Tag Archives: kvetch

Casualities of the Road

Last week my mom and I drove from Kansas City to Glacier over a couple of days. The Midwest-Montana connection is a journey I have made more times than I can remember, but the last time Moms did it with me we (well, I should say I, because she found it morbid and perhaps a little unnerving) started a tradition.

Perhaps you have a road trip tradition. Maybe it involves playing I Spy, eating condiment sandwiches, looking for different states’ licence plates, or singing songs about washing your neck, like I used to do as a kid with my grandparents. Those are all great, but that’s not what we do.

Nope, we count animal casualties on the road. But in a non-creepy way. Yeah, I mean road kill, though I don’t like that term. Yes, it is depressing, but it does pass the time, and it does make you bear witness a little, and it does provide some vague ecological commentary about our country — heavy on the raccoon the first day, none by the last day, and so on.

road casualities

The drive is nearly 1500 miles and 22 hours, not including bi-hourly pee breaks. During our three-day journey we encountered at least 181 fallen fuzzies. The mile/kill ratio was by far the highest the first day between Kansas City and Mitchell, SD.

181 animals. It’s a number worth thinking about.

111 unidentifiable small furry creatures
23 raccoon (17 on the first day, none on the last)
15 deer
11 skunks
8 birds
4 coyote
4 squirrels
2 bunnies
2 pronghorn
1 porcupine
1 dog
and 2 black shoes


Attack of the Super Bugs!

I’m not talking about Shelob and her eight-legged cronies, or Capitol-engineered tracker jackers, or killer bees… I’m talking about something much more terrifying — antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Credit: Mariana Ruiz / Public Domain

Credit: Mariana Ruiz / Public Domain

I’ve recently been reading a lot about how we humans are kinda wired to fear the wrong things. I’ll save the psychology behind this for a different day, but suffice to say, we tend to worry more about being bitten in half by sharks, mauled by bears, shot by snipers, or dying in a fiery plane crash than the things that will in reality most likely kill us — car accidents (in the US, at least), poor health, cancer, and to my mind, the various and inevitable manifestations of climate change.

Super bugs are easy to put out of your fear-mongering mind because they won’t knock on your door at night or snatch you out of the woods… which is interesting, because they do have the potential to just, you know, wipe out half the humans in the world if they get a solid run, Plague-style.

Anyway, check out my latest long-form SciShow episode to add another horror to your fear bank, and hear all about how crafty bacteria can be, how we fight it, how it fights back, and how it could ultimately rock our world again and again.





We’ve had our puppy Hazel for about eight months now, which is long enough to distinguish her preferences. I’m a big fan of list-making, and I bet if she had opposable thumbs she’d have a diary full of lists and longings and tiny hearts… But let us start with her anti-preferences.

Hazel, Dislikes:
1. Power Outages
Add to that smoke alarms and things that beep in general. We’ve been having a lot of power outages lately, and she’s been a little strung out.

2. The Sound of Snow Sliding off the Roof
The long scrape and slide punctuated by a heavy thwamp gets Baby Girl all nervous and ears-back. The other day she insisted on trying to sit on my lap while I worked. She weighs 65 pounds.

3. Being Left Behind
Disbelief! Outrage! Despair!

4. Salt Water
Ocean water was initially placed on Hazel’s list of likes, for about an hour, until we all learned a messy but valuable lesson on the meaning of salt flushes.

Hazel, Likes:
1. Lotion
Although she doesn’t worry about her own moisturizing regime, she does have an intense and kind of gross obsession with licking belotioned body parts. Sometimes she waits outside the bathroom while I shower, then pounces on my feet when I come out. The scent of lavender or sound of hands rubbing together can literally make her run across the room, licking her chops.

2. Antlers
Yeah, she has her bones and sticks and dog toys, but her favorite, the one she keeps returning to week after week, is a special moose antler. I am not exaggerating when I say she has now consumed about a foot of it through pure perseverance, saliva, and tooth-gnawing.

3-6. Crotches, wrasslin’, sneaking onto the bed, eggs, thievery, a good sniff
Pretty standard, self-explanatory dog stuff.

7. Fire
Oh, she loves sitting in front of the wood stove and watching the flames lick the glass. Although yesterday she did singe her tail, so I guess it swings both ways.

8. Popcorn
She must get this from me. I can shake the jar of kernels and she comes running, then sits expectantly in front of the popper, waiting for the inevitable errant corn to hit the ground.

9. Jeans/Shoes
As in, mine. Kind of embarrassing that the mere act of me putting on real pants and durable footwear solicits such a happy dance. That’s my bad.

10. Friends, Lovers
Hazel loves all of her human and dog friends. . . but her main boo is resident Lothario, Woody. If sirens were furry males, Woody would be one. He’s huge and gorgeous, and basically a wolf. With balls. Even I have a crush on him. Naturally Hazel is madly in love with him, and while they are adorable together, Woody is a capable wanderer, and Hazel would happily follow him into a pit of rabid kittens, and so every now and again, he comes knocking, and they play, and then he lures my baby away.

This has happened on more than one occasion, resulting in a wild-haired me shouting repeatedly, then jumping in the car to head them off at the far side of the woods. I hate these situations for lots of reasons, chiefly because 1) I don’t want anyone getting hit by car, train, wolf-pack, curmudgeonly neighbor, etc., and 2) I despise having to break up a clandestine rendezvous. I hate feeling like the joy kill, especially when Woody is so cool. It feels like I am embarrassing Hazel. Like I just busted her in the neighbor boy’s basement, drunk on Fuzzy Navel wine coolers. Except unlike a teen, she didn’t froth I hate you! and slam a door, but rather just fell into herself, looking pathetic as I lectured her on making better choices. 

Sometimes it’s hard being the bad cop.

Could My Browser History Land Me In Jail?

Well, there’s a question. If the great eye of The Man is monitoring our most “interesting” internet moves, what exactly constitutes a red flag these days?

I’m a very curious person by nature. In general I enjoy the informational rabbit hole the internet provides. But now that my work requires constant research on a variety of odd science-y topics, I fear my browser history might betray me through false representation.


It probably doesn’t help that I live in a cabin in the woods in rural Montana. If I were a man I would no doubt have some sort of outlandish recluse’s beard for the fall. (Instead I have crazy Witch Hair.) I think traditionally that combination of factors probably already earns a person a spot on a list somewhere. And yeah, we’ve got some bones in the yard. Okay, and several skulls in the house, too. And a variety of axes, knives, machetes, and whathaveyou. I mean, Montana, guys.

But contrary to what my computer history would indicate, I do not have a barrel of severed heads in my basement. Hell, I don’t even have a basement! I am not, in fact, in the market for powdered tiger penis or anthrax, nor am I looking for lifestyle tips from Nazi doctors.  My curiosity about blood drives, weird body hair, cannibals, and dead bodies is purely professional.  I’m not into killing rabbits or procuring plutonium or buckets of lye.

So if that stealthy, clandestine black van ever pulls up, someone, please, have my back, eh?