Everyone Shall Sit Under Their Own Vine and Fig Tree

Powerful art echoes through time and connects us to those who have come before us. In Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda drew back the curtain and showed us the mythical figures of America’s birth were human beings, and that their experiences are not so different from our own. This performance at the White House drives that point home in a unique way. George Washington is stepping down, setting the precedent of two terms that presidents would follow for centuries to come (with one notable exception being FDR). And Obama, about to step down himself after his eight years in office, is in the audience. When the chorus sings “George Washington’s going home,” you can hear the tears in their voices, as through time they wish farewell to an influential and much beloved man with the words of farewell to the father of our country.

Floating Fire

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I grew up in southwest Florida. Believe me, you don’t know bugs until you’ve lived in the south. The cockroaches are huge, and they fly. The spiders are huge, too. And then there are the fire ants.

Florida used to be all swamp, and during the rainy summers it tries to revert back to its former state. Every year my backyard would flood, and sometimes the whole neighborhood would be submerged under a couple inches of water. While there were distinct drawbacks to this (such as issues with the septic tank – enough said) as a kid I loved splashing through the neighborhood, even wading into the deeper water of the ditches. I would never do this now, knowing what sorts of bacteria and parasites that water was likely teeming with (septic tank – enough said), but then it was fun, like a huge natural kiddie pool.

Except for the ants.

When the neighborhood flooded, the fire ants were flooded out of their hills. To survive, they would clump together in a big floating ball. Imagine wading in waist deep water…and running into a floating fortress of fire ants. Accidentally stepping on a fire ant hill was bad enough…fire ant bites are terribly painful, and people have died from too many…but imagine them suddenly crawling all over you, taking a respite from their watery tribulations to bite every bit of skin they can get their pincers on. 

Give me the e. coli and flukes. Balls of fire ants are the worst.

Weird Wikipedia Wednesday: Exploding Head Syndrome

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Exploding Head Syndrome

Individuals with exploding head syndrome hear or experience loud imagined noises as they are falling asleep or waking up, have a strong, often frightened emotional reaction to the sound, and do not report signficant pain; around 10% of people also experience visual disturbances like perceiving visual static, lightning, flashes of light. Some people may also experience heat, strange feelings in their torso, or a feeling of electrical tinglings that ascends to the head before the auditory hallucinations occur.[1] With the heightened arousal, people experience distress, confusion, myoclonic jerks, tachycardia, sweating, and the sensation that felt as if they had stopped breathing and had to make a deliberate effort to breathe again.

Wall ‘O Crazy!

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The crazy wall trope is so common as to be cliche. You’re probably nodding right now in recognition, remembering some TV show or movie where papers tacked onto a wall and connected with a web of string is a visual cue that the main character is losing their marbles. The image is so pervasive that this website has been posting examples for 6 years. What I’m wondering is if this is actually a thing that people actually do. Certainly people put things up on walls to help them visualize a problem or see a pattern, but I wouldn’t necessarily call those “crazy walls.” Does it become crazy when they start using string? When the papers become jumbled? Even if they do exist in the real world, they can’t possibly be as prevalent as they are in the movies.

Settle Down

Australian singer Kimbra is probably best known in the United States as the woman in Gotye’s hit “Somebody That I Used To Know,” but her solo work is well worth your time. “Settle Down” explores the fantasy of a Ken and Barbie marriage that girls are taught by society, and contrasts it with real life and all the difficulties that the fairy tales don’t tell us. Enjoy!

Weird Wikipedia Wednesday: Alien Hand Syndrome

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ALIEN HAND SYNDROME

A person with alien hand syndrome can feel normal sensation in the hand and leg, but believes that the hand, while still being a part of their body, behaves in a manner that is totally distinct from the sufferer’s normal behavior. They lose the “sense of agency” associated with the purposeful movement of the limb while retaining a sense of “ownership” of the limb. They feel that they have no control over the movements of the “alien” hand, but that, instead, the hand has the capability of acting autonomously—i.e., independent of their voluntary control. The hand effectively has “a will of its own.”

Wait For It

I was late to the bandwagon, but I’ve been mildly obsessed with the musical Hamilton for a couple months now, and “Wait For It” in particular has been on repeat for the past couple weeks. One of the things I love about Hamilton is how all the characters, these mythical men (and women) from the founding of our great nation, are human beings. There are no good guys or bad guys, just people trying to do the best they can in momentous, uncertain times. Alexander Hamilton is a brilliant man with major issues of arrogance and womanizing. And Aaron Burr, the “villain in your histories,” struggles with a need to live up to the expectations of his dead parents’ legacy and the resulting hesitance to stick his neck out for anything. Who can’t relate to that?