The weird egg laying mammal with a duck’s bill on its face may hold the key to the problem of our antibiotics not working well against resistant bacteria and germs. Via Sky News:

A breakthrough by Australian scientists has found that the platypus – which is already a unique creature – is also in possession of fairly unique biochemistry.

Researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Deakin University have discovered a special protein contained in platypus milk.

CSIRO scientist and lead author Dr Janet Newman said: “Platypus are such weird animals that it would make sense for them to have weird biochemistry.

“The platypus belongs to the monotreme family, a small group of mammals that lay eggs and produce milk to feed their young.

“By taking a closer look at their milk, we’ve characterised a new protein that has unique antibacterial properties with the potential to save lives.”

The study, published in Structural Biology Communications, finds that the way platypus mothers feed their young – which unusually for mammals hatch from eggs – has led to the antibacterial properties developing.

Platypus do not have teats, but instead express milk on to their belly where the young suckle it – meaning the milk becomes exposed to an environment where it could be contaminated by local bacteria.

Evolutionary processes have meant that the milk contains a special protein which protects the platypus babies against this bacteria.

Dr Julie Sharp of Deakin University said: “We were interested to examine the protein’s structure and characteristics to find out exactly what part of the protein was doing what.”

They found that the protein contained a unique 3D fold which had never been seen before in the structure of the molecule.

As Instapundit likes to say, “Faster, Please.”

Pic: Laura Romin and Larry Dalton. Via Sky News

Platypus, funny face, savior of the human race? (Apologies to The Doors)

Which will come first, the Zombie Apocalypse, or the Cure from mammals who lay eggs?

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

Here in New York’s Scenic Hudson Valley, we are still digging out from two big Nor’easter storms that we’ve gotten in the past week. There are huge piles of snow and big broken tree branches all around my property, but my family was thankfully spared from the power outages that hit this area hard and our little house is still standing. Unfortunately, I’m on my second week with a nasty upper respiratory infection that my kids have caught as well so no sledding or snowman building for us. My dogs, however, had a grand old time jumping around their frozen play yard, so there’s that.

I recently learned that hot toddies can be made with pineapple juice and rum. Not for the kids, of course, although it would have been acceptable for previous generations, and while it did not really much help my symptoms but it did help me care a little bit less about them for a little while. You can make the toddies with any kind of juice, apparently, and whatever spirit you prefer as well – the key ingredients besides the booze and juice are honey and cinnamon. Heat the juice, add the other stuff, stir, and enjoy!

My mom used to make hot toddies with orange juice and whiskey before I developed a food allergy to oranges, but they are traditionally made with tea. Here is a link to a recipe for that: Dr. Pat’s Hot Toddy Cold Remedy

I’m going to have to cut this post short as there are coughing children who need my attention (so no toddies for me). I hope you are all safe and warm and well. I’ve got over the counter cold medicines, Vick’s Vapor Rub, and chicken soup to try to get us through our winter sicknesses but I am open to suggestions. If you’ve got a favorite home remedy or winter comfort food, please share in the comments section.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

A lady was sitting in a traffic jam with her dog, Sherman, in the car with her. Sherman, a beautiful 230 pound English Mastiff, is not just a beloved family pet, he is also a therapy dog who visits people in senior communities, home-bound people, and people with other special needs to help to lift their spirits and brighten their days. Sherman’s people mom, Sherry McAllister, uses her vehicle to take Sherman to his jobs and has her cell phone number posted to the outsides of her car advertising their services. So there are Sherry and Sherman sitting in their ride, not going anywhere or doing anything when her phone rings, and as they say in the clickbait ads, what happened next is amazing…

SunnySkyz:

“We were stuck in a huge traffic jam for about 15 minutes, without moving, when my phone rang. Since we obviously weren’t going anywhere, I answered. On the other end of the phone was a soft-spoken man who introduced himself as, Andy.”

“He explained he was a few cars back from us, and saw Sherman stick his big ol’ head out the window, so he called the number on our decal (we have a huge decal on three sides of the suburban with a picture of Sherman’s head, his name, and our contact number). He told us he had just returned home after a 3+ month stay in a nursing home facility. He was recovering from the most recent of multiple back surgeries.”

“It’s because of this stay in the nursing home and his failing health that he had to rehome his large breed dog. He is, sadly, unable to care for him any longer. This decision clearly broke his heart, as we could hear him choking up as he spoke. He asked if we could meet up sometime, so he could just pet Sherman. Of course, we told him we would love to set a time to meet up with him. He thanked us and we said our goodbyes, with a promise to set something up in the next few days.

As we sat there in traffic, I couldn’t get Andy’s sad voice out of my head. We decided to call him back and ask if he would like to turn off into the Wal-Mart parking lot to say, ‘Hello’ to Sherman real quick. We could hear his voice cracking over the phone when he said, ‘Yes!’.”

So, they met in the nearby parking lot, where Sherry invited Andy to meet Sherman and spend some time with him, which he did, and Sherman immediately went about giving Andy exactly what he needed:

Sherman the Therapy Dog photo from SunnySkyz

MORE at SunnySkyz HERE

Sherman has a Facebook page, HERE.

People can be so miserable sitting in traffic, it is the sort of thing that can bring out some of our worst personality quirks, it’s nice to see something GOOD come out of one! As Jerry Wilson wrote right here at Da Tech Guy Blog just yesterday, sometimes God puts us exactly where we are needed at exactly the right time. I believe this truly in my heart and I think the above story is a fine example of such divine placement (as is Jerry’s story, which you should check out if you haven’t already).

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

Life is better with dogs. I should know, since I have a whole family of six of them living with me and my husband, kids, and cats! Here are a few tales of heroic dogs to brighten your weekend…

It was 4:30 am when a sleeping couple was awakened by their two dogs recently. The dogs were tugging on them and nudging them and insisting on being taken out, which was not something these dogs typically did in the wee hours. These dogs had something important to show their humans, and thank God that their humans eventually complied! Via SunnySkyz:

Meet Adam and Eva, two labradoodles who are being credited with saving the life of a lost elderly woman.

dogs save woman from freezing to death
Credit: J. Scott Park

The dogs woke their owners up at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. They continuously tugged on their owner’s sleeve, insisting to be let outside.

“(Adam) never tugged on my clothes before, so I was a cautious about letting them out because I didn’t know if there was anything out there,” Lonnie Chester said.

Before Lonnie could open the door all the way, Adam and Eva squeezed past and bolted to his truck outside. Next to it was an elderly woman in her late 80s on the ground, freezing with nothing on but a night gown.

dogs save woman from freezing to death
Credit: J. Scott Park

“She looked up at me and said, ‘I’m so cold,'” Lonnie said. “I have no idea how long she had been out there. She must have been terrified.”

The temperature around the time was about 9 degrees in Norvell Township, Michigan.

Shortly after rescue crews arrived, the woman’s family came to the house and asked if they had found their lost loved one. The family was looking for her but did not see her as she was lying in the snow in the near total darkness.

The rest of the story and see related video HERE

Talk about courage under fire! Meet Chips the Husky/Shepard Mix who has been posthumously awarded for his extraordinary bravery in World War II:

NY Post

He was a very good boy.

A hero US Army dog who ran nose-first into a machine gun fire in World War II and took out a shooter by the throat was recognized with Britain’s highest honor for animal bravery Monday.

Westchester County pooch Chips, a German shepherd-husky cross, was awarded the Dickin Medal for his courageous actions during the appropriately titled Operation Husky.

“It has taken over seven decades, but Chips can now finally take his place in the history books as one of the most heroic dogs to serve with the US Army,” said Jan McLoughlin, director general of the the UK’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, which created the award in 1943.

Chips was just a regular family pet living with the Wren family in Pleasantville when the Army asked civilians to donate their dogs to the war effort. Some 40,000 patriotic pooches were signed up, but only 10,000 made the cut — including Chips.

Upon landing at the beach in Sicily in 1943, Chips’ platoon immediately came under fire — and the courageous canine broke free of his leash and ran into an enemy machine-gun nest.

“There was an awful lot of noise and the firing stopped. Then I saw one soldier come out of the door with Chips at his throat. I called him off before he could kill the man,” his handler, Pvt. John Rowell, later recalled — adding that three other Italian soldiers then emerged with their hands over their heads.

He suffered some injuries in the melee, but sniffed out another 10 enemy combatants later that day — leading to their surrender, according to the Washington Post.

Chips survived his three and a half years in the war, and was able to return home to Pleasantville to live out his days as a war hero.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart for his efforts, but they were later rescinded because they’re not actually meant for dogs. MORE HERE

I had a hero dog, her name was Maggie and she was a Golden Retriever who had been abused before animal rescuers saved her and put her up for adoption and she was brought home by my dad. Maggie was here with me seventeen years ago today when my father died. They are both on my mind today. Maggie always had a sadness about her after we lost my dad, but she was the sweetest friend you could ever hope for. A few years after my dad died, while I was very pregnant with my first child, I had somehow ended up asleep on my back and I developed a bad nosebleed (I had a lot of nosebleeds during that pregnancy, but if I was awake it wasn’t a big deal). I only became aware of it because Maggie kept nudging me and licking me until I woke up, choking on blood. I believe Maggie knew something was wrong and I think she spared my baby and I from what could have become a dangerous situation! After my daughter was born, Maggie always stood guard over her bassinet in my room, and did the same when my son was born a few years later. She was a gentle companion for my young children and one of the best friends I ever had. She died some years ago of old age, but she lives forever in the hearts of everyone who knew her.

I have had a lot of special dogs over the years, including my dog Oreo, who once got between me and a neighbor’s vicious dog who had gotten out and came after me. That other dog was twice Oreo’s size but my dog got all up in that other dog’s face barking his “big dog” bark until the other dog finally forgot about wanting to get me, backed off, and went back home. Oreo also once stared down a humongous coywolf who was in a neighbor’s yard while I was out walking him. Again, Oreo put himself in front of me and between myself and something that maybe could have hurt me. Oreo is not exactly a smart dog; he often gets into all kinds of ridiculous mischief, but my memories of his bravery will almost always get him out of trouble for whatever he has just chewed up or peed on.

Thank God for dogs! If you have a special dog story you want to share, I would love to read it below in the comments section!

Oreo, my brave dog

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

CDC flu map as of Jan. 13, 2018

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  Odds are good that either you or someone you know has the flu right now.  According to the latest CDC report, about 9,000 “laboratory-confirmed influenza associated hospitalizations” have been reported during this season’s flu outbreak and at least thirty children have died as a result of the virus this season.

The flu is highly active in nearly every state right now, according to the CDC.

Not only that, but those with flu are at high risk for pneumonia which can be even more deadly.  My brother is in the hospital with pneumonia right now and has been in the ER for over 24-hours because there are not enough beds in the hospital itself to put him into a room.

Over the counter drugs like Theraflu are flying off the shelves.

Is it coincidence that exactly one-hundred years ago the nation, and the world, suffered the infamous 1918 flu pandemic?:

The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic killed more people than combat did in the First World War. Maybe a lot more: fatality estimates range from 20-40 million to twice that around the globe. In the United States, a quarter of the population came down with the flu; some 675,000 died. Only the American Civil War has been more lethal.

This CBS News report on the 1918 pandemic describes just how devastating it was. We hope that this flu season is not a repeat of that but we are not yet near the end of this season yet.

The experts are giving all the usual advice to protect yourself: wash your hands, get a flu shot, stay away from loved ones who are ill, get lots of rest.  Parents are advised not to send their children to school if they are sick and business are encouraging employees to stay home if they are sick. Many doctors offices are telling patients not to come in if they have the flu: to simply call and get a prescription for Tamiflu.  Emergency rooms and urgent care clinics are overflowing with flu patients as well.

Because I teach school, I am absolutely paranoid about catching the flu; I’m around kids all day long.  I’ve loaded up on hand sanitizer (even though there are claims that it does not work) and sanitizing wipes which I use on my desks and door knobs daily.  I’m keeping a healthy distance between me and anyone who is coughing.

I have a friend who has worked in public health for over 60 years as a physician.  He firmly believes the key to preventing germs spreading is Dr. Tichenor’s antiseptic mouthwash.  He carries a small spray bottle with him during cold and flu season filled with undiluted Dr. Tichenor’s.  He puts a dab in each nostril throughout the day and sprays his throat. Between that and the flu shot, he has managed to avoid the flu every year.

I have another friend who says that her secret to staying well is to eat local honey.

I’m taking every possible precaution, but it turns out that as widespread and virulent as this year’s virus seems to be, we all may be afflicted at some point.

I hope that you all stay healthy and avoid getting sick this year.  If you have a great home remedy or advice, please share!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

A woman found a Monarch butterfly who was born with a torn wing and would be unable to fly and live out his little butterfly life, so she decided to try to save him with surgery! Via Sunny Skyz:

Romy McCloskey has a good reason to cherish butterflies more than most people. Before her mother passed away, she said, “Romy, don’t worry. Whenever you see butterflies, just know it’s me checking in on you to let you know I’m OK, and that I love you.”

So when Romy found a Monarch butterfly with an injured wing, she took it upon herself to save its life by turning her home office into an insect operating room.

Romy took to Facebook to share the story.

The patient: this 3-day-old little boy was born with torn upper and lower wings. Let’s see how we can help!

woman performs surgery on butterfly
Romy McCloskey

The operating room. Towel, scissors, tweezers, talc, contact cement, toothpick and my sweet girl who died earlier last week (for wings.)

woman performs surgery on butterfly
Romy McCloskey

Securing the little guy down with the bent hanger, as I cut away the damaged pieces. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. It’s like trimming hair or nails.

woman performs surgery on butterfly
Romy McCloskey

The damaged pieces of wings.

woman performs surgery on butterfly
Romy McCloskey

Ta-da! He’s finished! You can see that the black lines in is upper right wing don’t match up 100%.

woman performs surgery on butterfly

Click HERE to see how the story ends! 

If my daughter sees this post, I would not be surprised if she wanted to set up a bug surgery clinic somewhere in our house. That girl is always rescuing all kinds of insects, and also spiders.

You can learn more about the King of the Butterflies, the Monarch Butterfly, HERE, and you can read about why these creatures are vitally important and how you can help them at the US Fish and Wildlife Service website, HERE.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

By John Ruberry

“And it was inevitable that some of these people pushed back…”
Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles.

Could it be that the deep-blue residents of America’s second-most populous county, Cook County–Chicago is the county seat–have had enough?

Probably not, at least yet. But serious dissent may be bubbling as the effects of Cook County’s unpopular soda tax sink to the bottom of the glass.

Cook County Board President Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle, a former Chicago alderman who represented the University of Chicago area–the Obamas were among her constituents–touted that tax as a public health measure. The new tax covers not just soda but also many other sweetened beverages including those with corn syrup, such as diet sodas, some iced teas, and bottled sweetened Starbucks coffee–but not, for instance, cavity-causing Frappuccinos prepared at a Starbucks location by a barista. Even “free refills” are taxed now. But Preckwinkle, a hardened leftist, exposed her true colors by suing a retail association that delayed collection in a legal challenge of the tax for a month for $17 million of what she claims is lost revenue. That is how thug states such as Venezuela and Russia are run. Dissent will not be tolerated–enemies will be punished.

Preckwinkle defeated a Democratic incumbent in a 2010 primary election vowing to repeal an unpopular one-percent county sales tax. She phased it out, yes. But last year Preckwinkle brought it back.

And the soda tax was never about health. If it was, then why the lawsuit? Taxwinkle is a liar. Besides, federal law prevents taxing food stamp recipients–there are nearly 900,000 of them in Cook County–on their sweetened beverage purchases. Poor people consume larger amounts of sweetened beverages than wealthier folks and the health problems blamed on these drinks, such as diabetes and obesity, are more prevalent among the less wealthy.

The soda tax is a penny per ounce. That doesn’t seem like much, but the cost of a case of Diet Coke, as you seen in this Tweet, soars by 5o-percent after the Taxwinkle tax is figured in.

My friends and co-workers–and yes, there are some liberal Democrats within that group–are furious about the soda tax, even the ones who don’t drink what most people here call “pop.” Yesterday one man told me, “I live just south of Lake County, I’m going to buy all my Coke there,” adding, “There is a big sign outside the Target there, ‘No county sugary drink tax here.'” And of course he won’t only buy soda there–he’ll probably buy most, maybe all of his groceries there. Why wait in two long check-out lines? Grocers on the wrong side of the county line not only will face lower sales, some may be forced to close down and of course lay off their employees. Oh, I forgot to tell that new Lake County shopper that he should top off his gas tank up there, as there is also a Cook County gasoline tax.

And there are so many other taxes Cook County residents, particularly Chicagoans, have to endure. In an example provided by the free market Illinois Policy Institute, the base price of a two liter bottle of pop is $2.49. But when the 67 county soda tax is added, on top of the nation’s highest 10.25 percent sales tax, and an additional 3 percent Chicago soda tax, the true cost of that soda jug is $3.49. And if you accept a bag, paper or plastic, when you buy that sugary drink in Chicago, there is an additional 7 cent per bag tax. Unless you are paying by food stamps, formally known as SNAP–the “N” stands for nutrition–with your Illinois Link card.

When was the last time you devoured a grocery bag?

Keeping track of all of these taxes are a nightmare for retailers. That extra cost of course is passed on to consumers.

Last month Illinois’ income tax rate was hiked by 32 percent. Illinoisans are burdened with among the highest property rates in the nation. Yet, Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago are functionally bankrupt, which exposes another left-wing lie–fiscal stability in Democratic-run sinkholes is always only just one more tax hike away.

Why does Crook County need the soda tax, and yes, the next tax, what ever that one is going to be? To pay for lavish but woefully-underfunded county worker pensions and the Cook County Health System.

Chicago is a sanctuary city and Cook is a sanctuary county–Cook County health facilities are often the health care provider of choice of the area’s large population of illegal immigrants. No, I’m not saying we should cut off care to illegals with health concerns, but as a Cook County taxpayer, it’s fair to know what that care costs me.

Liberalism is very expensive.

Blogger in downtown Chicago

Next year Taxwinkle will face voters. She’ll probably be reelected. Rebellions take time to build, after all, it took ten years from the passage of the Stamp Act until the first battle of the American Revolution to be fought.

How did Preckwinkle fare in her last election? She ran unopposed.

Shame on you, Cook County Republican Party.

Meanwhile Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago continue to lose residents.

Quietly, the rebellion has begun.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.


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