my beautiful little pet is able to produce would be donated to independent farms for use on their crops. You see, everyone would benefit. A dragon is not just for Christmas, it’s for a community.

As for a name, I’d give him a good one. I always liked the dragon names from the Pern series, so Ramoth maybe. Or Spike, from the original MLP cartoons. We’d be best friends – it’s in all dragon fiction. That’s how I know, because I have  read up on dragons my whole life. I am so prepared to own a dragon; I have even read the diabolical Eragon in the pursuit of dragon owning perfection. I have been wise enough to wait until I turned at least 23 to make this request. Check that on your maturity list.

Don’t put him under the tree, that will only lead to disaster. Peg him outside and leave me a note; something like, ‘giant, best buddy outside’ so at least I’ll get a bit of a surprise. Leave it next to the giant plate of cookies I plan to leave you, along side nine, very sumptuous, very organic carrots for the poor creatures who will have to ferry my dragon to my home. Now, I’m not allowed to eat wheat Santa, so my leaving you gluten stocked cookies is a good-will gesture, which also shows how wonderfully restrained I am. I’m not sure why that’s a plus in the category of dragon ownership, but it sure can’t hurt.

I hope your plans and preparations continue to go well this year, and that my very reasonable request doesn’t set your schedule back too far. Procuring a beast this late in the game shouldn’t be a problem for an old expert like you. My anticipation for Christmas day, and the arrival of my new pet, grows ever stronger.

Thank you in advance

Alice.

Ps. I will also require dragon riding equipment, a dragon food and water bowl, and a dragon lead. You know, for my dragon.