• Becca Dzombak

corona-tine dispatch 8: more things I've learned in quarantine


A disclaimer: I knew some of these things before, but re-learned their importance in

quarantine. Like how wine while you're cooking doesn't count, or that there are 2,600 calories in a box of Ghirardelli double chocolate brownies and it's okay to eat them for breakfast. And some information was new, like how slowly and surprisingly underwater snapping turtles mate. Read on for that juicy gossip!


- Staying at home during a pandemic is still not enough of a motivator to rotate the rug under the table that's all worn down and sort of grey on the edge by the kitchen. It tells a story this way. That story is "this rug did not move for three and a half years."

- It is also not enough of a motivator to rotate the mattress. Who does that? And why? It'll just get saggy eventually anyway. Why not let it mold itself to you body like a tired memory foam cocoon?

- It is also not enough of a motivator to read the back issues of The Atlantic that I keep relocating in the hopes that on the desk/on my nightstand/on the coffee table, I'll be more likely to pick one up. Instead, I've just been shuffling around with piles of increasingly dusty and outdated magazines while my partner looks on sadly and sees, in our future, piles of aspirational reading materials that I use as seating while I scroll through twitter.

- I have never used the defrost button on a microwave. Or almost any button other than the automatic 30-second and one-minute timers and, if I'm feeling risky, the popcorn button. Why would you microwave something for 10 minutes? It just feels wrong. Be like me and forget things on the counter, they defrost that way and it feels like it was quick because you left it sitting for five hours and now it might be growing other lifeforms, but it's not frozen anymore!

- I will keep using the same small, shitty pan that everything - including butter, somehow - instantly burns onto only because it is small and easier to clean without splashing nasty burned-egg-dishwater onto my pretty clean/only-worn-for-three-days shirt.

- If you're like me and somehow bad at consuming the foam on a cappuccino so that almost only foam is left at the bottom of your cup but you don't want to use a spoon because (a) you'd have to stand and (b) you'd have to wash a spoon, and you're with people you care about so you don't want to lizard-tongue-scoop it out and get a ring of milk around your face, you can BLOW ON IT TO MAKE IT MOVE. This blew (ha) my mind. Granted, it was like 8:45 a.m. so the bar for interpreting new information as mindblowing was pretty low, but still. Life tip.

- Caffeinated green tea seltzer exists and is only marginally more expensive than the store-brand seltzer we have been throwing money at for years. (Who can afford an actual La Croix habit? Let alone fancy Whole Foods-level brands? At this point, we should just get a soda stream, but (a) our kitchen is about six square feet and already taken over by assorted bread-making accoutrements, and I want room for the espresso machine on the counter, and (b) then we'd be people who own a soda stream. So instead we buy store-brand seltzer practically by the pallet and toss the cans down the eight (8) steps to our basement into now-overflowing bags, which is the only time I will every say "kobe" after launching any projectile from my hand. The situation is getting dire because Michigan cut off bottle and can returns, which is a good move because can you imagine? but we're betting on how much we'll get when we eventually can return them. I've got the under on forty dollars.) Anyway, you should check it out. (The green tea seltzer.)

- Even coronavirus-induced handwashing practices are not enough to keep me from forgetting that I've cut jalapeños and touching my eyes, hours later, after saying out loud as I cut them, "WASH YOUR HANDS, YOU IMBECILE."

- One smaller turtle can ride atop a biggish snapping turtle like a penguin adrift on an iceberg. Majestic and confusing.

- Snapping turtles (here it is!) mate very slowly and mostly underwater. I learned this starting with the bit of information immediately before this one, because that alerted us to the presence of a surprisingly large number of snapping turtles in this particular pond. (What do you call a group of turtles?* A clutch? A shelling? A snap?) We followed them around for a while and eventually, I noticed one that I thought was a rock because it was sort of listing sideways? But it moved, and we realized that there was another snapper attached to it, upside-down and underwater. We sat there watching the slowest nature mating ever** for, I don't know, 15 minutes? and in that time I did some furtive googling. Apparently females can also hold fertilized eggs from multiple partners, so turtle siblings from the same batch can have different dads. And there's a lot of biting in snapping turtle sex. Which, now that I type it out, isn't so surprising - it's in the name, no false advertisement there. So we watched for a while, then realized we were still watching snapping turtle sex and the sun was going down and it was starting to get weird, so we left.

- There is a kind of pasta called bucatini. It's about the size of spaghetti, but a little wider diameter and with a hole in the middle, and you can drink red wine through it like soda through a twizzler. (Probably white wine too - another experiment is required.)

- A pandemic-induced quarantine is enough to make northern Ohio interesting - but only once.

- Apparently, I care enough about brownies that I put "A box of Ghirardelli brownies has 2600 calories" on this list twice.

*I looked it up, and the answers are ridiculous: a "bale," a "dole," a "turn," or a "nest." I did not read further, that's an adventure for another day.

** Probably not, I imagine some animals are slower. Like a desert tortoise or a sloth.


About Me

I'm Becca Dzombak, a Ph.D. candidate and science writer at the University of Michigan. I study how Earth's life, atmosphere, and landscapes have changed over billions of years!

 

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