April 20, 2017
If you think you’ve already tried all of the traditional ways of getting high such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and are looking for a new disgusting, unhygienic way to leave the planet earth for a while, then look no further than the banks of the Colorado River.
Hopping along the river’s shores in southern Arizona, California and northern New Mexico, the “Bufo Alvarius Toad” (also called the “Cane Toad” or “Colorado River Toad”) would otherwise be in danger of being a wolf’s or Gila Monster’s main course if it weren’t for a highly toxic venom it produces whenever it gets agitated – the same venom that can get you high as a kite if properly ingested.
The venom produced by the Bufo Alvarius Toad is a concentrated chemical called “bufotenine” that also happens to contain the hallucinogen, “5-MeO-DMT.” Ingested directly from the toad’s skin in toxic doses, bufotenine is powerful enough to kill dogs and other small animals. However, when ingested in other ways – such as smoking – the toxic bufotenine burns off leaving only 5-MeO-DMT that can produce an intense, albeit, short-lived rush that has been described as “100 times more powerful than LSD or magic mushrooms,” even if it takes a lot more work to get it.
The scene in the Hollywood movie is a leather-jacketed hero who scuffles with a bad guy, walks through the snow and then guns his motorcycle engine before zooming off into the night. But, what really happened was the actor’s double punched a roasted chicken with a rubber kitchen glove and squeezed two balloons together while walking on a sandbox filled with cornstarch. That’s showbiz…
Things Are Not What They Seem
For most of us, the sounds of a movie are as entertaining as the visual experiences. But, unbeknownst to most viewers, the lion share of sounds and special effects are not captured at the time of filming. Instead, they’re either recorded in the studio by highly imaginative technicians called “Foley Artists” or pulled from a library of pre-recorded sound bites that are stored on computers until the sound is mixed for the movie.
The term Foley Artist began as early as 1927 when Al Jolson’s movie, “The Jazz Singer” became the first “talkie.” In those days, the dialogue of the actors superseded virtually all other sound or music recorded for the film. It wasn’t until the early 1950s that movie studios discovered they could enhance the overall quality of the movie goer’s experience by adding specialized sounds that were purposely stripped away during filming in favor of an actor’s spoken lines.
When you look down at your feet, do your shoes give away your birthplace, income level or your social status? Do they tell the world what you do for a living, what your hobbies are or whether or not you’re married? Well, they used to.
You Are What You Wear
Shoes have been around in one form or another for thousands of years. Some of the earliest shoes were actually sandals worn by Egyptians and depicted the owner’s pecking order in society. Peasants tended to wear “comfortable” sandals made from woven papyrus with a flat sole that were lashed to their ankles with reeds. More affluent citizens could be identified by sandals with pointed toes – especially if they were colored red or yellow. If you were a slave, chances are you went without shoes altogether.
When Moses climbed Mount Sinai to chat with God, the big guy obviously wasn’t impressed by his footwear. Instead, he commanded Moses to “Put off thy shoes, for the ground whereon thou standest is holy.” Discarding one’s shoes was and continues to be in many societies a demonstration of humility and piety. But, for the rest of us, shoes continue to speak volumes about who we are, how much money we make and what we do for a living. Many Greek aristocrats owned so many pairs of shoes that they hired slaves to carry them when they traveled.
One of the last things a patient imagines seeing as they look across a sterile operating room are leeches, maggots and scum-sucking fish. But, all three have earned a solid place in the medical community based on the results they achieve – simply by doing what comes naturally.
The Flies Have It
Maggots are nothing more than fly larvae: one of the most basic forms of life. But to many patients with wounds that refuse to respond to conventional treatment, they are a godsend. For the majority of people recovering from life-threatening wounds, contusions and limb re-attachments, antibiotics provide much of the follow-up care they need. But for a small percentage of patients who do not respond to modern medicines, maggots slither in to fill the gap.
Unlike most other living creatures, maggots thrive on dead tissue. Applied to a dressing that is made in the form of a small “cage”, maggots are applied to almost any area that does not respond well to conventional treatment. The 1mm maggot thrives on consuming dead tissue (a process called “debridement”), while ignoring healthy areas. After several days, the maggots are removed after having consumed up to ten times their own weight in dead tissue, cleaning the wound and leaving an ammonia-like anti-microbial enzyme behind.
If you’re one of those people who wake up in the morning complaining about “not feeling yourself” or are constantly hunting down new pimples and fighting back the hair in your ears, you could have bigger problems.
Here are six syndromes and disorders documented in the medical literature of unusual maladies that have made the news but possibly missed your attention. While none of them are considered life-threatening disorders, they do represent some of the nasty tricks the body plays on us.
Who is That in the Mirror?
Take the case of Robert (not his real name) who was recently diagnosed with Capgras Syndrome, a rare psychological disorder that makes the sufferer suspicious of their own reflection in the mirror – or anyone else’s.
Capgras victims have difficulty making physical and emotional connections with the people, places and things that they see, even if they’ve been a part of their lives for years. They’ll see their reflections in a mirror or other shiny surfaces and wonder who the stranger is that’s peering back at them.