Category Archives: wildlife

8 Reasons to Hate Octopuses (a post by Lee)

There are many reasons to hate octopuses. Here are only 8.

1. They are full of venom and hatred.

2. They have beaks. Their beaks are on the sides of their heads. They use these beaks that are on the sides of their heads to peck into enemies, inject them with venom, and then consume them.

3. The beak is the only hard part of an octopus’s body. This is how they’re able to squeeze through tiny cracks.

4. They can squeeze through tiny cracks.

5. They have suckers on their tentacles that can break through flesh.

6. They have four pairs of arms. I don’t trust anything with that many arms. (I also don’t trust animals with no arms; HOW DO SNAKES MOVE.) If they lose an arm, even if they deserved to, they can regrow it. I don’t trust anything that can regrow arms, especially not arms they don’t deserve to have.

7. After mating, the male will wander off to die, which is all well and good. However! Once the eggs hatch, the female octopus (which can lay up to 400,000 eggs, which means endless.octopuses.) will experience mass cellular suicide and die.

8. They are intelligent lifeforms that can do things like open jars using one of its many arms. I have no interest in intelligent, venomous animals that can fit into any opening, grow up to 30 feet in length, and crush me using its multiple pairs of arms. Also, having 3 hearts means they’re practically unstoppable.

e1wfplx

Introducing My New Best Friend (a post by Lee)

Y’all. As of today at 11:22am Central Standard Time, I officially became a petowner.

Meet my Best Friend!

Meet my Best Friend!

You see, I have a history of making impulsive decisions. I regularly delude myself into thinking I’m a proper adult — I pay my bills on time, get my car detailed, and occasionally cook things made out of real vegetables. Then, inevitably, I go and do something like buy $135 worth of Harry Potter Lego to remind myself that I am basically an overgrown 12 year-old playing dress-up. (An aside: That actually was one of the better decisions I’ve ever made. It’s a great conversation piece, and Jordie and I while away many evenings playing Harry Potter. In our interpretation, Harry joins Team Voldemort, kisses then kills Hermione, and — if I am voicing him — possesses a terrible Cockney accent.)

Interestingly, this set doesn't include Ron.

Interestingly, this set doesn’t include Ron, so he’s never around to defend Hermione’s honor.

These urges are irrepressible. So when I woke up yesterday morning with the idea in my head that it could be fun to own a fish, I knew I was doomed. I contacted Jordie — generally the voice of fiscal reason in my life — to see how he felt about the idea. For a man who hates animals, he was surprisingly amenable:

email

Encouraged, I spent all of Friday afternoon researching good pet fish for beginners (Betta fish are best!), sending frenzied messages to anyone I thought might have relevant fish experience, and brainstorming potential names (Catherine Betta-Jones was obviously my preferred name for a ladyfish). I obsessed all day and night about getting a fish. You could say I was hooked.

Finally, this morning, the big moment came. Jordie and I got to PetSmart at about 10:45am. Unfortunately, that time coincided with the beginning of the puppy and kitten adoption session. A saleswoman thrust a small kitten into my arms, almost turning the story of “The Time I Got A Fish” to “The Time I Went To Buy A Fish And Instead Adopted 3 Kittens.”

I don't even like cats but was already imagining a beautiful future with this one.

I don’t even like cats but was already imagining a beautiful future with this one.

Somehow we extracted ourselves from the large animal section without buying a new furry friend and located the fish area. I picked out my Betta fish from the selection — a beautiful guy swimming about idly in his container who reeled me in with his attractive red scales. I left Big Red on the shelf while Jordie and I selected decorations for my tank. Y’all, there are some excellent tank decorations out there. I almost spent $7.99 on a fake, mossy Eiffel Tower — “We can teach him French!” — but it was too big. Tant pis! I eventually settled on the cheap minimalist option of some gravel and a miniature fake plant. When I returned to the Betta fish shelf, however, I noticed a fish that I liked even better than Big Red.

Conflict of emotions.

Conflict of emotions.

I was inherently and immediately drawn to More Exciting Fish. While, sure, Big Red was pretty and I liked him just fine right off the bat, More Exciting Fish swam around with intention and occasionally experienced what seem to be mild seizures. I was in love. Because of my crushing guilt complex, however, Jordie had to spend an unreasonable amount of time gently convincing me that Big Red’s feelings wouldn’t be hurt if I didn’t buy him. The conversation, all of which we later learned was overheard by the fish attendant, went something like this:

Lee: I love More Exciting Fish more than I love Big Red, but I told Big Red I was going to adopt him, so I feel like I have to take him.
Jordie: I think, with a big decision like this, you really need to go with what your heart desires. Big Red is going to be okay; I’m sure someone else will buy him soon. He’s beautiful.
Lee: What if he stops swimming because I spurned him? What if this is all a huge mistake? Is More Exciting Fish going to die from his seizure disorder, and then when I replace him with Big Red, is BR going to be a mean pet?
Jordie: I think you know what you really want and you just have to commit.

This continued for, no joke, 3 minutes before I finally took More Exciting Fish to the register. And, Dear Readers, what a mistake that WASN’T! I love MEF! He’s adjusted very well to life in my apartment. He swims constantly, although I worry about his appetite. It took him 45 minutes to eat all 4 pellets of his lunch. I performed First Day of My Life for him on the ukulele to let him know how happy I was that he’s my pet now, and he demonstrated his appreciation with one of his trademark seizures.

MEF remains, at this point, nameless. I’m temporarily calling him 610 after the interstate that defines Inner Houston. I simply haven’t yet been inspired by a name adequate enough to encompass his wonderful personality, but I probably will be soon. I’m sure he doesn’t mind waiting. Betta late than never, after all.

Office Space (a post by Lee)

For reasons unclear, my office at work attracts a variety of foul creatures – and I’m not referring to my students.

It all began last March, when I noticed strange squeaking noises emanating from my printer. I opened the paper tray to discover this:

Yes, folks, a mouse converted my printer into his vacation home.

A few months later, my coworkers and I were enjoying lunch together when one of them concernedly asked, pointing to a spot on the floor, “Uh, what is that?” You know what it was? Cat poop. There was cat poop on the floor. How in the hell it got there, I will never know. I immediately wigged out, seeking something, anything, that could purify the air particles around me. My supervisor, on the other hand, who after 40 years in education is apparently fazed by nothing, simply walked over, picked it up with a tissue, disposed of it in our trash can, and then continued eating.

And then came the Great Fruit Fly Invasion of 2012. This time not just my office was affected – the entire upper school was wholly infiltrated by fruit flies. I attribute this infestation to two causes in particular:

1. Children are disgusting. They discard their teenage shrapnel all over the school – items ranging from chunks of challah bread to underwear (yes, this actually happened) – inviting all sorts of insects and critters into our hallowed halls.

2. The head of school’s dog is a jerk. He’s developed a habit of entering our office after all of us have left and knocking over our trash bin in his quest for leftovers.

After appeals to the maintenance staff and the CFO to spray down the building or institute a rule banning students from eating food outside of the cafeteria went unanswered, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I spent an entire morning designing multiple types of homemade fruit fly death traps to spread around the office. My most effective trap – a glass jar filled with apple cider vinegar and a couple pumps of dish soap (to break the surface tension) – killed over 100 flies in 6 hours. My least effective trap – ersatz flypaper (honey spread on cardboard) – killed one. But every death counts in this war of attrition, y’all.

I am The Exterminator.

After 3 days, the flies were fully eradicated. My actions even provided a learning opportunity: a few students asked me for help in establishing their own fruit fly death traps. I thought my office space woes were over until I arrived at work this morning, only to discover that mosquito season has begun; I got bit within seconds of sitting at my desk. It never ends…

We Are the Warriors! (a post by Anna)

In early 2011, I learned about The Warrior Dash. If you aren’t familiar with this event, it’s a 5k involving an obstacle every 1/3 mile such as jumping over flames, trudging under barbed wire in a mud pit, and running through tires. At the end of the race, you get a t-shirt, viking helmet, and a beer. How could I resist?

Warriors Unite!

Jordie, Lee, and I took our training very seriously, mostly because we didn’t want to look like fools in front of the other 10,000 participants on the day of the race. Jordie took to outdoor running, Lee adopted a gym routine, and I joined a community swim team. I personally had to overcome many obstacles in order to exercise: boredom (exercise is soooo boring), humiliation (the lane placement was based on speed, which is why I swam with an 85 year old), and pride (accidentally going into the men’s locker room – in my defense, it wasn’t clearly marked).

By the end of two months of training, we were strangely in shape. It was weird.

The day of the race, fear took over my instincts. I could no longer complete normal tasks. I found myself asking Lee and Jordie if it was ok to ties my shoes or brush my hair. Everyone else warmed up in the parking field.

As you can see, Jordie really gave 100% during warm ups.

We piled on a school bus and headed to the race track.

Lee missed the memo to touch her face in this photo.

Though there were few photos from the race, we look particularly unexciting in this gem.

Cautiously approaching barbed wire.

Eventually we made it to the end.

The Finish Line!

The race was everything we hoped for and more. Jordie strained a muscle, the kegs ran dry before we got done, and Lee somehow finished entirely clean. It was AWESOME!

Fun Fun Fun Fest leads to fun fun fun. (a post by Anna)

We never turn down a good road trip. Shadood invited us to meet her in Austin so that she could share in the memories of Lee’s first music festival.

Pure bliss at Fun Fun Fun Fest.

We also all had our first experience with SunChips 100% compostable bag!

The 100% Compostable Bag really lived up to my expectations.

At the end of our exciting reunion with Shadood, we forced a cowboy hat photo on her and said our goodbyes.

The routine cowboy hat photo.

Before heading back to Houston, Lee and I made our last Austin stop, which involved a tiny bar, live music, and betting on a chicken’s bowel movements.

Final Destination: Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon.

We showed up at Ginny’s Little Longhorn just in the nick of time and took the last table, conveniently located next to the complimentary chili dog bar. (Still unsure of why there was a small table with free hot dogs and chili, but it was a nice gesture by Ginny nonetheless.)

Lee was incredibly happy to be here.

The honky-tonk, country band began playing right as we sat down, and their music took me back to Tennessee. My grandmother, who’s a little hard of hearing, used to blast that music on her 8 track throughout my childhood, so I was right at home.

The place was packed in no time for what turned out to be the most hilarious game of bingo I’ve ever played.

The basics: A crowd forms around a pool table, which is covered with a small chicken coop that has gridded numbers on the bottom. Each participant pays $2 for a numbered square into the coop. If the chicken happens to do her business upon your number, you win $100!

Gotta love that Nascar light fixture!

After paying our entrance into this game of bingo, Ginny herself arrived with Sissy the famous chicken. Once Sissy was placed inside the crate, the fun began.

The star of the evening.

Now, I’ll say this: lil’ Sissy had been fed so much, that you expect her to do the dirty immediately. But in our case, she was delayed an unexpected 40 minutes!! (Apparently Sissy usually acts quickly, but our week was a fluke.)

A packed house.

It’s times like these I’m reminded of the simplicity of people. Folks ranging from ages 6 to 60 stood around and watched that chicken for a full 40 minutes. We were too excited to take our eyes off her. We laughed, we cried, we cheers-ed our neighbors. In the end, we lost that round of bingo (though her behind DID spend quite a bit of time on Lee’s number). And then we realized we were only out $2.

This experience once again proves that it doesn’t take much to entertain us.

Night at the Museum (a post by Anna)

There’s a hype in Houston right now concerning Lois, the famous corpse flower. Lois is over five feet tall and quite a rarity, since only 29 of these flowers have ever bloomed in the US. The museum’s corpse flower experts predicted Lois to bloom last week, so we joined the crew of Houstonians to go see her.

We started out the evening by going to Miller Outdoor Theatre with some friends. They have free outdoor events, and Little Shop of Horrors set the mood for the evening.

Pumped for Little Shop of Horrors!

After the play, we strolled across the street to the The Houston Musuem of Natural Science. The fact that is was nearing midnight didn’t matter, considering the musuem is currently opened 24 hours a day, just for Lois. You never know what time of day she might bloom! I learned several things along the way.

1. Lois gets her name, corpse flower, from the fact that she will smell like rotting flesh when she blooms.

Lee prepared for the smell of rotting flesh.

2. Lois wasn’t the only HUGE thing at the museum.

A giant caterpillar!

3. Lee hates bugs. Of course, this isn’t anything new.

Surrounded by spiders and cockroaches.

Then the moment we had been waiting for transpired. We reached Lois. She was ginormous!

That's Lois.

After spending a few minutes hoping Lois would just hurry up and bloom while we were present, I turned around to find myself surrounded by reeeeally tall people. I guess she attracts this type of crowd.

The men behind me are even taller than Robert Lord Galloway!

Lee and I spent the rest of our visit wandering around the maze of the butterfly garden.

No idea why I posed like this.


Looking back, I really have no idea why we took these photos.

[After posting these photos, Lee reminded me that we were pretending to be dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Of course.]

The grand finale occurred when we accidentally found ourselves surrounded by sprinklers. I’ve got an inkling that they turn on at midnight.

Lee's Herbal Essences commercial shot.

Since our visit, Lois has still not bloomed. We’ll let you know if we go back once she blossoms!

Lee’s first encounter with crabs. (a post by Anna)

If you know Lee, you may know she saves adventure for everything except her appetite. Though she has come a long way from her high school years of fast food, she still questions anything that appears to be exotic. Even so, if you kindly ask her to try something new, she will approach the food with an open mind and an open heart. During a past weekend, Lee exited her comfort zone to experience something new: crabs.

It all begin when a friend invited us to a crab boil! We were excited to hang out with friends, so we opted to attend. Lee has never really felt inclined to pig out on shellfish, but she stayed unbiased in an effort to enjoy this new experience. This would be Lee’s first time to have crabs – an adventure for everyone involved.

Upon arrival, she was immediately handed a live crab. She tried to cover her emotions, yet her look of horror was transparent. Lee showed her ability to compromise for the benefit of others as she agreed to pose for a photo, on the terms that the crab would be out of sight immediately following the photo shoot. These terms were sustained until the feast began.

timid lee

When feeding time arrived, Lee’s terror-stricken poise had devolved. She was at ease, due to the camaraderie and presence of sparkler fireworks surrounding her.

with sparkers

She looked entirely pleasant until Ruby appeared with the cooked crabs. That’s when Lee began to tremble. She watched with wide eyes as everyone began to mallet their crabs. “Timid” best describes her approach to having crabs for the first time. Luckily, she had Loyal Liz beside her, cheering all along the way.

timid lee, with crab

Lee’s face showed distress. She just kept saying, “I feel sad. I was just holding this in my hand, and it was alive. And now we are slamming a mallet into it.” Regardless, she tested the waters and tasted several bites crab. Through bravery and determination, Lee Mimms overcame her fears of crabs. The end.