Friday: The 5 second rule
Part of the job at the secret agency where I work is to research weird and interesting stories. This week was a veritable cornucopia of bizarreness, mostly thanks to the American election campaign, where this week Trump said, among the many ridiculous things he says, that he now believes Obama is a US citizen (yes, Donald, Hawaii IS a part of the United States) and also that “they” should strip Hillary Clinton’s bodyguards’ sidearms and “see what happens”. (OK, is it just me or is this seriously illegal? I’m pretty sure that, under the law in Canada at least, if I posted on Facebook “Bob’s a liar and a crook. People should try to kill him”, I would be either arrested or sued. How does Trump get away with this sh*t? Are people, and especially the media, so distracted by the bread and circuses that they don’t see this as extremely unstable, lunatic behaviour? Yet, he still has a massive following, and if you really don’t believe that many of them fall into the “basket of deplorables” category that Clinton took so much flak for, then you haven’t read the comments section of ANY article on the US election that either dares to criticize Trump or praise Clinton. My rant is done.) Anyway, there was one article that really intrigued my work partners and me:
L: Did you read this? Apparently, the ‘5 second’ rule is now dead, according to Popular Science magazine. You should NEVER eat things that you’ve dropped on the floor. Apparently, bacteria can be attached to it in less than half a second.
K: Really? Doesn’t it depend on what the food is and where it lands?
Me: The carpet in here gets cleaned regularly…
Me: I mean, I wouldn’t eat something that had just dropped ANYWHERE. Like, if I dropped something on Yonge St., I would just leave it. And I’m not just talking about food. I mean, like a mitten, or anything.
K: Hahaha—no kidding!
So while we all agreed that you would just abandon anything that fell on the sidewalk in downtown Toronto (food, clothing, money, your grandma—pretty much everything), I was concerned about the ramifications of the article. If you’ve visited this site before, you’ll know that I have, on occasion, dropped a piece of popcorn into my scarf and proceeded to pick it out and eat it. And the other day, I dropped a Corn Pop on my kitchen floor, shrugged, then tossed it into the bowl with all the other “clean” Corn Pops. Did my ‘devil may care’ attitude mean I was in danger of contracting a deadly disease?
So when I got home last night, it was still on my mind, so much so that when I dropped a Swiss Chalet French fry on the floor and Titus swooped in, I stopped him.
Me: Whoa there! You can’t eat off the floor anymore. The 5 second rule is dead.
Titus: First of all, it’s the 5 DAY rule. Second of all, who says?
Me: Studies have shown that bacteria can attach itself to food before you have a chance to eat it.
Titus: What bacteria?! I licked that floor clean myself!
Me: Good to know. I will NEVER eat anything that I drop on it again.
Titus: Suit yourself. Now move your foot—I’m going in for that fry.
But I never worry about Titus. This is the same dog, if you remember, who ate a pound of grapes with no ill effects, and was caught chewing a dead deer jawbone that he ‘found’ in the backyard. I doubt very much if a little salmonella would slow him down—after all, he IS a Lab. It’s been scientifically proven that Labrador Retrievers have a genetic predisposition to eat until there’s nothing left. They have no shut-off valve, unlike all the other breeds of dog who will stop eating when they’re full and NOT think, “I feel like throwing up, but there’s more food!”
Case in point: Many years ago, Ken and I had a beautiful Golden Retriever named Byron. We got him because I was terrified of dogs. Now, that might not make much sense, but I was convinced that if we got a dog, I could learn to ‘read’ its signals and know when it was happy or angry, and thereby get over my phobia. So we got Byron. He was 6 and looked like a huge teddy bear (his original name was ACTUALLY “Bear” but we changed it on the premise that I would never get over my fear of dogs if he was named after something I was even more afraid of). Byron had belonged to a family who had no time for him—they both worked, had three kids, and lived in a small semi-detached home with the woman’s elderly mother—it was a tough situation for everyone, and to their credit, they decided to give him away to people who could take better care of him. He was a wonderful, laidback dog in every way, except that he HATED other dogs. It wasn’t his fault—the people who’d owned him previously had never taken him anywhere or walked him—he just stayed in their backyard 24/7 so he’d never learned how to socialize. But that was fine with us—he loved people, so we just made sure we kept him on a leash when he came out with us. We took him all over, but his favourite trip was to the drive through at McDonald’s. We’d order him a large water and a small fry, and we’d all eat in the car. But Byron didn’t have a big appetite aside from fast food—we’d fill his bowl food every morning from a red cup that we had and he’d pick away at it all day. Sometimes he finished it; sometimes not.
Eventually, Byron passed away at the ripe old age of 15, which broke our hearts, but we’d had 9 awesome years with him, and thanks to him, I’d completely gotten over my fear of dogs. A few weeks later, we got Saxon, a 3 year-old female Yellow Lab, from a family who was moving to England and couldn’t take her with them. The first day we had her, I got out Byron’s red food cup and filled her bowl. She ate it right away, then looked at me expectantly. So I gave her another cupful. At dinner time, we gave her another, then another right before bed. After about a week of this, we realized she was getting very chunky. So I called the vet to find out exactly how much we should be feeding her. “For her size, about a cup and a half per day,” he said. “How much food fits in that cup you’re using?” So I measured it—the red cup held TWO CUPS of food. We’d been feeding her about 6 cups of kibble every day. And she was happily eating it, the same way she happily ate an entire 3 pound bag of dog food one afternoon when we were out grocery shopping and forgot to shut the cupboard door. When we got back, she was waddling around and looked pregnant, but it didn’t last for long—she couldn’t digest it all and her “food baby” made its reappearance a few hours later. And I don’t think my mother-in-law ever forgave her for eating all the tops off a dozen banana muffins that she’d made from scratch and left on the counter to cool. She was sitting only about 10 feet away and never heard a thing—Saxon was like a ninja when it came to stealth eating. Aside from the food fixation, she was an all-around amazing dog, who agreed to go out in the morning and get the newspaper for us in exchange for cookies and who loved to play hide and seek. But like all other beloved pets, she too eventually passed away at the age of 14 a couple of years ago, which brings us back to Titus, our monster dog. Just over 100 pounds, and standing 28 inches high at the shoulder, he’s goofy and sweet and completely obsessed with food. And alcohol. In fact, at this very moment, he’s staring at the spot where I just spilled some wine through the baby gate that I have up to prevent Raven from coming into my office and peeing on the rug ( and that’s a whole other story).
Titus: Um…you know there’s wine on the floor, right?
Me: Yes. You made me spill it when I was trying to climb over you AND the baby gate.
Titus: Are you going to wipe it up? Or would you like me to come in and lick the floor clean for you? I don’t mind.
Me: You’re not allowed to lick the floor. We discussed this. You’re also not allowed to have any wine. It’s bad for you.
Titus: Says the woman on her second glass of Pinot Grigio. C’mon—just a little taste.
Me: I don’t start drooling like a maniac if someone gives me “just a little taste”.
Titus: I can’t help it if I have a sensitive palate.
Me: If you really had a “sensitive palate”, you wouldn’t spend so much time trying to eat out of Raven’s litter box.
Titus: But the little kitty treats are so crunchy and good…
Bottom line is that I’ve changed my attitude and after my enlightening conversation with Titus will no longer be using the 5 second rule to determine whether or not I can still eat a carrot that I dropped on the kitchen floor. Unless I’m going to boil it first.
Saturday: Star Trek is becoming predictable.
T and I have been working our way through the Star Trek pantheon on Netflix, and we’ve made it to Star Trek: Voyager, starring the gravelly-voiced Kate Mulgrew. In this version of Star Trek, the ship and its crew has been tossed into the “Delta Quadrant” by an alien known as “Caretaker”. They’re over 77 000 light years away from the Alpha Quadrant, where Earth is, and it’s going to take them approximagely 70 years to make it back. But instead of just going to Warp 9, and hightailing it, they spend their time cruising through the Delta Quadrant at impulse speed, just looking for trouble, and delaying their return home every week. We both really enjoy watching the show, but after a while we’ve come to realize that the writers have pretty much given up, and that each episode has become a little predictable.
Scenario 1: What could it be?
Mr. Kim: Captain, I’m detecting something ten thousand kilometres off the starboard bow.
T: It’s a nebula.
Me: It’s a subspace anomaly.
T: It’s a rift in the time/space continuum.
Captain: It looks like some sort of anomaly.
T: Don’t go any closer.
Captain: Mr. Paris, take us closer.
Me: You’re going to get pulled in.
Mr. Paris: Captain, we’re getting pulled in!
All of us: Reverse thrusters!! It’s not working!!
Scenario 2: Encounters with Aliens
Mr. Tuvok: Captain, I’m detecting an alien vessel ahead.
Me: Check for life signs.
Captain: Any life signs, Mr. Tuvok?
T: Back away before hailing them. They’re probably hostile.
Mr. Tuvok: Yes, Captain—one alien life sign.
Captain: Hail them, Mr. Kim.
Me: They won’t answer. Put your damn shields up.
Mr. Kim: There’s no response, Captain.
Mr. Paris: They’re firing on us!
T: I wonder which one of the completely ineffective “evasive manoeuvres” she’ll ask for? Oh—Janeway Beta 3. Good choice but it won’t work.
Me: Can’t they just transport the alien directly to the main bridge?
T: Not if his shields are up—are OUR shields up?
Mr. Paris: Captain, evasive manoeuvres aren’t working!
Mr. Tuvok: Shields are down to 67%.
T: There you go.
Me: Just fire the damn photon torpedoes.
Captain: Fire the photon torpedoes!
Mr. Paris: Direct hit. His shields are down.
Captain: Transport him directly to the main bridge.
Me: He’s gonna have crazy hair and be really pissed off.
Alien: How dare you—!
T: Is that papier mache or salami on his head?
Scenario 3: Coming back from an Away Mission
Captain: Well, Mr. Chakotay, that was certainly an interesting Away Mission but I can’t wait to get back to Voyager.
T: Voyager is gone.
Mr. Chakotay: Captain, Voyager is not at the rendezvous location.
Me: Scan for a warp signature. They’re around somewhere.
Captain: Scan for a warp signature, Mr. Chakotay. They must be close by.
Mr. Chakotay: Detecting a faint warp trail, 1 million kilometres from here.
T: The ship’s been hijacked by either the Viidians or the Kazon.
Mr. Chakotay: Captain, I’m detecting alien life signs on board.
Captain: Is it the Viidians or the Kazon?
Mr. Chakotay: Neither.
Us: Oooh, this could be good.
T: Secretly transport on board and use the Jeffries tubes to sneak around and take back the ship.
Captain: Get us within transport range, Mr. Chakotay. I have a plan…
Scenario 4: Is it the end?
T: Should we believe that guy when he says he’ll help Voyager get home in exchange for trilithium crystals?
Me: No. It’s like Gilligan’s Island. Or Lost. No one goes home until the last episode of the last season, and we have 3 more seasons to go.
Captain: I can’t believe we were taken in by that dishonest Ferengi. Wait–is that a mysterious nebula I see up ahead?
Us: 3 more seasons! Yay!!