I crawled into bed with Sheri and discovered Guapo (the grey cat) was under the covers where he likes to sleep next to her. He wasn't ready to sleep and still had some playing around to do, so Sheri politely invited him to get out from under the covers. He did so, planting himself next to my head, and proceeded to scratch behind his right ear with his right foot in a vigorous manner. I commented to Sheri that I would like to be able to scratch behind my ears with my foot, to which she responded by informing me that when I start doing that, I would be sharing the cats' litter box instead of having my own bathroom.
I thought it would be a good time to get up and write a little bit and let her fall asleep before she gets any other bright ideas.
I started thinking about what I had said though... about being able to scratch behind my ears with my foot... how cool would THAT be? Then I started thinking about some of the other abilities animals have that would certainly be useful to me if I could have those same powers.
Take bats, for instance. Bats avoid obstacles and nab insects on the wing by emitting ultrasonic squeaks and interpreting the echo the sound waves make after bouncing off objects in the environment. This biological sonar, called "echolocation," is also used by dolphins to navigate murky waters. If Sheri ever does take away my bathroom, this echolocation that bats and dolphins are able to do would sure come in handy when I'm trying to get to the litter box in the middle of the night.
Did you ever play hide-and-seek when you were a kid? Do you play it now with your children? It's a fun game, but never play hide-and-seek with a shark because you'll lose. Sharks have special cells in their brains that are sensitive to the electrical fields other creatures generate. This ability is so refined in some sharks that they can find fish hiding under sand by the weak electric signals their twitching muscles emit.
And here I am, unable to tell if a raccoon has entered my bedroom until it runs across my face. As far as the electricity... I have to get "bit" by 120 volts a few times before my brain is jolted enough to go flip the breaker to the "off" position before wiring the light switch or electrical outlet in the homes that I build. If I were a shark, I would save myself a lot of agony and pain... plus it would be cool to always know where someone is hiding.
Snakes... besides being able to slither around without any arms or legs, temperature-sensitive organs located between the eyes and nostrils of boas and pit vipers allow the snakes to sense the body heat of their prey. There is one located on each side of the snakes' head, so the animals can perceive depth and strike with deadly accuracy even in complete darkness. I can't even tell when my food is too hot to eat without ending up with seared flesh from the inside of my own mouth. I'd like the ability to be as menacing as snakes are too. Just once I'd like someone to spot me out of the corner of their eye and then turn and run right smack into a tree. Maybe I should haul out my driver’s license photo once in a while.
For moths, the term "love is in the air" is something to be taken literally. The furry insects can detect chemical love signals, called "pheromones," emitted by the opposite sex from up to seven-miles away. Some studies show humans also detect pheromones, but the effect seems to require close encounters. Seriously, do front porch lights emit these pheromones, or what? It would be awesome to detect anything from seven miles away, but I'm not sure I could handle that whole slamming myself into a light bulb as a trade off for having that talent.
This one is kinda neat... Most rats have poor vision, but they make up for it with the "whiskers" on their snouts. They use the long hairs, also called "vibrissae," in the same way that blind people use canes. By whisking the hairs across objects the come across, rats and other rodents form mental pictures of their surroundings. I keep telling Sheri that I need to keep my whiskers for this very reason, but she's not buying into it. And why don't these rats have food in their whiskers after they eat like I do?
Anyway... these are the kinds of things I think about when I'm trying to fall asleep. Not really all that surprising then that I have dreams about Cheech and Chong being missionaries for our church.
Some people manage to even develop super powers based on some otherwise loathsome members of the animal kingdom. Spiders, bats, and teenaged turtles pop instantly into my mind. I wonder what kind of superhero I could be if I picked an animal based on my personality or some other feature that I possess. Scary thought on so many different levels, huh?
I'm not totally convinced that all of my running around the house with a towel clothespinned around my neck at the tender age of 11 is a sufficient prerequisite for my foray into the superhero business anyway.
If the personality of my alter-ego mirrored my own, then I suppose a crime fighting, cape wearing gastropod by the name of "slug-man" might be slowly oozing down main street in Smalltown America awaiting for the next crime spree. Doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of organized crime figures, I'm afraid. Besides, while Kryptonite might be difficult to obtain for the population, the one thing that would stop me in my tracks as Slug-Man can be found in any kitchen across the land... in the form of salt.
I could be like the Incredible Hulk, except I don't exactly have a body-builder physique. I'd be more like the Incredible Bulk, growing fatter and fatter when I get angry... or hungry. "You don't want to make me hungry, you crime guy, you. You wouldn't like me when I get hungry." I'm not really sure how I could fight crime by eating and growing huge, but it's kinda fun to think about, especially if I get to carry holsters filled with Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream.
I'm always thinking about stuff, so Owl-Guy might fit the bill... I even wear glasses now to complete the effect. I'm much better at night anyway. Owls have two main methods to hunt their prey. The first one is called perch and pounce. The owl would find their prey and sit on a perch. Then the owl will quietly leap on their prey and take the prey back to its nest. The second way to hunt is the quartering method. Open-country owls usually use this. The owl will be soaring over the sky looking for its prey and then it'll swoop down and grab the prey. With either method I choose to catch criminals of the century, I'm sure that everyone across the land would sleep much better knowing that Owl-Guy is prowling and patrolling the skies.
I don't know. Maybe I'm not really cut out to be a superhero. Maybe I should just stick to building houses and leave the crime fighting to those with real animal skills.
In the meantime, I'm going to visit my chiropractor this week to see if he can help me with that original thought I had while watching my cat. I'm still going to work on the scratching behind my ears with my foot. If for no other reason, I want to be able to handle that pesky itch and still keep both hands on my chicken sandwich.
I'm just saying.
Until next time...