I wish…


No, I haven’t forgotten how to blog all of a sudden — I’ve been distracted. I wrenched an ankle wrestling with a snow blower the other day, and woke up this morning with my foot all swoll up like a lumpy ol’ potato with five little toes wiggling at one end. It’s not good.

Joints are such a fragile point of failure. I’m finding the little lower torso replacement illustrated above extremely enticing right now.


  1. Wowbagger says

    That’s a bummer. Still, I’m sure there has to be at least one down side to having tentacles. You’d have to buy a lot more socks for starters…

  2. Diego says

    I can one up you there. On Christmas Eve I tripped and fell and dislocated my elbow. It hurt like Hell, but it was pretty cool from an biologist point of view to see an X-ray with my ulna next to my humerus. So I am typing this comment one-handed and on percocet. I hope there aren’t too many typos!

  3. Keviefriend says

    Wow, I’m sorry Dr. Myers. Hugs and I hope you’re better, or at least better than that, when your next semester starts in a couple weeks (I’m guessing, mine starts 12 January).

  4. Cruithne says

    I have a confession to make.
    I always thought Ursula the sea witch from the Little Mermaid was very sexy.

  5. Rheinhard says

    Hmmm… a octopoid bottom would be better for getting around under icy conditions… all those suckers would make slippage far less likely methinks, and the lack of bone would make injury less likely if one fell anyway.

    As to the other thing involved in the lower extremities, well, I’ll just quote Vir Cotto:

    “We have eight.” :-)

  6. Rey Fox says

    Yeah, we really need to get cracking on the android prosthetics. I’d replace my traitorous plantar-fasciited right foot in a heartbeat right now.

  7. Patricia, OM says

    Much sympathy PZ! Have a nice toddy. I’m glad you at least feel up to putting out a new topic. Rick Warren is about to drive the Ilk mad.

    Diego, sympathy to you also. I fell over a Bulldog in the dark and cracked my elbow a few weeks ago. Elbows really smart.

  8. jb says

    I’ve long been convinced that those macho machines, like lawnmowers and snowblowers, conspire in the middle of the night to take out as many of their operators as possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get their secret instructions directly from the FSM.

  9. says

    My only holiday injury, aside from my liver, is a series of blisters on my finger tips from pulling mints.

    130º C boiling hot sugar will do that.

    But it was worth it.

    I suggests distilled spirits PZ. Scotch or bourbon.

  10. Janine, Vile Bitch says

    Yesterday, one brother in law slipped on the ice when he closed the trunk of his car. He broke his leg. How’s that for a Merry Christmas?

  11. Benny the Icepick says

    Here’s the solution: straighten out a paper clip, and use a match or a burner on the stove to get the tip red hot. Gently touch it to the center of the foot, which will basically melt away in a small spot. When you’ve just burned through, there will be a sudden spurt of blood that will sizzle a bit, but the pressure will be relieved. It will stop hurting and you probably won’t lose the foot, and the operation is completely painless.

    (stolen from http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/09/jeffrey_rowland_hurt_his_big_t.php )

  12. Tony Popple says

    Yet another example of tentacle envy!

    I have similar thoughts every time I climb the stairs with my arms loaded with bags. I have to put them down, pull out my keys, open the door and pick everything up again. It would so nice to have just one more pair of limbs.

    It also sucks that our means of locomotion can be derailed by something as simple as a stubbed toe. No wonder humans are such social creatures; alone we are just one small accident from not being able to feed or protect ourselves.

  13. jb says

    NPAT @ #14 – When we lived in Michigan for five years, we always looked forward to the Culling Seasons – Fall and Winter. In Fall, the deer hunters would either shoot each other or die of heart attacks from the unusual exertion. In Winter, middle aged and above snow shovelers would demonstrate which of them were fit enough to survive a heart attack.

    After a certain age, fuel is cheap at any price….

  14. Longtime Lurker says

    Rule number one, never wrestle with anything harder than oneself, especially if it’s all blade-y. Doubly so if the “canvas” is rock or asphalt.

    Now, maybe a cuddlesome leech could be used to reduce that swelling… would one be available in a bait and tackle shop?

    Barring that, putting the foot up and drinking copious amounts of brandy would probably be a good idea.

  15. varlo says

    At my age I am hoping that medical science soon develops the total body transplant, or at least a back-replacement technique (a sciatic nerve deadener would do as well) thus I can spare only a cupful of sympathy. A more desirable alternative might be a cupful of rum,a medication I expect to try myself within the hour. Whatever the case, take care ofd the ankle. You really need two working feet to kick the fundies around properly.

  16. Allen N says

    That sucks. I’ve dodgy knees, back, feet, so I know whereof you speak. Dinnae you any servants – or at least doc candidates to do your bidding? Any really intelligent designer would have given us wheels! My remedy is ice on the ankle and a bit of cold water in the single malt.

  17. Wowbagger says

    Sorry for a minor attempt at derailment, but on the Merry American Christmas thread Piltdown Man’s quoted Lenny Bruce in an attempt to defend the Catholic Church.

    I shit you not – it’s right here.

    Apologies, again – I just want to make sure people see this. I think he must have gotten into the Xmas sherry or something.

  18. Black Jack Shellac says

    Obviously retribution by a vengeful God. Take heart though, I also have wounded myself in the service of snow clearing operations, although for me it was wrenching my knee throwing a shovel load onto the terrifyingly large mound of December snow at the side of the drive. God help me if it continues like this (no doubt this God will also ignore my pleas). We are all doomed.

  19. Insightful Ape says

    Sorry professor…
    Our great great grandma Lucy the A. Afarensis should have thought of that when she started walking on her back legs. She had no foresight, it seems.

  20. says

    Ah, you should have specified that you’re descended from the Dunwich Myerses. Our representatives will be in touch regarding your rare book-borrowing privileges and our support services for any siblings with, um, special needs.

  21. Richard Healy says

    Ouch. Get better soon.

    I shall go back to administering my antibiotic eyedrops for the eyeinfection that had my writing in agony on christmas evening. misery loves company afterall. ;)

  22. Richard Healy says

    *EDIT* had a spell-check malfunction. (did I mention I can’t see straight?)

    That should read:

    Ouch. Get better soon.

    I shall go back to administering my antibiotic eye-drops for the eye infection that had me writhing in agony on christmas evening. Misery loves company after all. ;)

  23. Sparkomatic says


    Bonus points if you can score sympathy from the Trophy(tm)wife…

  24. Jimminy Christmas says

    For a moment when I first glanced at this I thought the picture was depicting a man smoking opium through an elaborate tentacle hookah. But, it all makes sense now. heh.

  25. Newfie says

    Chance? Or did Bill Donahue have you in his Christmas prayers?
    I’m gonna go with klutz. :)
    Lifting an IPA in your honour, PZed. Maybe a bourbon later. (yes, this Newf enjoys Kentucky Whiskey, or “corn squeezin’s”, as my friend in Texas likes to say.)
    /been using a snowblower since I was 10… yet to sustain injuries in the process… We get 16 feet of snowfall each year on average.

  26. says

    If you could swing that physiological set-up, PZ, it’d be a snap opening jars with crabs inside.

    Rev. @11,

    I suggests distilled spirits PZ. Scotch or bourbon

    And an excellent suggestion that is, though I’m sure I don’t know what this “Scotch” is supposed to be. Myself, I recommend whisky. Springbank if you can get it, failing that Bowmore. Or, if you prefer whiskey, Bushmills Malt. In fact I’ve just enjoyed a dram myself, and shall soon to bed. Bourbon? All right for washing greasy stains from one’s boots, I suppose, but wipe it off carefully thereafter lest it leave a sugary residue.

    Janine @13, re: your brother:

    ooh, that is very much teh suck. My sympathies and, AFAIAC, he gets two whiskies, if his painkillers don’t contraindicate.

    Wowb @26,

    quoted Lenny Bruce in an attempt to defend the Catholic Church

    Despise the popish cult as I do, I have to admit that their sheer audacity sometimes wins my admiration. This is one of those times. This is very nearly as good as the line one sometimes hears from Romanism’s apologists, that those saucy wee altar boys were just asking for it, tempting decent priests the way they did. Pity there’s no hell, because that sort of papist is just asking for it.

  27. Diego says

    Thanks, Patricia. This Christmas hasn’t been a barrel of monkeys, unless the monkeys were armed with bludgeons of course.

    I hope that PZ feels better soon as well.

    By the way PZ, among other downsides to the cephalopod lower half might be unsightly ink stains on the carpet. I imagine the trophy wife wouldn’t care for that. :)

  28. Cowcakes says

    I feel your pain PZ, I’ve been nursing an ankle myself for the last 5 weeks.

    It reminds me of what Dr Karl Kruszelnicki has said on numerous occasions about the human knee being proof against intelligent design due to its fragility and well poor design. He is the Julius Sumner Miller Fellow at the University of Sydney in Oz, i.e. he spends his time promoting science and appears frequently on radio and television and has published many books promoting science and debunking myths. He is also a very nice bloke.

  29. Seamyst says

    Ugh, I feel your pain. Literally. A month and a half ago I stepped wrong and fell – in Wal-Mart. Twisted my ankle but good.

    And in terms of holiday illness, I’m in the end stages of some sort of stomach bug, and my honey woke up with a sinus infection today.

  30. E.V. says

    Wow, you old geezers are falling apart.

    Excuse me while I open this bottle of Advil. The Wife got a WII Fit and I had to try it out.
    (I hope you’re better soon.)

  31. says

    An Ankle Story

    Doctor: Mr. Kellogg, when did you break your ankle?

    Me: Broke my what?

    Doctor: Your ankle.

    Me: When did I do that?

    Doctor: That’s what we’d like to know!

  32. Crudely Wrott says

    Lacking snow blowers in our youth, my brothers and I once moved all the snow from the driveway into one great pile. We burrowed down vertically from the apex, leveling off the boy-sized bore to exit the pile at ground level. At intervals, we dug side tunnels that exited at other points around the base. Five tunnels, if I recall.

    It then became possible to invent a game of Tag. It plunges headfirst down the top entrance and steers into a side tunnel by means of outstretched arms and body english. Other brothers had to guess which exit It had chosen and, by tagging him before he could gain his feet, earn the right to ascend the massif and take the terrifying plunge.

    Ok, that last is hyperbole, but, Hey! We were young and flexible and we could.

    Heal quickly, PZ. I second the earlier suggestion of ice and elevation. I would add soothing music and a cat purring nearby.

  33. Epinephrine says


    Bonus points if you can score sympathy from the Trophy(tm)wife…

    Recursive acronyms are a little weird. You end up with infinitely more compression and elevation than ice.

  34. Nick Gotts, OM says

    Bad luck! Hope your recovery is swift. My wife fractured a metatarsal stepping off a curb, and has also at separate times broken her jaw and fractured her pelvis in cycling accidents, while I, at 54, have never broken, or seriously sprained or twisted, anything. I know – I’m tempting fate. Yah, yah, yah, fate – come and get me if you think you’re hard enough!

  35. says

    Ugh, my sympathies, PZ. I sprained my ankle something fierce when I fell down the stairs. The joint swelled up to the size of a goose egg. I’d been taking the garbage out so I was surrounded by a pile of garbage, to add insult to injury.
    Don’t forget to heat occasionally between the icing, compression and elevation. It’s incredibly soothing.
    That still wasn’t as bad as when I fractured my pelvis…

  36. Crudely Wrott says

    Kids have been Darwined up here doing that.

    Nice rig, Newfie. I’ve often traveled roads maintained by these beasts. Glad we created them.

    My brothers and I were not Darwined by one of them by virtue of two important facts. The nearest one was at a Strategic Air Command base that was six miles away and we didn’t put the pile in the way, we put it out of the way. But it still melted.

  37. Nick Gotts, OM says

    I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes – I think this may be from the The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot – Mr Holmes and Dr Watson tripping out – XymbionicX

    Me too. According to Wikipedia the “devil’s foot” is mandrake, which contains hyoscyamine, an anticholinergic. These are “deliriants”, which can be fatal and usually produce unpleasant experiences, although they are occasionally used recreationally, and are also associated with witchcraft (belladonna, containing atropine) and both Siberian shamanism and the “berserker” phenomenon in Norse culture (fly agaric, containing scopolamine). Holmes was a user of both morphine and cocaine when Watson first met him (these were not illegal in the 19th century), but appears to have given them up fairly early during their association. In “The Man with the Twisted Lip” Watson finds Holmes in an opium den – having gone there to retrieve the husband of a friend of his wife’s – but Holmes is there in the course of an investigation, and has not indulged. He remains, of course, a heavy tobacco user, nicotine being a stimulant to his thinking when facing a difficult “two-pipe” problem.

  38. clinteas says

    It’s actually “RICE”


    Sorry to hear you hurt your ankle PZ,no weight-bearing for 2-3 days and then slowly and carefully after that !!

    I’ll take a check thanks :-)

  39. Alison Robin says

    After the operation, you should challenge Micheal Phelps to a swimming race. If he starts to gain on you, ink him.

  40. Frasque says

    Is it just me, or does the fellow in to picture look like Sherlock Holmes – Squidlock Holmes? – to anyone else?

  41. Sven DiMilo says

    Yes, it’s Holmes. From the artist’s site (click on the pic):
    (Inspired by Katri Kaligawa’s Evil Steampunk Holmes and Watson and this famous illustration by Sidney Paget…whose furious ghost is no doubt bearing down upon me, ready to bludgeon me to death with my own drawing tablet ;) )

  42. Jeanette Garcia says

    PZ, Sorry you have an ouch, ouch. I have arthritis in my F’n toe of all things and have been hobbling around. Thank the holy squid, for eggnog to see me through the holidays.

  43. Idahorulz says

    With that tentacle settup, you’d end up with a mouth at both ends. That may not work well as a biologist, but you’d fit right in as a lawyer!

  44. Jeanette says

    Feel better, PZ. You deserve a break and sometimes I can’t keep up with your blog, anyway; you work us so hard.

  45. Aquaria says

    Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow!

    I hate it when those things happen. I’ve had multiple sprains and twists of the ankle, but the topper was during phys ed when I landed on the ankle while performing handsprings. The front part. It would be like having your knee bent forward, rather than backward. That not only dislocated my tibia and fibula from the talus, but also caused deep hairline fractures in all three bones. The school caused the fractures to splint further because they thought all the care I needed was to “walk it off.” I am not kidding. Worst of all, tendon and muscle got “caught” between some of the bones when the staff made me get on my foot. I passed out from that. Childbirth was less painful.

  46. Longtime Lurker says

    are also associated with witchcraft (belladonna, containing atropine) and both Siberian shamanism and the “berserker” phenomenon in Norse culture (fly agaric, containing scopolamine)

    Too late to use as ammo in the War on Christmas, but it seems like those wacky mushrooms are responsible for another beloved icon (and I’m not talking about Smurfs):


  47. Leigh Williams says

    ELEVATION! Extremely critical to recovery. Let gravity help get those fluids out of the extremity.

    Learned this the hard way when I broke my leg near the ankle three years ago. I still do it now because of arthritis in both ankles.

    Seriously, pile up a bunch of pillows so that the legs are elevated when you’re in bed. It’s a little hard to get used to sleeping this way, but it’s essentially 7 hours of therapy.

    Ice is only useful in the period immediately after the injury. Heat is what you want now.

  48. says

    My mother-in-law probably will not stay overnight anymore to be here with her grandchildren (so daytrips from now on) because arthritis in the base of her spine is making it close to impossible to navigate stairs. Lifespans these days tend to exceed the average mileage and maintenance.

  49. Crudely Wrott says

    @Benny the Icepick, comment #15

    I learned about the “hot wire” treatment from an old carpenter. See, I’d managed to hit a fingertip with a hammer and within a few minutes blood was pooling beneath the nail and the dreaded pounding had begun.

    The old boy heated up a one-sixteenth-inch drill bit with a Zippo till the tip glowed. Then he touched it lightly to the nail and twisted to the right. Immediately there was a one-sixteenth-inch hole completely through the nail. The black blood spurted and there was blessed relief.

    Additionally, the hole served as a relief valve should the pressure build up again later. Simply insert straight pin.

    As time goes by, the hole grows closer to the edge of the nail. At some point it passes that threshold and is gone to wherever not-fingernail goes. Curiously, I have never been looking at just that particular moment.

    I wish I could remember that old boy’s name . . .

  50. Kemist says

    PZ, you need one of these babies.

    My dad has one with 42” rear snowblower attachment and is for some reason happy whenever we get snow. You can see him sitting inside in his pyjamas with a big smile pasted on his face like a little boy whose birthday came early.

    Sometimes he does the neighbors’ driveways for free.

  51. clinteas says

    Heat is what you want now.

    Ahem,absolutely not .

    Talk about snowblowers,what ever happened to the ol’ shovel?? Thats how we used to do it back home ! Over here the only application for them might be to blow the sand out of your backpack after a day on the beach….Sorry,lol,couldnt resist…:-)

  52. clinteas says


    Im watching a particular movie,and in that movie,a particular comedian interviews some evangelical,who tells the comedian that he believes that when he dies,he will be in heaven with god and jesus,and it will be wonderful.
    To which the comedian replies: “Then why dont you kill yourself?”

    LUV IT !

  53. DLC says

    Sorry to hear about the ankle, PZ.

    I don’t think I’d go with the tentacles, though. It’s hard enough for me to find pants that fit now, let alone pants with that many more legs!

  54. RickrOll says

    This always happens to might right foot, which is walked on the right ridge as it is, in addition to being half a size smaller than my left. Some design huh? ID’s piss me off. My nose is crooked, my hair is no longer blond, and my hands sometimes spasm weirdly- my nerves apparently suck- though this phenom is far from only the hands.

    God can kiss my malformed ass! I’m sure many can relate to the sentiment.

  55. Graculus says

    I have perfected a method of snowclearing that is both cheap and safe.

    “Hello, neighbour-urchin. Wanna make a few bucks?”

  56. Samantha Vimes says

    Is that from an illustrated Shadows Over Baker Street? (Sherlock-Lovecraft mythos crossover pastiches).

    Sorry about your ankle. It will mend with time, but you’ll want to elevate it fairly often. Icing might feel too cold; I had a recent twisted ankle myself, and found tepid water with Epsom salts worked well in a daily footbath.

    Cuttlefish– nice haiku.

  57. says

    So, this guy walks into a bar …

    Well, I’m hoping it cheers youse-all up — takes the mind offa the foot/ hip/ elbow/ painful portion of your ‘choice’.

  58. says

    PZed, ice for the ankle, ice for the whiskey. Pillows to elevate the foot, more whiskey to elevate the spirits. Put on a Marx Brothers movie or a “dirty little secret” favourite movie like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and slide away for a bit. Stare at the snow, think of your good fortunes with wife and children and this blog. Feel the totally unreal healing power of our best wishes radiating from nowhere to nowhere (smile) and reflect on the fact that you are not getting old, but aging like a fine wine or firm round of cheese. Call an old friend, play solitaire on the laptop, eat hot soup brought to you by someone who loves you, read a trashy novel, indulge in candy and bread with real butter spread thick and glistening in the light.

    Back to bed, last night was all nightmares. Will try my therapy routine I outlined above later, without bumming an extremity first. Fifty-four here in Charleston, SC, and up to 71 for today. Looks like time to take a walk on the beach.

    Ciao and best wishes to you and to all the Pharyngulity. Hope you have a Happy New Year and fare well.

  59. Shyster says

    PZ, sure it looks good on paper and sounds good in theory but the first thing you know someone will want to chop your “legs” off, coat them in a nice tempura and fry them in hot oil.
    Deal with the pain and get well soon.

  60. mandrake says

    somewhat OT –
    Hey, I know that picture! Argh, crashing subcultures!
    see Cox_and_co on livejournal and holmesslash on yahoogroups, definitely a subset of tentacle fans there. Also: “Smoke Hearts With Mechanical Parts”, tasty steampunk holmes. Warning: contains Victorian males doing Very Naughty Things together.

  61. Patricia, OM says

    JefferyD – You just had to say 71 degrees…sigh. We have ice falling from the sky, on top of the two feet of miserable damned snow that just won’t leave.

    Enjoy the beach for me too!

  62. Nick Gotts, OM says

    Blind Squirrel@69,
    Sorry, you’re right, there’s no scopolamine in fly agaric – muscimol and ibotenic acid are the main psychoactive ingredients (the latter is also quite toxic, although deaths from eating fly agaric are rare), and these work differently from the anticholinergics atropine and scopolamine, which are both found in belladonna.

    From the URL pointed to by Longtime Lurker@67, concerning fly agaric:
    “One of the active substances in the hallucinogenic mushroom is DMT.”
    This is wrong too. DMT is found in a range of plants, mostly South American, but not in fly agaric. It is a serotonin analogue; possession is illegal in the US, UK and many other countries. In Brazil it is often ingested in the form of ayahuasca, a drink made from a vine of the same name along with a DMT-containing plant. The vine provides monoamineoxidase inhibitors, without which DMT taken orally is broken down (by monoamineoxidase) before it has any psychoactive effect.

  63. khan says

    Last week I had a moment’s absent mindedness; stepped on the ice on the edge of the patio and did a half-gainer onto my wrist.
    (The judges awarded me an ‘8’.)

  64. itwasntme says

    I am relating to the trophy wife just now, listening to my limping husband mutter about how he wished he had a tentacle.

    Being married to an intelligent, creative and talented man is a kind of heaven. My spouse writes science fiction, so I know how endlessly wondrous it is.

  65. says

    Hiya E.V., thanks and missed you too.

    Patricia, what can I say? I moved here to avoid the ice and snow, not by evolution, but by design. (evil grin) Still, you did have a white xmas. We had to settle for drinks on the porch, eating grilled steak and watching the sun go down. Oh, back from the beach walk, thinking about going down to city to our piano bar and a walk this evening. Unfortunately, like to dress for the piano bar and that might be too warm for a walk, what to do, what to do. Will think of you.

    Ciao y’all

  66. says

    For what it’s worth, I hurt my back Wednesday hauling a 50-pound bag of cat litter into my house. I didn’t feel it until the next day, and then Friday I had the good sense to haul a 42-inch television into my house alone, too. To put it mildly, I hurt today.

    Get better soon, doc. You need two good feet with which to kick creationists in the seat.

  67. says

    So sorry about your ankle, PZ. Elevate it, put ice on it, and take ibuprofin for the swelling. I hope you get better soon.

    I wonder if the Holmes drawing was based on Sidney Paget’s drawings? Sure looks like it. Love the tentacles, too. :)

  68. Leigh Williams says

    Hey, JeffreyD! It’s so good to see you!

    I see lots of folks recommending ice. You can’t beat the trusty bag o’ peas for that.

    I just never found that it helped that much. My doctor reommended a course alternating icing with heat. If anybody around you sews, the best heating pad is created with a hand towel sewn up on all sides, filled with about two cups of rice. Heat that up in the microwave, and you’ve got a hot version of the bag o’ peas.

    Gawd, I hate being so old that I know these things.

  69. says

    Hiya Leigh and nice tip on the rice and towel setup. I may use that.

    It is not age you are using, it is experience, remember that.

    Back when I was an Army medic, right after we did the course on leeches and bloodletting, we were taught to use cold for the first 24 hours and then switch to gentle heat for sprains, not constant heat, but applications several times a day. A hot bath is good for the body if the foot is propped up, most of the time, on a warm towel. Plus, a hot bath makes many things better in general. Candles, a book, a libation, a hot bath – self pampering is nice.


  70. Nerd of Redhead says

    Sorry to hear about your ankle PZ. The Redhead has fragile ankles, subject to sprain with the slightest twist. I’m the gopher when it happens, so my sympathies lay elsewhere–I hope the trophy wife lives up to her moniker until you are back on your feet.

    My problem with snow blowing is my back. The latest soreness was due to the snow followed by rain (slush) which kept causing my snowblower to repeatedly die, requiring a manual restart, about 20 times. My AARP aged back did not appreciate the effort.

  71. IST says

    On the DMT/mushroom commentary: the only time I witnessed someone on DMT was at Bonnaroo, and they were flat on their back, gripping the grass with white knuckles, and sceaming hysterically… I was informed that it’s the equivalent of a 12 hour acid trip condensed into about 30 minutes. That destroyed any twinge of curiosity I might have had.

  72. hery says

    This is one of those times. This is very nearly as good as the line one sometimes hears from Romanism’s apologists.