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. 

News of the financial problems at Toys ‘R’ Us had been in my local news long before it became big national news, because we have a store in my area that people were concerned about closing, back when the chain was simply going to shut some stores in an effort to stay in business, before deciding to go out of business altogether as it this week it was declared that it will.

Much like a certain failed U.S. Presidential candidate, Toys ‘R’ Us is blaming its catastrophic failure in every direction except where the blame squarely lies – on itself. It wasn’t killed by Amazon, it wasn’t killed by Target or Walmart, and it wasn’t killed by babies or a lack thereof. Toys ‘R’ Us killed itself, not only by failing to adapt to a changing marketplace but also, and more importantly, by failing to provide adequate customer service which would have garnered it some customer loyalty.

Shopping at a brick and mortar Toys ‘R’ Us store is a miserable and stressful experience. At my local store the place was always in disarray and there was never anyone to help. The checkout lines were always long and the employees were often very clearly unhappy to be there. Nobody wants to shop someplace aggravating if they can avoid it, and lots of people are willing to pay a little bit more someplace else to avoid a hassle. Not to mention that the prices at the Toys ‘R’ Us were really not competitive at all so, for all the frustration that shopping there entails, you weren’t even getting a good deal.

Shopping online at Toys ‘R’ Us, in my experience, was also an exercise in frustration – the search function on their site stinks, there is a long wait to get your item shipped for a fee, and you can’t opt to have your purchase shipped to the store for pickup – something almost every kind of chain store does these days. There is no “app for that” with Toys ‘R’ Us, for people who like that sort of thing, which seems weird to me since there is an app for pretty much everything you can think of so it doesn’t seem like it would have been impossible for them to do even with their money problems.

The reason why Toys ‘R’ Us failed is because they failed the people who could have saved them; they failed their customers, often failing them so egregiously that they turned off many people from ever shopping at Toys ‘R’ Us ever again. Repeat customers can be the lifeblood of a business, but Toys ‘R’ Us had little interest in customer retention over the years or they would have changed their horrid corporate culture long before it became a policy of retail suicide.

For a sampling of the real reasons why Toys ‘R’ Us is a failed business, have a look at some consumer complaints:

Beware of Toys R Us online, I ordered & paid for $105 worth of Cra-Z-Art SoundMoovs arm bands/electronics at Christmas, instead I received a $5 Thomas the train, huh?? After calling they corrected the order and sent me the armbands. Then the emails began, reminding me that I needed to return the armbands? Why would I return something I purchased?? After calling AGAIN, they said I needed to return the Toy Train, via US Post office!!? Pain in the rear, but okay, it’s done right? SURPRISE, they have now charged me AGAIN another $105.00 for the same items I already paid for. They said, so sorry but it will be 10 days before my $105 is refunded. By the way, some of us don’t have an extra $105 dollars laying around to support others mistakes. A customer for 10 years, I’ve spent thousands over that time in their store. Their apology gift to me? $10 off coupon for my next order… Sad, but there won’t be a next order. AMAZON it is…

Don’t ever buy online at Toys R Us! Ever!!! It’s been a month since I purchased 2 games for my son for Christmas and one of them was never shipped! I ordered the games on Thanksgiving. I called to track it and automated system told me it was shipped. I check the tracking number and item was never shipped. It just had a tracking number. I called again to asked for my refund and was promised it would take 48 hours to process for the credit. I called Dec 7, then again Dec 10, Then Dec 12th, then Dec 17, and then Dec 20 and Dec 27 and again today. It’s the 28th of December and I’m still dealing with their lying asses over one month later. Each customer service rep said that they would fix my issue and it doesn’t get fixed. I never received an email that the order was canceled or an email about my credit either. How many more times I would have to call to get my money back for a game that was never shipped?

What a terrible experience!! We were told by really immature store manager that they didn’t match prices when it says it in 8 foot tall letters on front window!!! REALLY immature, acting snarky, rolling eyes and shaking heads, we have grandkids that like this store. Just a shame the company cannot hire friendlier people than this especially since this is a “FAMILY STORE.”

There is MORE, and it indicates a pattern of an utter lack of concern for the customer; and you cannot survive as a retail business if your standard policies serve mainly to step on and piss off your customers. Toys ‘R’ Us died entirely of self inflicted wounds. Let the demise of Toys ‘R’ Us serve as a cautionary tale about how not to have a strong and loyal customer base.

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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.