Tues., April 3, 42 A.B.
"When splitting firewood, some logs come apart easily, with a single blow from a sharp ax. Others can be much more stubborn, requiring that a wedge or two be driven into the wood before it finally splits. When amoebas are reproducing (which they do asexually, dividing in two as a furrow develops between them), they usually split quite easily. Sometimes, however, the furrow stops developing and the reproductive process stops. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have discovered that in some cases, a struggling amoeba gets help. It calls in a 'wedge' of its own - another amoeba, which forces itself into the furrow and pushes the offspring apart, breaking any remaining connection. Writing in Nature, the researchers said a few neighboring amoebas appeared to respond when one had difficulty, but only one, usually whichever was nearest, actually helped out. These 'midwife' organisms are attracted by a chemical from the reproducing amoeba." - The New York Times
Ok, so all that may not mean much to you, but it sure meant a lot to me yesterday when I finally got around to reading this story from March 27. For one thing, I finally understood how to split a stubborn log without ruining any more of my kitchen utensils in the process. For another, it was a great relief to learn that U.S. researchers aren't the only ones on this planet tackling the Really Big Questions.
The main reason I loved reading this story, however, is that it changed my life.
For some time now I've been feeling this odd pressure in my groin area. The last month or so that feeling has intensified and shifted to my perineum. Rather annoying, but I kept thinking, "Nah, nobody else is complaining about the odd pressure I'm feeling between my legs. Must just be me." This article prompted me to finally get down on my hands and knees and take a look. That's when I found an actual amoeba (maybe even the one mentioned in the story!) doing its utmost to "help" me finish splitting. Apparently sometime last fall I had unknowingly sat in a puddle of chemicals amoeba midwives find absolutely irresistible. Or maybe my long, gangly legs had fooled a particularly near-sighted amoeba midwife into thinking I'd tried to split in two and gotten stuck. I admit, I often do wildly flail my arms in the air exactly as if I am stuck, but that's merely a little ritual that I've been told by many children keeps us from being haunted by the ghosts of the mosquitoes we have killed.
Anyway. I read. I looked. I found an amoeba trying to split my guts asunder. I marched right down to the courthouse and had it slapped with a restraining order.
Goodness! Whoever would have guessed that such a little guy had so much splatter in him??
(© 2:48 p.m. by someone who looks so much like DJ Birtcher that if it isn't
DJ Birtcher we simply have no idea who it might be)
THE REST OF THE ENTRY: After reading the above story in the New York Times, I went on to see if I could read it again in the Los Angeles Times. I've long been curious to see if the exact same amoeba story might be played differently on the two coasts, and after much deliberation I decided that this was as good an opportunity to find out as any. Alas, whoever covers amoebas for the Los Angeles Times seems to be on vacation this year, so instead I read a story about Blue Man Group. Simply put, they're this group of men who just happen to be blue. And like to beat on big plastic pipes. And, as it happens, win Grammys. The point is that they have little, if any, resemblance to amoebas; and although there are at least 3 main Blue Men (plus some 30 others now beating on big plastic pipes from Boston to Las Vegas), not a one has ever insinuated himself in my groin area and pushed. For this I am immensely grateful.
All of which is just my round-about way of announcing that I'm now in the mood to become rich and famous myself doing something charmingly nonsensical. Since this simply isn't possible for a variety of legal, philosophical, and biological reasons, I would like to help YOU become rich and famous doing something charmingly nonsensical in exchange for nothing more than your giving me full credit for your success (plus 65% of the net). Sound too good to be true? Well, truth be told, there are a few minor catches. Here they are:
1) You must be female.
2) You must be willing to shave your head and paint yourself green.
3) You must be able to remember that all your motel reservations and booking gigs from now on have been made for you under the name of "Green Gal Clique."
4) You must sign a waiver stating that I am not responsible for any hideously hued children resulting from any unauthorized co-performances with Blue Man Group.
5) You are personally responsible for protecting yourself from overly helpful amoeba midwives.
Feel free to audition for me by beating on a big plastic pipe at your convenience.