Big bugs, Chocolate-covered Tomatoes, and a Game of Wife-slinging

“Go to bed in your fireplace, you’ll sleep like a log.”  Ellen DeGeneres.  

Is it me or are bugs getting bigger and stranger?  Seriously.  I went cycling the other day and something was flying along beside me that looked like an insect (scaly and ugly), but was bird-sized.  I don’t know what the hell this thing eats and, now that I come to think of it, I’m probably better off not knowing.   Disturbing encounters like these always make me imagine the following scenario:

All of the beetles, slugs, grubs, moths, ants, spiders, worms, fleas, flies, and every other bug-related life form in my half acre of property are rounded up and poured into one giant room with white walls and floors.  How big would the pile be?  What “never-seen-before” creatures would I be subjected to?  Would I ever want to step in my lawn again?  Probably not.

Which brings me to the first new fact that I learned today:

1)  I know it can’t help how it looks, but this thing is hideous.  It also looks like something that has walked the earth for millions of years.  In fact, this would be the perfect foe for a resurrected Mothra flick.

I used to think these were June bugs.  Someone in my childhood wrongly taught me this–a cautionary tale for any adult who likes to ply their child with bull@$%&.  June bugs and their cousins the May bug (honest, they exist) are much smaller and benign-looking.

This monster is, in fact, a “Giant Water Bug,” also known as the Lethocerus.  He is basically harmless, unless you are a smaller bug, a frog, a fish, or a salamander.  But, man, he is ugly.  And when he accidentally flies into your garage door, he makes quite the thud.  I guess I should just be thankful it wasn’t my forehead.

2)  I love Japanese inventions.  Remember the square watermelon and the girlfriend’s lap pillow?  Well, here’s a real dandy.

Let’s face it–chocolate is one of the world’s most beloved foods.  And some things make the perfect chocolate companion.  Peanut Butter is my favourite co-flavour.  Some people like chocolate-covered cherries or chocolate with mint.  And right now, Aero has re-introduced their yummy orange-middled chocolate bar.  mmmm.

But, it would seem that the Japanese crave something completely different–chocolate and tomato.  My tender North American senses can’t even imagine what this combo would taste like.  A baby’s diaper springs to mind.

I think this video says it all.  Nothing like sugary tomato soup to brighten your day.

3)  Okay, now let’s leave Asia and head to Scandinavia–Finland, to be exact.  It would appear that for centuries, the Finnish have partaken in a strange, yet jovial ritual–competitive wife-carrying.

Yes, strong male Finns fling their damsels over their shoulders and lug them through an obstacle course that includes water, what appears to be short horse-jumping fences, mounds of sand, and bales of hay.  The winner is the one who completes the course in the fastest time.

Unlike American Reality TV contests like Amazing Race and Fear Factorthis contest does not land the victors a hefty cash payout.  Instead, the prize is beer.  And the amount of beer depends on how much the wife weighs–which in itself causes quite a conundrum.  It’s easier to win with a feather-light wife, but the payout is bigger if she’s failed at Jenny Craig.