5 for Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Firefly Cuisine, Spacewalk Limitations and Touchscreen Technology


This is a post that might not see the light of day.

Imagine this scene: Me, standing in a cabin no more than three large pizzas long, two large pizzas wide, in a white-sand outpost down east in North Carolina. My hint of web access hinges on the tortoise-quick and ‘possum-smart network called “tengointernet13.”

“Tengo” means “I have in Spanish. Un mentira (a lie), if I’ve ever heard one.

This Internet connection is doing a great job of keeping me outternet.

I’m here in Jacksonville, N.C., home of the military base and large alligators with a taste for domesticated dogs, in town for a coaching certification course.

It’s a rustic existence. I’m pretty much Ralph Waldo Emerson, or maybe Diane Fossey, or at least Jed Clampett (before he struck Texas Tea). So as the hum of Marine helicopters rumbles in the distance beyond the aromas of the grills of seasoned grillers in campsites around me, I want you to picture this:

Me, with a lightbulb that hangs lazily from a crooked wire. I scribble furiously on a field notebook the contents of this blog, my thoughts – my last thoughts? – scrawled on yellowing parchment.

Imagine me wearing a weather-beaten bucket hat, my hair grown wayward and my beard like a salt-and-pepper thicket on my face. Mosquito netting surrounds my humble bunk, and I must sharpen my only pencil with a pocket knife. If I don’t survive, this blog post, at least, will endure.

(Try to forget that I’ll probably hit “publish” while I nosh on sweet donuts and Diet Mountain Dew in the Great Wall Chinese food while riding their free wi-fi.)

1. What do fireflies eat?

Anything, with Frank’s Red hot. They put that sh*t on everything.

Fireflies are actually beetles, which is why we like to catch them in jars and not fly paper. Lightning bugs, as we sometimes call them, eat more when they’re glow-in-the-dark larvae known as glowworms – other bugs, slugs, and snails. Sometimes, grown-up fireflies don’t eat at all.

Which makes them kind of like supermodels or rock stars, and not just because someone’s always looking at their tail.

2. Do they have batting helmets with the flap on the other side, too?

They go on the right for Republicans, the left for Democrats. Libertarians have them on both sides.

Right-handers have the flap on the left side of the helmet, and left-handed batters, on the right. Switch hitters use helmets with flaps on both sides. They weren’t made mandatory until the 1960s. The Phillies’ Tony Gonzalez, oft taking one off the noggin, had a special helmet made just to protect his melon.

The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez prefers a helmet without one ear flap so that he can hear the mating call of the single New York female among the thousands in the Yankees stadium crowd.

3. Can you go anywhere in space on a spacewalk?

Yes, and during the Obama administration, you don’t even have to show ID.

Astronauts on a spacewalk can move anywhere in space, although the modern term is “extra-veh
icular activity,” which I’m pretty sure is illegal in 17 states. Astronauts have gone untethered since 1984, and usually go out to repair space stations. Untethered astronauts carry life support in a backpack.

They should go no further than their mothers can see them. Just like you, Grace.

4. Is ich just bubbles?

It’s not just acne for goldfish.

The full word for the disease that produces white spots on fish is ichthyophthiriasis, but it’s also called the ‘white spot’ by civilians. It’s an infectious parasite that makes aquarium fish look salted. We’ve had decent success squirting our ichy fish with stress coat, and it goes away.

Wearing a batting helmet apparently doesn’t protect a fish for ich, either.

5. Have they invented the touch computer yet?

Just think, Grace – your grandkids might stumble upon a keyboard and say, “What’s this, gramma?”

Microsoft’s Windows XP tablet was the first of its kind for touch technology. The actual technology emerged in 1971, when Doctor Sam Hurst developed the touch sensor. That was in 1971, when someone you know just might have been born. It took a while for him to become mainstream, too.

Your question explains why there’s so many tiny fingerprints on my laptop screen, Grace. And I’m hungrier than a firefly after answering all these!

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25 Replies to “5 for Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Firefly Cuisine, Spacewalk Limitations and Touchscreen Technology”

  1. Great post again, I can imagine you sitting and writing in both places. You should have had an alligator thumping its tail against the cabin door, giving a greater sense of urgency to your pencil sharpening.
    Laurie.

    1. Yes, it can be cured, although I don’t recommend the method I discovered online that involved scooping the fish into a net and letting him scrape the spots off himself. Turns out the mass killings in our tank had little to do with ich, and more to do with toxic water. Turns out something went awry between the tap and the tank as far as ammonia, which turned our aquarium into “agua de muerto” – Water of Death, as it’s known in fish circles now.

  2. so funny, because I just bought a new journal and have sharpened a pencil so that I can write posts on the go. which is what I thought was the purpose of my laptop. but it’s heavy and cumbersome (no light weight Mac Book here) and of course…..requires electricity. since hubby opted to get me the super 17 inch HD screen…my battery life is only about 2 hours. And if you have ever taken 3 children to a splash pad park on a hot summer day…..well, there just ain’t enough juice to keep that sucker going. It’s done long before the kids run out of battery power. I wonder how much energy a firefly bum emits??

    1. The Diaries of Rorybore will be auctioned at quite a hefty price one day on eBay, I predict. Why such a large screen? Those are better left for viewing food blogs and watching Summer Sanders highlights. Or so I’ve heard.

      I believe a firefly bum emits exactly 543 HGz of power, or roughly 1/1,000th of what it takes to light up your monster HD screen for 1.7 seconds.

    1. I’d have used Arod’s paycheck as reference, but my cabin couldn’t cover it. I might or might not have known how big the cabin was in terms of pizza boxes because I might or might not have had to reach over them to get my pencil.

  3. Love learning new info in such a fun way. That’s what makes good teachers, which you clearly are! By the way, my idea of roughing it is staying in a two-star hotel. Glad you survived. You did, didn’t you?

    1. Dads are supposed to know this stuff, but the girls and I have had fun looking stuff up together, too. I’m learning too, so they’re also my teachers.

      I *did* survive! It was rough the first night, but by the time we left, it felt like home.

  4. I didn’t know they had batting helmets with 2 flaps!! Cool!! And I never dealt with ich – only fish lice – which I picked off with tweezers. That was nasty!! And I have a touch-screen computer by Toshiba – I don’t use the touchscreen feature…too messy, especially if you’re eating cheetos.

    1. I have an allergy to things asymmetrical, so those one-flap helmets would bug the snot out of me.

      Duly noted on the touchscreen. Because really, if you have to not use a computer while eating Cheetos, what’s the point?

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