Stories that will make your skin crawl...

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The Elephant Man

Being no oil painting myself, I have had my fair share female admirers and  females who have vomited at the thought of me naked...
Joseph Carey Merrick was far better known for his hideous looks than I ever have been.
Only 27 when he died (short even by Victorian standards) and born 5 August 1862, living till 11 April 1890 Merrick was an Englishman who became known as "The Elephant Man" because his physical appearance caused by a congenital disorder. Because of his condition, he garnered the sympathy of Britain during the Victorian era. A number of sources incorrectly give his name as John Merrick not joseph (a common mistake even now).
Joseph Merrick was born to Mary Jane Potterton and Joseph Rockley Merrick. Because of an error made by Sir Frederick Treves in his book, The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences, Merrick is sometimes erroneously called John Merrick. He was the eldest of three and had a younger brother and sister. In an autobiographical note which appeared on the reverse side of his freak show pamphlet, Merrick mentions that his deformity began developing at the age of three with the appearance of small bumps on the left side of his body. His mother died when he was 12. According to family accounts, she was physically disabled as well. His father remarried, but his stepmother did not want young Joseph. Obliged to earn a living by selling goods on the street, Merrick was constantly harassed by local children. Unable to bring home a profit and tired of fighting with his stepmother, Merrick left home.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

World's strangest spa treatments...
Fishy Feet & Bloodsuckers

Fish cleanse a woman’s toes at a Yvonne beauty salon

Feet a bit furry? Call in the piscine medics. Malaysian garra rufa carp have no teeth, which means they nibble away decomposing skin very gently - and thoroughly. They got their nickname, doctor fish, for their use in treating eczema and psoriasis. Described by one writer in Kuala Lumpur as a "micro-massage followed by tingling sensations", the treatment is said to leave the soles baby-smooth and increase blood circulation.

A 20-minute soak in a fish spa at Yvonne's beauty salons in the US costs $70 (£45).

Leeches: said to have numerous positive health effects

Some 3,500 years after Egyptians began applying them medicinally, leeches are back in fashion. The actress Demi Moore raved about her hirudotherapy treatment in Austria, involving four "highly trained leeches" and a turpentine bath. Leeches' saliva, containing anti-clotting, painkilling and antiseptic enzymes, is said to increase circulation.

The Welsh company Biopharm Leeches (slogan: "the biting edge of science") proudly affirms that the marsh-dwelling blood-suckers - with three jaws, each with 100 teeth - are regularly used in plastic surgery and in osteoporosis research.

You can buy and apply your own leeches, or receive a one-on-one leech consultation in various US states, with Ala-Med Hirudotherapy.

((From MSN News Page)

Monday, 22 February 2010

Heavy Breathing Phone Calls...

Starting with this 1975 track by 10cc called Iceberg, a light hearted way to broach the subject...

What to do about Nuisance Calls to get rid of the problem of Phone Hoaxers causing worry and upset.

Making phone calls to annoy people is a form of harassment and is now regarded as a criminal offence, a psychological form of assault.

It is taken quite seriously, and is not "harmless". Police and the criminal justice system will prosecute antisocial behaviour of this type.

Also, ISPs and telephone companies are keen to take action to remove abusers from their systems.

If you are the victim of attacks by phone hoaxers, the first thing to realise is that, in general, people who make hoax phone calls are in some ways psychologically deficient and are doing this as an attempt to compensate for their own inadequacies.

This goes further than the idea of "they haven't properly grown up" and is often symptomatic of an underlying personality fault similar to that found in cases of other types of Abuser.

The second thing to be aware of is this: Yes! You CAN do something about it. Even if the hoaxers are withholding the phone number, using a mobile phone, using other people's phones, or using random public call boxes, they can be caught, and they often are, much to their surprise.

When caught, they can be punished. Punishments for psychological assault and telephone misuse vary from place to place, but are generally to a level where the guilty party will not be smiling about it afterwards.


The methods for dealing with the problems of phone hoaxing are twofold: Psychological defences, and practical action.


Let's not underestimate the psychological aspects.

It's very annoying to have ignorant oafs phoning you up and saying stupid things. If late at night and/or if you feel the tone is threatening, it can be especially upsetting.

But you have to build up your psychological strength to have some defence against this.

The attackers are not making themselves look big by it, and by indulging in such puerile practices they have already demeaned themselves.

If you lived in a fortified castle and you heard that someone was throwing bad fruit at the outer walls, you'd surely laugh at them from the top of the ramparts!?

Your enemy might not even be worth an arrow.


Then again, you might decide that they are worth hitting back, even if only to make an example of them to deter other would-be nuisance hoaxers.

The news on this is good, as there are many practical things that can be done.

Firstly, get CALLER DISPLAY. In the UK, this is now free, thanks to British Telecom! You might have to buy a small gadget, or a new caller display phone, but these are not expensive. See BT

Next, set up a POLICY. This is your set of resolutions on what you are going to do. By having a clearly defined set of rules which you define, you have a consistent logical method. (instead of being swayed by emotions).

Now the key feature of tackling hoax calls. This is important, and although it may seem at first glance to be weak, it isn't. It's a well-proven method which works, as it generates scientific evidence which can be used in a court case against the perpetrators of the nuisance calls. Here's what you do: Get a blank book, a pen, and an accurate clock. Have these near the phone. When a hoax call comes in, make a note in the book. Note down the exact date and time, the incoming caller number (or "withheld", if appropriate), and the nature of the call, duration, etc. For hoax calls, you as the recipient should not say anything. By starving the hoaxers of any response by you, they may at some point just give up (and go and annoy someone else, or play with themselves, etc). Bullies of various types are seekers of the cheap thrill, and will be disappointed by your silence. see bullying Anyway, back to this thing about the

PHONE HOAX BOOK. As we already know the hoax calls are a campaign of harassment, if you stick to your principle of writing down accurate logs of incoming hoax calls, you will end up with a record of evidence. Here's the sort of thing:
SHOP. Around the world, an increasing number of telephone exchange networks also have similar facilities to Caller Display. I've even heard a lyric in a song which goes ..."what the hell is Call ID?!" and "my friends say I should act my age" etc. Having got Call ID / Caller Display, you can now opt to ignore incoming calls from known sources. Incidentally, if the caller uses "number withheld", this may be regarded as bad anyway. Many people will not answer incoming "withheld" anonymous calls. "Withheld" is clearly distinct from "International" which also has no incoming number, usually.

Date/Time Number Description Duration
2006/05/23 02:20 1234 heavy breathing 20 seconds
2006/05/23 02:23 1234 various people shouting and saying nonsensical things in the background 10 seconds
2006/05/23 02:31 1234 inane laughing 10 seconds
2006/05/24 15:06 1234 someone saying in a menacing voice "I'm going to kill you and torture your cat" and then a few other people laughing in the background, then hung up about 15 seconds
2006/05/24 15:10 1234 various shouted insults, but hard to decipher 5 seconds
2006/05/25 23:38 withheld silence 10 seconds
2006/05/25 23:41 withheld silence 5 seconds
2006/05/25 23:47 withheld silence, apart from radio in background 5 seconds

This is just an example to show the type of thing. If you make a note of incoming telephone hoaxes, it should have a similar form to this.

The thing about a list like this is that it is a testimony of events. The exact times recorded are the key feature, like a fingerprint. This will later be used for matching up to other evidence. The chances are you have your suspicions about who is guilty of this terrible campaign of harassment. When you present your hoax book to the police and the phone companies, they can cross reference it with the suspect's phone. If it is found that your list of hoaxes happens to fit with the suspect's phone log of outgoing calls, then the police will be able to prove the person guilty of being a nuisance caller and they will be dealt with accordingly. The phone company may take a different view of justice in action and may cut off the culprit's phone.

The reason this method works so well is because, although you might in theory be able to write an entirely faked-up hoax book, it would not match up to any phone owned by the person you are accusing. You can see a similar effect in the way people make up six numbers to put on their National Lottery ticket, and then we see if the numbers happen to match up to the actual winning numbers on the National Lottery prize draw!

On being cornered, the hoaxers will most likely make up a variety of poor excuses to try to defend themselves, including the irrational notion used by most abusers, that it was all the fault of the victim. Alternatively, a hoaxer may apologise, in which case it's then up to you to be gracious about it, or not, according to your personal nature.

Either way, the end result is generally that peace is restored; You don't get any more nuisance calls, and the perpetrator does not re-offend.

Other useful contacts:

BT Nuisance Call Bureau: uk 0800 411422

NTL UK Nuisance Call abuse reporting line: 0800 052 1370



BT NUISANCE CALL ACTION LINE: 0800 085 4750 or 08003289393. Now 0800 411422 (office hours 8:30-5:00 mon-fri)

POLICE: (look the number up in your local area)

Also see How to Stop TEXT MESSAGES

"Trying to psychoanalyse telephone nuisance call perpetrators is always tricky, but usually the reason turns out to be jealousy, or some kind of personal failing in the personal life of the hoaxer. It's best not to get involved. Police advice is to initially ignore hoax messages and if the problem persists, then go for an investigation. Offenders can be prosecuted, but are sometimes let off with a warning, but with their details stored on a police database a bit like the sex offenders register in case they repeat-offend. This usually does the trick, and repeat offenders are rare".

Here's some advice by a helpful ex-telecom correspondent:

BT register the sender and receiver of all calls, it is necessary for the automated billing system. This has been the case ever since the UK 'System X' automated exchange network was commissioned. Even if the hoax caller uses the 141 'number with-held prefix' the caller is registered. But BT don't like to admit this.

If you note the exact time the call was received BT can bring up the number [ and address] from where the call was made; however BT [and TalkTalk and Virgin etc] have a policy of offering a 141 caller privacy service, so they will not divulge the number to you. Neither will they take action against 'idiot calls', several thousand are reported weekly.

There are exceptions to this, such as when the police request a number and a location; in cases involving terrorism, blackmail or death threats. A classic example was the kidnapper Michael Sams who used the same phone box in Sleaford-Linc's to arrange a ransom for the release of his victim. Police were able to stake out the area around the phone box ready for his next call and arrest him.

So my advice.
First dial 1471 just in case the caller forgot to with-hold the number.
Note the time of the call and always report it to you service provider.
If it involves threats to life, threats to children, blackmail, or similar, involve the police.

Sunday, 21 February 2010


Tapeworm infestation can be well over 1 metre long...

Passing a tape worm

A head of a Tapeworm

Tapeworm in animal feces

Cestoda is a class of parasitic flatworms, commonly called tapeworms, that live in the digestive tract of vertebrates as adults and often in the bodies of various animals as juveniles. Taenia saginata, the beef tapeworm, can grow up to 40 feet long (12 m); other species may grow to over 100 feet (30 m)

The worm's scolex ("head") attaches to the intestine of the definitive host. In some species, the scolex is dominated by bothria, which are sometimes called "sucking grooves", and function like suction cups. Other species have hooks and suckers that aid in attachment. Cyclophyllid cestodes can be identified by the presence of four suckers on their scolex. Tapeworms have sharp hooks on one side of the head which dig into the lining of the host's intestine.

Once anchored to the host intestinal wall, the tapeworm begins to grow a long tail. (The tapeworm’s body is basically a head segment to hold on with, a neck, and many tail segments). Each segment making up the tail is like a separate independent body, with an independent digestive system and reproductive tract. The tapeworm absorbs nutrients through its skin as the food being digested by the host flows past it. Older segments are pushed toward the tip of the tail as new segments are produced by the neckpiece. By the time a segment has reached the end of the tail, only the reproductive tract is left. When the segment drops off, it is basically just a sac of tapeworm eggs.

While the scolex is often the most distinctive part of an adult tapeworm, it is often unnoticed in a clinical setting as it is inside the patient. Thus, identifying eggs and proglottids in feces is important.

The main nerve centre of a cestode is in its scolex; as a cerebral ganglion. Motor and sensory innervation depends on the number and complexity of the scolex. Smaller nerves emanate from the commissures to supply the general body muscular and sensory ending. The cirrus and vagina are innervated and sensory endings around the genital pore are more plentiful than other areas. Sensory function includes both tactoreception and chemoreception. Some nerves are only temporary. These are in the proglottids, and stop working with a detach.

The body is composed of successive segments (proglottids). The sum of the proglottids is called a strobila, which is thin, resembling a strip of tape, and is the source of the common name "tapeworm". Like some other flatworms, cestodes use flame cells (protonephridia), located in the proglottids, for excretion.

Mature proglottids are released from the tapeworm's posterior end and leave the host in feces.

Because each proglottid contains the male and female reproductive structures, they can reproduce independently. It has been suggested by some biologists that each should be considered a single organism, and that the tapeworm is actually a colony of proglottids.

The layout of proglottids comes in two forms, craspedote, meaning proglottids are overlapped by the previous proglottid, and acraspedote which indicates a non-overlapping conjoined proglottid.

Many tapeworms have a two-phase life cycle with two types of host. The adult taenia saginata, for example lives in the gut of a primate such as a human. Proglottids leave the body through the anus and fall onto the ground, where they may be eaten with grass by animals such as cows. In the cow's body the juvenile forms migrate and establish themselves as cysts in body tissues such as muscles, rather than the gut; they cause more damage to this host than the intestinal form to its host. The parasite completes its life cycle when the grass-eater is eaten by a compatible carnivore—possibly a human with a preference for rare meat—in whose gut the adult taenia establishes itself. While being treated for certain tapeworm infections, you can reinfect yourself by ingesting tapeworm eggs shed by the adult worm into your stool.

There are fourteen recognised orders of Cestodes: the Amphilinidea, Gyrocotylidea and 12 orders belonging to the Eucestoda. Within the Eucestoda the Spathebothriidea appear to be a sister group to the remaining 11 orders. The Pseudophyllidea and Haplobothriidea appear to form a clade as do Cyclophyllidea, Nippotaeniidea and Tetrabothriidea.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Worm Farming: Livestock for the Home Gardener

Who says that you need big acreage, fencing, and a place in the country in order to raise small livestock? You can ignore zoning ordinances, noise restrictions, or the neighbor’s objections when it comes to worm farming no matter where you reside.

Composting worms are the perfect breed of livestock for the gardener who wants to raise a little more than fruits, vegetables, and herbs in the backyard. The worms won’t put meat on the dinner table but they’ll happily recycle your kitchen waste and turn it into a rich, organic plant food known as worm castings.

I was fortunate enough to inherit a four-story worm bin, complete with red wriggler composting worms when a co-worker relocated out of state this summer (thanks Gretchen)! I’ve written about the perks of vermiculture and worm castings here in the past but this was my first attempt at vermicomposting.

The worms spent the summer contentedly out on the patio but this weekend I decided it was time to bring them indoors for the winter. The transition gave me a perfect excuse to tear things apart and take a close look at what was happening inside the worm bin. The experience was very similar to inspecting a colony of bees inside of a hive.

While there isn’t the same level of complexity, communication, and organization that the bees employ, the worms do enjoy their own sense of community and teamwork. My bin has four stackable trays in which the worms are free to roam around as they forage for food, mate, lay eggs, and do whatever other things worms do.

Touring a Deluxe Multi-Level Worm Condo

The lower level of the bin was full of finished worm castings along with a surprising number of earthworms in every stage of their development; full grown adults, juveniles, new hatchlings, and freshly laid eggs or worm cocoons. I had assumed that all but a few stragglers had abandoned this section of the worm bin to move up to greener pastures but I was wrong.

The second level of the bin was empty except for the commuters traveling up or down to reach the other levels so there wasn’t much to see in this section. The third level is where I thought all the action would be taking place because this is where I had been depositing table scraps and yard waste all summer long to feed the hungry beasts.

A giant overgrown zucchini, water hyacinths out of the pond, those mysteriously half eaten tomatoes left on the vines, weeds yanked from the garden, and other assorted organic yard matter joined the kitchen waste and shredded strips of paper that made their way into the third level to be assaulted in a piranha-like feeding frenzy.

Warning: Compost Under Construction, Do Not Disturb

It was amazing to see just how quickly the worms were able to devour whatever came their way and convert it into the black crumbly gold of rich worm castings! Unlike bees, it wasn’t possible to actually watch them work because they retreat from sight and disappear the second that a tray is exposed to any light. That led to some interesting bouts of peak-a-boo and hide-and-go-seek between the worms and myself.

The top tray of the bin was a wasteland of dried leaves, stalks, and debris that the worms didn’t seem to be taking much interest in. The only sign of life in this tray was from light colored, threadlike strands of baby worms that you had to look really close to notice. Guess these youngins were still finding their way around, figuring out up from down, and learning what’s good or bad.

After exploring the can-o-worms bin, I spent the rest of the afternoon separating worms from castings. The job was made a lot easier by the worm’s determination to avoid the light of day and move away and down deeper as each thin layer of castings was gently scraped away. They could only run so far until eventually I was left with nothing but a twisted mass of wriggling worms.

Relocating the Composting Worms Indoors for the Winter

Sorting through the castings you could clearly notice some areas containing concentrations of adult worms and others with pockets of barely discernible baby worms. I tried my best to save every single worm but I know that some of the adults and many of the babies will be going off to the garden when I add the castings to bed that I just finished preparing to plant the fall garlic in later this week.

Once the worm bin was cleaned, castings removed, and everything reassembled, order was restored as I divided the worms onto the top of two of the trays where a smorgasbord of delightful organic waste awaited them. Then the entire production was moved indoors to a corner of the room used for propagation and seed starting activities.

I have to admit that I’m very impressed with these red wriggler composting worms and the work that they are doing in their bin. They seem to be healthy and multiplying, with little effort on my part beyond feeding them garbage. Now I’ll see how it goes in the house and over the winter for my small livestock and worm farming operation.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Woman of Steel Offers Creepy Crawly Care

Melanie Steele with her trusty dust comb

Head lice next to a match and a coin

From The Oakdale Leader by Kim Van Meter... Even mention the word “lice” and people start scratching their heads and shuddering at the thought of the creepy crawly nuisances doing the mambo in their children’s hair but for Oakdale resident Melanie Steele, the critters don’t bother her at all — which is a good thing seeing as people pay Steele for her delousing skills.

In a day and age where the future is now and technology is moving along at top speed, it’s hard to believe that something as simple and evolutionarily simple as a louse can still make people’s lives miserable with all the itching and scratching — not to mention highly contagious nature — but lice are still around and they’re still a pain to get rid of.

Especially if you aren’t even sure how to effectively rid your child and house of the tiny irritants. That’s where Steele comes in.

“It started out as a favor for friends and it doesn’t really bother me at all so I thought why not open a business,” Steele said of her 4-month-old Creepy Critter Hair Care business.

Steele uses an all-natural product called Lice Killer and the essential ingredients are as innocuous as tea tree oil, Eucalyptus oil, and coconut oil (just to name a few) and according to Steele, not only are they more effective than the harsh chemicals sold over the counter, they don’t smell so bad and they’re safe enough to use on babies.

Steele spends the time to comb out the hair with the specialized nit comb as well as uses a magnifying glass to ensure the hair is nit-free and then sends the client home with a special spray that can be used on furniture and bedding to deter further infestation.

The key, said Steele, is the follow-through, which most people don’t do because it’s tedious and time-consuming. “Education on the house is important,” Steele said.

“If they don’t clean the house it’ll start all over again. Once they start laying eggs they can lay eight eggs per louse per day. In a month’s time, that’s a lot of nasty little critters.”

Typically, parents mistake lice for dandruff until the itching starts in earnest.

By that time, the child is infested. Since opening her business, Steele has seen all kinds of home remedies — some quite dangerous and caustic — and varying levels of infestation.

“One woman put kerosene on the head of her little girl, trying to get rid of the lice,” Steele shared.

“One treatment with the product I use and the lice is gone.”

Steele, a bakery worker for Costco for the past 20 years, said while she never got lice as a child growing up in Oakdale and Waterford, she did catch them as an adult when she volunteered in the kids center at her church.

Steele laughs about the experience but she understands that no one likes to admit that they’ve had lice so she maintains confidentiality with her clients.

“You don’t think anything about mosquitoes or ticks but for some reason there’s a stigma to lice and people get embarrassed,” Steele said. But Steele finds the whole process interesting and while others may grimace, she just laughs and sets to work, saying she enjoys helping people.

“I can’t imagine these kids sleeping with those things in their hair,” Steele said.

“Lice become active at night and that’s when they really itch.

I’m sure it’s miserable.”

Steele said winter seems to have more outbreaks as people are in close quarters due to the weather and wearing more clothing, which offers more of an opportunity for the transference of the creepy crawlies.

While some places in the Los Angeles area charge upwards of $150 an hour, Steele is far more reasonable in her pricing.

“I just enjoy helping children,” she said.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Maggots and Maggot therapy

Maggots rid diabetic patient of an antibiotic-resistant infection, methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Maggot therapy (also known as maggot debridement therapy (MDT), larval therapy, larva therapy, larvae therapy, biodebridement or biosurgery) is a type of biotherapy involving the intentional introduction of live, disinfected maggots (fly larvae) into the non-healing skin and soft tissue wound(s) of a human or animal for the purposes of selectively cleaning out only the necrotic tissue within a wound (debridement), disinfection, and promotion of wound healing.

Early history

Written records have documented that maggots have been used since antiquity as a wound treatment. There are reports of the successful use of maggots for wound healing by Maya Indians and Aboriginal tribes in Australia. There also have been reports of the use of maggot treatment in Renaissance times. During warfare, many military physicians observed that soldiers whose wounds had become colonized with maggots experienced significantly less morbidity and mortality than soldiers whose wounds had not become colonized. These physicians included Napoleon’s surgeon general, Baron Dominique Larrey, who reported during France's Egyptian campaign in Syria, 1798–1801, that certain species of fly destroyed only dead tissue and had a positive effect on wound healing.

Dr. Joseph Jones, a ranking Confederate medical officer during the American Civil War, is quoted as follows, "I have frequently seen neglected wounds ... filled with maggots ... as far as my experience extends, these worms only destroy dead tissues, and do not injure specifically the well parts." The first therapeutic use of maggots is credited to a second Confederate medical officer Dr. J.F. Zacharias, who reported during the American Civil War that, "Maggots ... in a single day would clean a wound much better than any agents we had at our command ... I am sure I saved many lives by their use." He recorded a high survival rate in patients he treated with maggots.

During World War I, Dr. William S. Baer, an orthopedic surgeon, recognized on the battlefield the efficacy of maggot colonization for healing wounds. He observed one soldier left for several days on the battlefield who had sustained compound fractures of the femur and large flesh wounds of the abdomen and scrotum. When the soldier arrived at the hospital, he had no signs of fever despite the serious nature of his injuries and his prolonged exposure to the elements without food or water. When his clothes were removed, it was seen that "thousands and thousands of maggots filled the entire wounded area." To Dr. Baer's surprise, when these maggots were removed "there was practically no bare bone to be seen and the internal structure of the wounded bone as well as the surrounding parts was entirely covered with most beautiful pink tissue that one could imagine." This case took place at a time when the death rate for compound fractures of the femur was about 75-80%.

Modern use

While at Johns Hopkins University in 1929, Dr. Baer introduced maggots into 21 patients with intractable chronic osteomyelitis. He observed rapid debridement, reductions in the number of pathogenic organisms, reduced odor levels, alkalinization of wound beds, and ideal rates of healing. All 21 patients' open lesions were completely healed and they were released from the hospital after 2 months of maggot therapy.

After the publication of Dr. Baer's results in 1931, maggot therapy for wound care became very common, particularly in the United States. The Lederle pharmaceutical company commercially produced "Surgical Maggots", larvae of the green bottle fly, which primarily feed on the necrotic tissue of the living host without attacking living tissue. Between 1930 and 1940, more than 100 medical papers were published on maggot therapy. Medical literature of this time contains many references to the successful use of maggots in chronic or infected wounds including osteomyelitis, abscesses, burns, sub-acute mastoiditis, and chronic empyema.

More than 300 American hospitals employed maggot therapy during the 1940s. The extensive use of maggot therapy prior to World War II was curtailed when the discovery and growing use of penicillin caused it to be deemed outdated.

Maggots are contained in a cage-like dressing over the wound for two days. The maggots may be allowed to move freely within that cage, with the wound floor acting as the bottom of the cage; or the maggots may be contained within a sealed pouch, placed on top of the wound. The dressing must be kept air permeable because maggots require oxygen to live. When maggots are satiated, they become substantially larger and seek to leave the site of a wound. Multiple two-day courses of maggot therapy may be administered depending on the severity of the non-healing wound.

Maggots can never reproduce in the wound since they are still in the larval stage and too immature to do so. Reproduction can only occur when they become adult flies and mate.