Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Useless Knowledge From The Files Of Hillbilly Mom

My classes kicked off the new year by reading Science World magazine. It's something I toss out every couple of weeks between units to get them into the real world of science, not just a textbook of facts. We read it together and have a discussion and I dig deeper into the internet for some stories and hook up my notSmartBoard to Shiba to show them. Then they have to write an opinion paper about one or more of the topics.

This week, we had Michael Phelps. Did you know that he is 6'4" and 195 pounds? Yet he has the torso of a man 6'8", the legs of a man 6'0", and size 14 feet which are one size too large for his height, and hands the size of dinner plates? Oh, and he's ultraflexible. Which led one young lass to comment that no wonder he's a champion, because he's got the body of an ape and needs to wear clown shoes. And she's seen him warm up before swimming, and he flaps his ape arms across his back until he looks like he's trying to fly. So look out, world, for the new class of people who want to win gold medals--the monkey-chicken-fish people.

Another article was about the woman with the longest fingernails in the world. She has them on BOTH hands, and they are all weeping-willowish, long and swaying, and they look yellow. The woman herself has white hair and painted-on eyebrows, which led students to wonder who puts on her make-up and her clothes and how does she scratch or go to the bathroom. Another thoughtful, empathetic lass wrote, "I'm writing about the long fingernail lady. She looks like a crazy cat lady, and that black dress reminds me of the hateful lady in 102 Dalmations. I would like to break into her house and wash her hair and take a pair of garden shears and hack off those fingernails."

In order to give equal time, I looked up the man with the longest fingernails. He is from India, and has the long nails on only ONE hand. His have gone all curly-fryish, except for the thumbnail, which he keeps rolled into a coil like some flat wire to hook up a TV. He has lost hearing in the ear on that side, from nerve damage. It looks like he has not take such good care of his nails, but then again, being a man, he probably had to hold down a full time job while being a freak of a record-holder.

Not to leave a stone unturned, I also checked on the worlds longest toenails. They are not quite so long, maybe 12 inches or so, with one a bit longer. They are hideous, actually, and I'm not linking them because I don't like feet to begin with. The story I found about the woman said that she first started to grow her toenails a little longer to be pretty in sandals. Then she got carried away. Her husband got mad and said, "I've known you for 21 years. You have to make a choice, me or the toenails." That looney toon chose the toenails, so her husband divorced her. Apparently there was plenty of family where he came from, because the notes said that her family gets together to help her care for her toenails a couple times a week. Whee doggies! What a good time that would be. It looks like she lets each one pick out a color to paint each toenail, because she's a regular rainbowfoot.

Those stories were better than the endangered Giant Kangaroo Rat, which has pouches in its cheeks but not on its belly like a real kangaroo. The feet are true kangaroo feet, though, and can be used to pummel other Giant Kangaroo Rats in a rumble. They can jump high to avoid predators, and use their long tails to change direction in mid-air. They are desert animals animals, and get most of their daily water from the seeds and grasses they eat. In fact, they could survive on seawater if they had to. Oh, and they come from California, and these giant rodents are FIVE INCHES LONG!

Time prevents me from delving in depth into the rubber duckies that NASA put in a glacier to track the flow of meltwater, the solar airplanes, the fish sauce that enabled scientists to determine that Mount Vesuvius romped over Pompeii on August 24, 79 AD (though who could prove that wrong), or the world's 20th-largest diamond, or the 0.06 inch fossil tooth of a shrew-like varmint found on Seymour Island, Antarctica.

Good thing they didn't have ol' Hillbilly Mom on that expedition, because she would have tossed out that varmint tooth like just another minute piece of debris. No telling how many diamonds she sloshed away at Crater of Diamonds State Park.


Chickadee said...

Remember me? I followed your blog and then I fell off the face of the blog earth for awhile cuz life got busy.

I'm back and yours is the first blog I'm reading!

Yea, I remember seeing a story on both the man and woman with the longest nails. Those nails are nasty looking and I remember thinking how much I would like to sneak in and hack those nails. But I think it would take a chainsaw to trim those nasty-looking things.

Hillbilly Mom said...

Of course I remember you. I was thinking about you just last month or so, when I finally added some links to my sidebar.

Last I remember, you were...let's see...working in a hardware(?) store part-time, and also taking kids on nature tour thingies, and I believe you'd found some abandoned kittens, and perhaps had some dental issues.

Oh, and you like the birdies.

I think that's pretty close, anyway. Welcome back!