Archive for May 1st, 2005

Frogs in the Abattoir

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LIMA, Peru (Reuters) – Peruvian officials saved some 4,000 endangered
frogs from being whizzed into popular drinks after they were found hidden
in an abattoir.

"We were checking the fridges when out jumped a frog. It had escaped,
they were in big crates," a spokesman for Lima city hall said on Thursday.

Frog cocktails are popular in the Andes because of their supposed aphrodisiac
qualities. Shops in central Lima selling the drinks have tanks where customers
can choose their frogs.

He said the Telmatobius frogs — which had apparently been brought from
the southern lakes in the high Andes — were found on Wednesday stored
in the abattoir.

They were taken to a colonial fountain in central Lima to splash around
before being returned to their native lakes by ecological police.

"There were about 5,000 of them but 1,000 died because of the conditions
and in transit," the spokesman said.

We admit we had to look abattoir up in the dictionary.  We sorta
thought it meant a frilly French dressing room decorated with low sofas
for trysts and spells of the vapors. Couldn’t be further from the
truth! Turns out it means SLAUGHTERHOUSE! Just like the French to come
up with a perfumed euphamism like that.

Although we are not familiar with the Telmatobius genus, we do have
some passing aquaintence with Peruvian frogs, specifically Bufo Aqua,
native to the Peruvian Amazon and used in Shamanistic ceremonies because
they produce an extremely psychoactive substance called Bufotenine. All
Bufo toads have parotid glands on their backs. The parotid glands produce
many different biologically active compounds-such as the neurotransmitters
serotonin (5-hydroxy-tryptamine), epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine-which
vary from species to species.This
gunk can be ingested directly or dried and smoked, and produces an intense
but short duration psychedelic experience with warm body rushes and perceptual
alterations, both audio and visual.

As to the aphrodesiac frogs, we are somewhat skeptical, although
we have seen first hand another Peruvian jungle aphrodesiac,
Chuchuwasi, reduce in two hours a pair of prim and proper Swiss schoolteachers
to raving, semi-nude harlots dry-humping anything that didn’t flee, so
we have to admit the possibility. We promise our readers to investigate
on our next trip to Peru, before the end of this year.

from Reuters

Suspicious Explosion in Harvard Square

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Our
new phone emitted its distinctive series of chirps and squeals as we
drove through a low mist yesterday, nearing Harvard Square to meet
our younger son, who is once again apartment hunting. The new phone,
which actually has a miniature keyboard with one key for each letter,
has yet to reveal its deeper secrets, but at least we know how to answer
an incoming call.

"Dad, where are you?!" It was our son. He seemed awful excited for the
situation. We had plenty of time to get to the appointment.

"We’re about three blocks from the square.  Where are you?"

He ignored our question and we assumed we was where he said he would
be; in the heart of the Square, in front of the Citizen’s Bank by the
Information Kiosk next to The Pit, where local Goths, Skinheads and
chronic truants hold sway.

Instead,
he practically shouted into the phone, "I think a bomb just exploded
in Harvard.  I think a building is on fire! I can see flames shooting
up!"

"Don’t move! I’ll be right there," we were so excited we forgot to use
the third person.

Quickly we found a parking place, in front of the Post Office on Mt.
Auburn St., and got out of the White Whale. We could see a smear of dirty
black smoke staining the sky like charcoal on a soft, pencil-drawn sky.

By the time we got there police and fire had arrived. Traffic was shut
down through the square. The fire was not a building – it was a white
limousine, which had apparently exploded just as it was entering Johnson
Gate,
the main entrance to Harvard Yard off of Massachusetts Avenue, a mere 50
feet from the office of Harvard President Lawrence Summers.

Smoke and the smell of burning plastic was everywhere. It was still
only 3 or 4 minutes after the explosion, and the firemen already had
the flames out, but the acrid, plastic-smelling smoke was reducing visibility
to a few meters. We looked around for casualties, people coughing, or
burnt, and didn’t see anything. But we couldn’t see what was going on
inside the Yard, where most of the police seemed to be gathered.

What we
COULD see, clearly, was that the center of the zone of destruction was
clearly the back seat of the limo, the passenger area, which was
completely burnt out and gutted.  The front of the vehicle was damaged
where the driver had plowed into the gate, but the engine was not burnt,
nor was the rear, where we assume the fuel tank is located.

No, it looked as though some kind of explosion had occurred in the back
seat.  It was hard to believe that anyone who had been inside at
the time was still alive.  Yet we saw no bodies or even injuries.

After about 15 minutes of watching much coming and going, uniforms,
and trench coats, ambulances and police cars, our son started to get
anxious about missing his appointment.All of the cops we asked either
said, "We don’t know anything more than you do" or "Just an accident,
move along".

We left, figuring that we would hear something on the news station
on the radio, or on line when we got back to our computer. It definitely
looked like a hit, or a suitcase bomb, had gone off in that limo.  Who
was the target? Somebody on their way in to see Pres. Summers? A big
shot parent of a Freshman yard resident? Had they survived? Who would
be blamed?

Imagine our surprise, and subsequent conspiratorial suspicions, when
not a word, not a story, not a mention of the incident reached any of
the local or internet news streams we monitor. We include a couple of
the pictures we took just to establish we aren’t halucinating again.  Just
an accident, probably.  Sure.