Archive for the ‘Bad Nature’ Category

BAD NATURE – Frog Rain

Frog Rain
You just can’t trust the weatherman. He tells you that it’s going to rain, and it’s sunny outside. He says that there won’t be any snow tomorrow, and then you can’t get your car out of the driveway. Oh, and he forgot to mention that huge torrent of frogs pouring down from the sky in front of you.

You might be surprised to learn that frog rain is an actual (albeit quite rare) meteorological phenomenon. Thousands of people, a few of them even respectable, have supposedly witnessed the incidents firsthand (often with a “Hmm… what’s that plummeting towards me… *SPLAT!*”) There are numerous theories as to the cause, mostly having to do with waterspouts picking up the animals from a nearby lake or stream and transporting them at rapid speeds through the air.

Why it always tends to be frogs is a bit more of a mystery. The tadpoles may be easier to transport than other forms of aquatic life, which then complete their transformation during the journey. Or maybe Kermit is a secret weather wizard bent on destroying his human oppressors. Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to pack an umbrella – you never know when you might suffer an unexpected delay due to ‘Aerial Amphibious Bombardment’.


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You may have noticed that many metropolitan cities suffer from animal problems. Some are plagued by hordes of pigeons. Others are burdened with infestations of rats. Santa Cruz is renowned for its high banana slug population. The whole country of India, however, has recently experienced a somewhat amusing dilemma – most of the land has been invaded by swarms of monkeys. Tiny furry ones who can jump about and climb on every surface and sneak into people’s homes with great efficiency.

This might initially seem kind of cool, but these monkeys are fiendishly intelligent. They know how to open doors, and break into cupboards, and eat your hidden stash of bananas. They also throw their feces at folks they don’t like with remarkable accuracy. As such, India has spent a tremendous amount of money and resources trying to curtail the constantly-growing simian population. Nothing has successfully worked, though (the monkeys simply steal the food out of the traps and give the people the finger), so living with the furry thieves may simply become a sad fact of life.

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Roy Sullivan was an U.S. park ranger known for a rather dubious distinction: he would get hit by lightning on no less than seven separate occasions. Considering that the chances of being struck are about 1 in 3000, this makes him one of the unluckiest people in history. His bad fortune would get him into the Guinness Book of World Records, and after the fourth incident, he supposedly began carrying a bucket of water around so he’d have something to cool himself off with if (when) he was hit again. The unfortunate incidents are listed as follows:

1942 – The first lightning strike occurred while Roy was at a lookout tower, and the sheer force of the blast managed to knock away his big toenail.
1969 – The second time happened while he was out driving and burnt off his eyebrows.
1970 – The third incident took place when he was standing in his front yard, prompting one of his shoulders was burned badly.
1972 – The next lightning bolt struck Roy at a ranger station and lit his hair on fire.
1973 – The fifth strike, perhaps the most comical, hit him on the head and knocked him out of his car, setting his hair on fire once again.
1974 – The sixth episode was at a campground and resulted in an injured ankle, along with a profound realization that the forces of the universe really hated him.
1977 – The final lightning strike occurred while he was out fishing, and sent him to the hospital with severe chest and stomach burns.

He died in 1983 of natural causes.

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Every year, in the deep forests of Sumatra, a little bit of magic happens. The Amorphophallus Titanum, known colloquially as the “Corpse Flower”, blooms for botanists and tourists lucky enough to experience it. The top nearly reaches ten feet high as the inflorescence gradually heats up, using a natural process of metabolizing sugar to achieve this end, until the time is right and the plant is ready to give off its natural perfume. One that just happens to smell like a funeral home in August that accidentally forgot to leave the air conditioning on.

There’s actually a very good reason for this. The corpse flower doesn’t get pollinated through normal means (it has a long standing feud with bumblebees), so it uses beetles and common houseflies to help spread its pollen grains around. They’re attracted by the smell of rotting meat, because that’s where they have to lay their eggs, and so travel from corpse flower to corpse flower in search of the dead body providing the delicious aroma. A classic tale of bait and switch, and one that the putrescent towering plant should be ashamed of.

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Everybody loves bumblebees. These friendly insects gladly create honey for human consumption, buzzing around merrily as they flit from flower to flower to spread life-giving pollen, tiny bee smiles on their tiny bee faces as they watch an adorable bear climb up a tree and stick his nose into their hive, only to accidentally lose his grip and fall backwards onto his fuzzy posterior. To say nothing of their impromptu woodland jamborees.

Killer bees, on the other hand, are an altogether different beast. They are much more aggressive, much more organized, and they have the word ‘killer’ in their name, which shows they mean business. Studies have proven that they swarm with far greater frequency, and there’s nothing more horrifying that the sight of hundreds of killer bees descending upon a schoolchild for the mere crime of throwing rocks at their hive. It is for this reason that they are considered one of the greatest threats to society today.

Each year, they encroach further into the American mainland, and it is only a matter of time before they completely overrun our cities. Unfortunately, there isn’t very much that can be done to counteract this, because they possess a remarkable ability to “recruit” other bees to their cause through the use of pheromones. There’s also the minor fact that killer bees produce more honey than regular bees, prompting many beekeepers to switch if they want to stay competitive. Such short-sighted fools have obviously never seen the 1978 TV movie, “The Savage Bees” starring Ben Johnson.

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Kudzu is an invasive, creepy-crawly type of perennial vine that originally comes from Japan. Farmers there have used it for centuries to improve the topsoil, allowing its natural processes to enhance nitrogen levels and transfer rich minerals to the earth. The substance can also be made into a jelly that tastes not unlike bubble gum, so it’s a win-win situation. It was thus introduced to the United States in 1876 as a clever means to reduce soil erosion, and conservationists everywhere planted it in great numbers at the solid recommendation of the federal government.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the southeastern U.S. has absolutely perfect conditions for kudzu to thrive. The sweltering heat, coupled with heavy rainfall and mild winters, enables the thick vines to blanket everything in sight. House abandoned? Covered in kudzu. Man stopping a moment to pick up a quarter? Covered in kudzu. The United States currently loses $500 million a year attempting to combat the perpetual expansion, and it’s a losing battle. Kudzu has already been found as far north as Pennsylvania, and while the environment there is not quite as ideal, the Amish are just far too polite to ask the offending vegetation to leave.

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