This has to be one of the greatest Rube Goldberg Machines ever created.. I don’t often put other people’s work up here, but every now and then something so great comes along that I have to do it.. This is one of those times..

Enjoy!

And as an added extra bonus today only – if you watch in the next 15 minutes – the Notra Dame Marching Band version…

 

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Well, friends, it’s time to embark on another adventure into the wonderful world of Animals. This time, we are going to learn all about an animal near and dear to my own heart (they became that way yesterday), the Alpaca.

The Alpaca,” you ask?

Yes! The Alpaca,” I answer.

What is an Alpaca? Well, It’s kinda hard to describe unless you have seen one. Fortunately, I have seen one. In fact, I have seen several – all of them yesterday.

Thinking about it, it’s even hard to describe an Alpaca even if you have seen one. Or more. But they look kinda like a cross between a camel and a shetland pony. And if that doesn’t help, they also smell like a cross between a camel and a shetland pony.

Does that help?

Maybe this will help…

As we will see down the road, Alpacas come in a variety of sizes, colors and hair styles. But they all have the same number of humps – Zero.

This Alpaca (dubbed “Ringo” by my wife, Judy) is a fine example of a “Rock Star Alpaca”, as delineated by the hair style made famous by some 1960s rock group or other.

But I digress…

Why did I see several Alpacas yesterday?

I’ll tell you…

It all started when Judy and I were paying for our meal at China Delight a couple of weeks ago. We were standing at the cash register, and there it was, ensconced in the traditional “Free Rag” stand that you will see in many retail outlets.  The ubiquitous (in our area, anyway) Java Mountain News.

We really should avoid picking up the Java Mountain News but, as I said, it’s free…  And, besides, that’s where I got the idea for Cow Facts, one of my biggest hits on this site.

(Truth be told, I had been looking to the JMN for years in hopes of lightning striking twice and have been consistently disappointed in the content since the “Cow Facts” issue. I ceased reading it a couple of years ago because I couldn’t stand the frustration any longer.)

But I digress, yet again…

Judy decided that it was time to pick up another issue and did so.

And, like last time, nothing happened with it until a week.5 later when she needed something to read in the porcelain closet. Aparantly, she was so impressed by an ad that she left the JMN there, opened to the ad, for the next occupant to read and ponder.

Seeing as there are only two people currently residing at our house, I was the next occupant.

I read.

I pondered.

I immediately forgot all about it. 

Judy, on the other hand, is not one to forget an ad that looks like this:

 

So, when she and I were in the back yard yesterday draging dead trees from where they were to the vicinity of the burn pit, she said, “Hey – when we’re done here, you want to go see the Alpacas?”

Who are the Alpacas? Do we know them from church or do you work with one of them?”

Neither. They are animals and they live on a ranch in North Fork.”

What kind of animals?”

They’re hard to describe unless you’ve ever seen one.”

Wait a minute. Did you leave an ad in front of the throne?”

Yeah – that’s what they look like.”

How do they see? They don’t have eyes. Do they use sonar – like bats?””

Maybe that’s one of the many things we can learn about them when we go there.”

I think I have plans. I need to polish my nails. Or something. Maybe wash my hair.”

Come on! It will be fun!”

So is washing my hair.”

The “Look”…

OK. Let’s go see the Alpacas…”

To be continued…

 

My wife, Judy, is currently enrolled in medical school. Yes, medical school. At the University of Edinburgh School of Medicine in Scotland. Sounds impressive, huh? 

Well, actually, it is. She’s not studying to be a doctor, but to earn a certificate in Translational Medicine. One of the most impressive parts of this is that, normally, only Medical Doctors are accepted into that program. And not many of them, either.

Don’t ask me how she got accepted into the program – I have no idea. But I do know that this isn’t the first time she has mannaged to get into a highly specialized and prestigious program. A few years ago, she earned a Fellowship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Bioinformatics. In that program, there are only about 30 students accepted from around the world per year.  She is a Course Fellow in that program. (No, she is not coarse, and she most definitely is not a fellow, so don’t ask again…)

While motoring Northward last weekend with Judy, our son Steven and his girlfriend Amanda, I brought up the fact that “Mom is in medical school”.

Steve, while not unaccustomed to his mother being in some course of study or other, was somewhat intrigued by the fact that she was now in medical school.

“Really? Mom, are you going to be a doctor?”

“Well, no, Steve. I’m actually in a certificate program in Translational Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.”

“In Scotland?”

“Yes. In Scotland.”

“So, what’s translational medicine?”

At this point, Judy launched into a very detailed and informative description of Translational Medicine. And while the following is not word for word what she actually said (I borrowed it from wikipedia), it sounds remarkably like Judy’s monolog – it covers the same stuff.

Only she said a whole lot more and she went on for about 15 minutes


“It is the process which leads from evidence based medicine to sustainable solutions for public health problems. It aims to improve the health and longevity of the world’s populations and depends on developing broad-based teams of scientists and scholars who are able to focus their efforts to link basic scientific discoveries with the arena of clinical investigation, and translating the results of clinical trials into changes in clinical practice, informed by evidence from the social and political sciences. It has several phases:

“It investigates and translates non-clinical research results into clinical applications and tests their safety and efficacy in a Phase 1 clinical trial.The concept arose from research into pharmacotherapy and formed the initial basis for evidence-based practice and clinical guidelines, now incorporated into Translational Medicine. In the case of drug discovery and development, translational research typically refers to the translation of non-human research finding, from the laboratory and from animal studies, intotherapies for patients. This is often called “bench to bedside”. pharmaceutical companies and contract research organisations have a translational medicine division to facilitate the interaction between basic research and clinical medicine to design and conduct clinical trials….”

As I mentioned above, this kind of talk went on for about 15 minutes. I don’t know if anybody in the car, other than Judy, understood a word she said, but it sure sounded impressive. 

At this point, she took a breath. And that’s when Steve asked a pertinent question.

“So, will you get to carry a gun?”

I immediately pulled over to the far right lane because the tears were blurring my vision and it was getting hard to see well enough to drive safely…

Meanwhile Judy, completely unable to process what had just happened, sat in stunned silence for the next 22.3 miles, wondering what it was that she said that would cause everybody to laugh so long and hard…

And my stomach still hurts…

Drives like a gnat… Looks like a toe…

But they are easy to come by – you get them in Crackerjack boxes. 

You can’t just buy one. You have to buy two – one for each foot.

I scrape these things of my windshield.

It looks like something that fell off a charm bracelet.

You have to remember not to leave it lying around anywhere because if somebody steps on it they could break their neck. Imagine the lawsuit… 

Honey! I think I found your lost ear ring! 

It’s safe as long as you don’t collide with a bicycle. Or a skateboard.

Or a Fly Swatter…

Amazing what you can find when you floss regularly…

The setup:

This morning at about 4:45 I was lying in bed trying my best not to be awake when it occurred to me that I needed to visit the bathroom. So, stealthily so as not to disturb Judy from her slumber, I slithered from the bed and skulked my way to the bathroom.

After a successful mission there, I decided that I was ready for a glass of Carnation Instant Breakfast and I made my way to the kitchen.

While I mixed up my early morning pre-breakfast, by the light of the refrigerator, I looked out the window over the sink and discovered that it had snowed during the night – the first snow of the year. I thought that was kind of neat, so I went to the breakfast nook to get a better look through the larger windows.

Immagine my surprise when I discovered that, while standing at the window, my right foot was partially submerged in a puddle of cold liquid…

Thinking water must have leaked in through the window, I felt around the sill and frame for more moisture. There was none.

This was, both, a very good sign (because it meant that there was nothing wrong with the construction and installation of the windows) and a very bad sign (because the only other possible sources of the liquid I could think of were me, Judy and Max).

I knew it wasn’t me, and I was cautiously hopeful that it wasn’t Judy. That left only Max.

The chagrin I was experiencing was exacerbated by the fact that the sink and everything necessary to clean up the mess is located about 20 feet from where I was standing with my drippy foot. Not only that, but there is a glass dinette set and a granite island that are positioned between where I was and where I wanted to be.

As I had not the slightest desire to track the biologically induced liquid across the entire kitchen floor, it was required that I hop on one foot from point “A” to point”B” and back again, all the while negotiating the necessary course corrections around the previously mentioned impediments.

And, because I had closed the refrigerator door after constructing my breakfast drink, I had to do all this in the dark. 

After I did the cleanup job, both on the floor and my right foot, I went back to bed.

Judy had, somehow, woken up and asked me if everything was OK…

“Everything is fine. I just went to get something to drink,” I replied. “Except that the dog peed on the kitchen floor.”

“The dog?”

“Yes. I figure the only other possibilities were you and me, and I knew it wasn’t me. Plus, I assumed that it wasn’t you because you would have cleaned up after yourself.”

“But you said ‘the dog’.”

“Yes. The dog.”

“You have never referred to Max as ‘the dog’ before.”

“He has never peed on the kitchen floor before.”

“So if he pees on the kitchen floor, you call him ‘the dog’, but any other time he is ‘Max.”

“Yes….…………And let that be a lesson to you.”

As it happens, this warning appears to have been sufficient to keep Judy from peeing on the kitchen floor because it’s been about 15 hours and it’s still dry.

And this is a very good thing because I don’t want to have to call her anything other than ‘Judy’ or ‘Honey’ or ‘Sweetie’ or some other term of endearment. 

I’m fairly certain that we both like it that way…