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.

Noisy Birds, Bugs Bunny, and Things That Smell

“An encyclopedia is a system for collecting dust in alphabetical order.” 
Mike Barfield.

I have always been fascinated with useless facts.  As a kid, I taught myself the U.S. states in alphabetical order.  I can still rhyme them off in record speed.  This is not exactly going to land me any jobs, but it did help me with the answer to a trivia question once.  Not everyone knows how many U.S. State names begin with the letter “M.”  Do you? I’ll give you a minute to count them and I’ll give you the answer at the end of the blog…

Meanwhile, here are today’s three riveting facts:

1) After a long, harsh Canadian winter, there is nothing more welcomed than the return of our red-bellied friend, the robin.  They’re cute–hopping around on the lawn, fluttering about in the bird bath, teaching their little ones to fly–but man, are they noisy.  There is nothing more frustrating than the repetitious tweets of the robin at 4:30 in the morning.  I’m a nature lover who avoids stepping on bugs if I can, but I have seriously contemplated braining one of these birds by propelling a shoe out my bedroom window.  Seriously–heave-ho and then “splat.”  No more noise.  Just a beak.

My husband, however, is much more pragmatic than I am.  He strives to understand what makes these “disturbers of the peace” tick…or in this case, tweet.  Here’s what he has discovered.  It’s our fault that the robin has been forced to adopt the role of avian alarm clock–a role traditionally held by another bird, I might add.  The rooster.

Humans are noisy.  Our normal waking hours are filled with a myriad of sounds.  And the poor robin can’t hear himself think, let alone talk to a friend in the distance.  Robins must sing to attract mates.  If the mates cannot hear them, the robin will die a childless, lonely spinster.  To avoid this fate, the robin has learned to chirp its aria when the rest of the world is silent–or snoring.

So, here’s hoping that the robins in my neighbourhood soon find that special someone.  And that I can finally get an undisturbed night’s sleep.

2)  June bugs freak me out.  They’re huge.  They’re crunchy.  And when they fly into you, they actually leave a dent.  Turns out the June bug is a lightweight in the insect world.

Enter the Giant Weta of New Zealand, the world’s largest insect.  And now, enter the largest Giant Weta of all, and you have entered horror movie territory.  This is the mother of all bugs.  In fact, she weighs as much as three mice.

Her name is Bugs Bunny as she is large enough to eat carrots.  Forget her size!  She has teeth that can chew carrots!  And her wingspan is seven inches.

In her defence, she never bit the hand that fed her.  She was returned to her tree and hopefully lived happily ever after.  Far, far away with oceans between us.  Phew.

3)  Nothing smells better than the aroma of freshly pumped petrol.  It’s not for everyone.  Smell is highly subjective.  After all, I am the girl who thinks that skunk smells like Tim Horton’s coffee.  But, as I was filling up my gas tank today, I began to wonder what are the most popular smells?  Certainly not my living room after a night of brown beans.

According to a survey conducted in Britain by a dish soap manufacturer, the Brits preferred scent is fish & chips.  That even sounds Coronation Street.  Two different American surveys turned up two different results.  One said Americans favoured Vanilla, while the other said they had a hankering for Banana.

And everyone’s least favourite smell seems to be the public washroom.  I concur.

What smell do you absolutely love?

And no, I haven’t forgotten to answer the question I asked about the number of American states that start with the letter “M”.  There are 8–Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, and Montana.