A recent article in the New York Times briefly discusses the utility of cats, and asserts that their lack of usefulness is attributed to the theory that in contrast to other domesticated animals, the cats have domesticated humans, and generally do not let the humans determine their breeding.
Compared to sheepdogs, cats are generally less useful. But most people don’t acquire cats for their utility. We acquire them for their independent nature, for their companionship, for their snuggliness (even for their ease of litter-training).
Of course, there are some cats that are more useful than others — Thunder is my “Alarm-Cat”, an almost-service animal who will diligently nose-bump me as many times as is necessary to get me up on time for work. She’ll even give me a wake-up call when I take a nap. The hard part of course, is convincing her about Daylight Savings Time.
Aside from that, Thunder’s “utility” is limited to lap-warming. Like our other cats, she sheds, sometimes shreds, complains about household arrangements, and consumes kibble.
I own an alarm clock. It’s great for telling time. But I prefer my alarm-cat, whose persistence is much more pleasurable that a mechanical blaaaat.
Do you have a cat for a service animal?
The other day I was out in the garden taking pictures when a shiny green fly caught my attention. Green bottle flies (Diptera, family Calliphoridae, genus Lucilia) are a bit larger than the ordinary house fly. The adults feed on nectar and are pollinators, but because of their life histories, they fill some really interesting roles in the realms of human sciences.
One piece of news I found particularly interesting is related to newer use of Lucilia illustris in Maggot Debridement Therapy. This $50 term refers to putting young maggots on a wound because will consume only dead tissue — fear not, they are reared under clean laboratory conditions.
[Pausing for readers to get past the “Eeuw, gross!” moment before moving onto the really interesting stuff.]
The news is that these larvae are exceptionally good at helping patients recover from bad MRSA infections. A University Manchester study found that thirteen diabetic patients with nasty foot sores were able to heal up in an average of just 3 weeks, instead of the usual 28 weeks! Not only do they clean up the dead cells that would just fester and decay, but they also get rid of the bacteria directly, and help stimulate the healing process. As the article points out, this means that patients don’t have to deal with some of the side effects of strong antibiotics. My daughter has dealt with several staph infections, including an episode of MRSA, so this ranks a big w00t!
Yes, these are the same sort of fly larvae, AKA blow flies, that help clean up dead animals in the environment. Not only do the larvae need the nutrients from dead animal tissue to grow and mature, but the females need the extra maternal protein for egg production. (Unfortunately, they are also pests in the world of sheep ranching.)
Which leads us to another famous use of flies, forensic entomology. Calliphorid flies are attracted to blood or other fluids, and are the first to colonize a corpse. The rates of maturation for various species of flies have been extensively studied. By examining the age of the larvae, comparing this with the conditions where the body was found, and the known temperature data to calculate the Accumulated Degree Days, the Post Mortem Interval or PMI can be determined. The PMI is how long it has been since the person died.
Blow flies may be “icky”, but the smallest of details can make great differences in the affairs of humans.
4 July 2009 at 0:22 (Accessibility, ADD/ADHD, Architecture/Universal Design, Arthritis, Circus of the Spineless, Disability Blog Carnival, Family, Geeks, Home stuff, Humor/ Fun Stuff, Insects & Arachnids, Migraine, Ooh, shiny!, Pain, Sleep, w00t!)
My son and I recently hauled a long dresser+mirror up two flights of stairs, and I cleaned up the master bedroom in preparation for the return of the new baby & parents from the hospital. The downside of course is that after a day of labor, I must spend a couple-three days recuperating. (In other words, I used up all my “spoons”, down to the last demitasse.)
I’m also on Day 2 of one of those low-grade-three-day migraines. Right now it’s manifesting as misreads, which when I catch myself is kind of entertaining:
- a post on wheelchair “fails” [falls] at Wheelchair Dancer
- “Disability Studs” instead of Disability Studies
- “Autism Hug” instead of Autism Hub
- “Crack Wicks” instead of Cake Wrecks
In light of all that, I thought I’d share some interesting reads/cool finds on the Web recently:
My sleep-deprived daughter would be envious of ant queens, who spend nine hours a day sleeping, while the workers must squeeze in micro-naps.
From the world of delightful architecture, an adult tree[less] house shaped like a bee skep, made of recycled lumber (wheelie adaptation not included).
The CitizenM hotels have the most amazing showers, which look like Star Trek transporter pads. To start the shower, you simply shut the door. I don’t know if they’re large enough for a wheelchair transfer to a shower seat, but with the zero-clearance there’s a chance of it (maybe Dave knows). Want! (Or at least the trés geek LED shower head that changes from blue to red when your water’s hot.)
Reimer Reason posted It’s a Family Reunion! for the most recent Disability Blog Carnival.
In further hexapod news: while I was distracted by our little geekling, Bug Girl has been faithfully covering Pollinator Week, including important information about CHOCOLATE. For more funs, Cheshire has teh latest Circus of the Spineless up.
And of course, what would a list of fun be without a LOLcat?
When my rheumatologist said to get more exercise,
I’m not sure she really meant
that I should be hauling meself up & down stairs
over and over because of my ADHD forgetfulness.
to my daughter and her honey, on the arrival of their little geekling. The boy is healthy and beautiful. We’re all so proud and excited!