Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Lube Them Cubes

From Trousering Your Weasel
Before I'd even gotten out of bed, I'd been sent the link to the latest wombat poop article, twice. As might be expected, dozens more followed throughout the day, although there is really no point in counting after number two. My friends believe I can squeeze a blog post out of something like this easily, with the only problem being where to snap it off.

But I had already written just about as much as a person should about the subject in my groundbreaking scientific opus, Trousering Your Weasel,* or so I thought. Short of fresh insight into the subject of wombats and their square poop, I didn't think there was anything left to clean up. But new research has emerged in the field of Biological Fluid Dynamics.

Photo by Bobbie Irwin, my very sister
Among other discoveries, it was found that in the final eight percent of the wombattal intestine, the contents change from a liquid-like state to a solid state. This is the primary difference between wombats and cows or mashed-potato extruders, for both of which the material sets up extra corpus. I myself have noticed quite a bit of variability in the state of my contents even over the course of a typical morning, with the solid state prevailing at first, and becoming more enthusiastic later on.

The scientists in question, including a Dr. Hu, from the University of First Base, examined the alimentary canals of wombatroids by emptying the intestine and inserting and inflating a long balloon. The breakthrough occurred when they began utilizing deceased wombats that could be reliably pinned down; previous attempts proved vexing when the wombats under study kept flying around the room backwards. There simply aren't enough graduate students in the world for that.

The balloon experiment showed that the intestine itself has varying elasticity and the contents are constrained at the corners, producing a cuboid like dimensional lumber, but no explanation was given for how the turds were expelled without the tapering action most of us find comfortable. It was assumed, by me, that the process resembles the calving of a glacier, writ small and brown, with the chunks falling where they may.

But such was not the case. In fact, the cubes themselves are completely formed inside the wombat, due to a process that remains mysterious, and the animal then tumbles out dice at the rate of about a hundred per day.

Photo by Bobbie Irwin, my very sister
Prevailing theories held that wombats poop cubes to mark their territories, which is true only so far as the presence of wombat poop is reasonable evidence for the existence of a wombat in that particular territory. "We're in wombat territory," a field biologist might thus note, without being able to conclude that she is not also inside an overlapping potoroo perimeter, or perhaps in the proximity of a platypus.

A sensible explanation for the compaction of the cubes is that wombats are conserving all the water they can, and if you really, really, really need water you can press it out of your poop. (We have some relevant experience here with our two cats, one of whom produced turds so dry you could pick them up with your fingers and not even bother to wash afterwards, unless it was real close to dinner and the Queen was coming. The other produces mostly moist marvels, and in a tremendous stroke of good fortune, she is the one who always uses the litter box.)

So the wombat squares off its dookie by compressing it inside intestinal walls that have a certain amount of "give" in some places and not others. Specifically, the intestinal wall has azimuthally varying elastic properties, it says here in the abstract, and bully for the wombat, because anything worth doing is worth doing azimuthally, as I sometimes say.

There is no grant money for research you can't eventually wring a profit out of, so the scientists suggest that wombat pooping might illuminate a new method of manufacturing cubes, using soft tissues. Whose soft tissues has not been addressed, so don't sign anything without reading it first.

* Trousering Your Weasel is still available, signed by the author, and makes the world's best Christmas present for the money, which is a ridiculously low $13. What was I thinking?


32 comments:

  1. Murr... and I mean this sincerely.... No one can talk shit the way you do!

    I must say, though, that I cringed when imagining square human poop; sometimes tubular poop can be quite enough effort for one morning. I still have trouble imagining -- even at my age -- that an entire baby can come out of a woman's vagina. (Definitely a factor in why I never had kids.)

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    1. At least they don't come out square.

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    2. Although a certain young-'un of my acquaintance did come out quite the blockhead. I believe he was eased out a side exit.

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    1. You mean the square babies? But they'd stay put so much better.

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  3. The reason I didn't pass this little nugget down your Information Highway? I figured your email box would be jammed with wombat whoopsies. Figuratively speaking.

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  4. Now I'm wondering if, as poop happens, the wombats yell, "Seven come eleven!", or start humming a Rolling stones song. And brilliant use of 'azimuthally'. That's like a 46 point Scrabble word, no doubt. What did make me laugh out loud was, '...although there is really no point in counting after number two.' You are hilarious. And I love my copy of Trousering Your Weasel.

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    1. I'm glad! But sorry to disappoint--"azimuthally varying elastic properties" is lifted directly from the abstract.

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    2. Oh, I started laughing at Doctor Hu, from the University of First Base. Such a shame he didn't have a colleague Doctor Watt, from a nearby University.

      If I hadn't already given away all my cross-stitching paraphernalia, I'd be starting a sampler with this: "anything worth doing is worth doing azimuthally". Maybe I'll load up my embroidery machine instead....

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    3. Cross-stitch. I remember thinking I wanted a cross-stitched plaque for my cabin that says "Welcome to the cabin. No inaudible farting."

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  5. Help! I'm trying to buy 2 copies of your book but the link doesn't work. Getting frustrated. Help!

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    1. I'm at pootie@spiretech.com, and I'm sure we can work something out that way, even if it involves a checkbook!

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  6. Publish, okay, but will can you fix it?

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    1. Notify, OK, whereby it when as soon as.

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    2. I have no idea what is going on. In fact, that is my default statement for the ages, from now on. I am completely cracked up here. Whimsy2, I have heard from other people for whom the link works, so it might be on your end, and am I EVER the person who knows how this works? I am not. But email me and we'll figger it out. Susan, I am snotting myself.

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    3. You might want to borrow the impressive term that Sunny Baudelaire (the baby in the group of three siblings, subject to a Series of Unfortunate Events) uses in one of the Lemony Snicket Books.
      “Pietrisycamollaviadelrechiotemexity," Sunny said
      (The state of not having the faintest idea what is going on.) Pronounced (in the audiobook to which I listened) -- pi-ET-rih-sick-a-MAH-la-vee-a-del-RECK-ee-oh-teh-MEX-i-tee
      You're welcome.

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  7. So the wombats are pooping pre-made adobe but haven't yet realised they can use them to build walls to mark off their territory?
    My entire family enjoyed Trousering Your Weasel.

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    1. I love your entire family. I'm inviting them for Thanksgiving. Oops! Too late!

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  8. Nature's cooler than anything anyone could make up!

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  9. Fascinating about the way a wombat defecates. The poop squares sort of resemble charcoal briquettes.

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  10. Well, I don't want to see wombats commercialised and sent abroad to build walls, but may there something in the US of A that's full of manure and wants a wall...

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    1. I just saw the greatest cartoon. The border between Mexico and the USA, with a wall coming right up to the border but perpendicular. Well, maybe it has to be seen.

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  11. "There simply aren't enough graduate students in the world for that." *SNORT*

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  12. I need to write myself a reminder to re-read this when shit-faced. I already laughed myself silly and I want to do it again, only sillier.

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