Happy Friday! Here are some oddball things I came across, submitted for your enjoyment…

It is “spring” here in New York’s Scenic Hudson Valley, but The Winter That Will Not Die rained ice chips on me while I walked the dogs yesterday and there are still mounds of unmelted snow along side driveways and parking lots in the neighborhood, but I don’t think I have much to complain about because at least we are not buried in tumbleweeds like they are in Victorville, California:

High winds have left a California desert town buried in tumbleweeds. Residents of Victorville, which is northeast of Los Angeles were shocked when hundreds of tumbleweeds blew into their town, burying everything in their wake, including 150 homes. There were so many weeds that they reached the second story of some of the houses.

Video captured and posted to YouTube showed massive piles of the weeds blowing through the town, completely covering some homes as clean-up crews worked to remove the tumbleweed.   MORE

H/T iOTWReport.com

When I saw a headline earlier this week about how some human beings have a genetic mutation that allows them to remain underwater for longer than most people, I expected I’d find out that they’d grown gills, but it turns out that they have special spleens. Via National Geographic:

If you hold your breath and plunge your face into a tub of water, your body automatically triggers what’s called the diving response. Your heart rate slows, your blood vessels constrict, and your spleen contracts, all reactions that help you save energy when you’re low on oxygen.

Most people can hold their breath underwater for a few seconds, some for a few minutes. But a group of people called the Bajau takes free diving to the extreme, staying underwater for as long as 13 minutes at depths of around 200 feet. These nomadic people live in waters winding through the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, where they dive to hunt for fish or search for natural elements that can be used in crafts.

Now, a study in the journal Cell offers the first clues that a DNA mutation for larger spleens gives the Bajau a genetic advantage for life in the deep.  READ MORE

H/T: Instapundit

Two cops were having a rough time trying to arrest a couple of miscreants who were violently resisting. One cop was knocked unconscious, when a female off duty medical assistant came to the rescue with a BODY SLAM to one of the thugs (also a female) who was attacking the cops. The bystander turned heroine then held the crook in place until the downed officer was back up and the cops could finish  the arrest. Via FoxNews:

Officer Brian Lowenhagen and Sgt. Eric Walters were attempting to arrest the suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Jacob R. Hellenbrand, outside of a convenience store on Sunday when a woman who was with him punched Loewenhagen “numerous times,” according to the police department.

As Sgt. Walters attempted to restrain the woman, identified as 21-year-old Olivia J. Boomsma, the “male was able to blade his body toward Sgt. Walters and forcefully kick Sgt. Walters on the right side of his face and head,” according to the police department.

Around that same time, an off-duty medical assistant who had stopped in the convenience store on her way home came to the rescue.

Divine Savior Hospital employee Vanessa Guerra ran toward the officers after she noticed Walters had fallen unconscious. As she was checking on him, the “female suspect was beginning to fight with Officer Loewenhagen again and was yelling about having a knife in her pocket,” police said.

That’s when Guerra “disregarded her own safety to help protect the officers,” the police department explained. She “body-slammed” Boomsma against a wall and “held her there until Sgt. Walters resumed consciousness and was able to handcuff the female,” the station added.

“I’m in the medical profession. When you get into that mode, you’re there for your patients, you’re there for the person that you see in need. And that’s what you do,” the medical assistant later told WKOW.

Portage Police Chief Manthey of the Portage Police Department thanked Guerra for her bravery, WKOW reported. RTWT

Dogs. They really do make everything better! Via SunnySkyz:

A group of Border Collies are having the time of their lives and they don’t even realize how much they are helping the planet.

Last year, wildfires in central Chile destroyed over a million acres of forest land.

Months later, a unique team was brought in to help restore the damaged ecosystem.

A border collie named Das and her two daughters,Olivia and Summer, have been fitted with special backpacks that allow them to distribute native plant seeds throughout burned forests.

Although the task is a serious one, it’s an excuse for the dogs to have fun.

“They reeeeeally love [it]!!” their owner, Francisca Torres, told Mother Nature Network. “It’s a country trip, where they can run as fast as they can and have a great time.”

Depending on the terrain, the four-legged trio can cover as many as 18 miles in a day and distribute more than 20 pounds of seeds.

Credit: Instagram / summerbordercollie via SunnySkyz

Dogs helping to reforest the forest. The longer I live, the longer I come to believe that there is little in this world that cannot be improved with dogs.

Have a nice weekend!

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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. 

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. 

My mom made fruitcakes every year during Christmas season; the rum they were soaked in was all I could smell in our house for weeks and I would only eat the special cake my mom made for me that had no alcohol (I prefer my booze in a glass, thanks). My mother said her fruitcakes would never go bad because of all the alcohol (except for mine, of course) but the theory never got tested because they always got eaten by the people she gave them to. My mom is not old enough to have made the cake they just found in Antarctica, though:

A fruitcake thought to be 106 years old was recently uncovered in an extremely remote Antarctic hut.

The cake was almost “perfectly preserved” and apparently untouched when conservators from the Antarctic Heritage Trust spotted it on a shelf inside a Cape Adare hut, according to Stuff.co.nz.

The shelter was built in 1899 during a Norwegian expedition, but it’s thought that the fruitcake was brought to Cape Adare in 1911 by Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition party.

Lizzie Meek, the trust’s artifacts manager, told Newshub the delicacy still had remnants of Huntley and Palmers brand paper stuck to its side.

“It looks like new, which is quite fantastic,” Meeks said. “It smells a little bit of rancid butter, but it looks beautiful.”

Despite looking “edible,” the researchers were not permitted to taste the cake for ethical reasons.

Meeks added that while the fruitcake’s tin had nearly disintegrated, the cake itself was well preserved due to freezing conditions.

The fruity treat was among nearly 1,500 artifacts found in the Cape Adare huts. The conservators also discovered tools, clothing, sardines, “rather nice looking” jams and “badly deteriorated” meat and fish during their 14-month effort.

Meeks described the fruitcake finding a “quite a surprise.”

“Most people don’t carry a whole fruitcake to Antarctica and not eat it,” she said.

No word on the alcohol content of the cake, but I don’t want to eat it – and it isn’t for “ethical” reasons. Maybe if I had a bunch of alcohol in myself first, but that’s a whole other thing. The cake and other items found with it will be returned to their places of origin so someone else can “discover” them again in the future.

I kind of want to go clear the leftovers out of my fridge now, for posterity or something.

Very old fruitcake

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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.