Random Info

A Curious Wanderer is on Facebook!

Good morning everybody!

The Curious Wanderer is now on Facebook!

Life has gotten pretty hectic the past several months, and between writing a dissertation and now composing job application materials, I have very little time and effort left to past anything substantial here on this site.  (And when I do find some time to sit down an click “Add New Post,” the obnoxious voice of guilt screams in my head “You could be spending this time on your dissertation!  YOU SHOULD BE SPENDING THIS TIME ON YOUR DISSERTATION!”).

So, I decided to create a CW Facebook page.  It’ll be easier and and quicker to share shorter ideas, thoughts and links there.  Also, I think it’ll reach a different audience.  But, that doesn’t mean that I’ll be abandoning this blog.  I’m still going to post here as often as I can, but if you’d like to add some humanism, history, travelling, or love of food to your Facebook feed, head on over to facebook.com/acuriouswanderer and give the page a “Like”!  

See you there!


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Summer’s Over

Summer’s over and it feels weird because I’m not headed back to class.  In fact, it’s the first time since Kindergarten (so, the first time in 19 years) that I’m not heading back to school in the fall.  {side story: it’s really depressing when your little brother, who’s nine, asks you what grade you’re in, and you have to actually count the number of years you’ve been in school, only to tell him: Well, I’m going into the 20th grade!} Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t yet reached that glorious day when I’ve graduated for the last time, but I’ve finally reached that point in grad school that I’m done with coursework.  I passed my doctoral qualifying exams with distinction in Modern German History, Modern European History, and the History of Sexuality in the Western World (for a list of books on the subjects, along with book reviews, see my post, here) – and man, was that the most stressful year of my life.  I think that I’m only now recovering from the trauma of exams so that I can finally get my brain back into academic mode long enough to focus on the next big hurdle: my research year.

This summer was a busy one.  On the first of June, my partner took an awesome job offer, and we moved from Buffalo to Boston.  This city is the most fantastic place I’ve ever lived, even though we’re far away from family and friends.  I think it’s a historians dream city!  Then, I spent the last two weeks of June in Germany, participating in the German Historical Institute’s annual Summer Archival Seminar, a nationally competitive program that trains advanced graduate students of German historical studies how to read old German script and maneuver German research institutions.

July and August were spent settling into our new home, and reading, reading, reading.  I had a lot of work to do to get my dissertation proposal (or, “prospectus”) up to snuff.  So, I quit reading about the Holocaust and the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, and started digging through books and articles on social activism and the relationship between protestors and national governments.  My advisor told me I needed to find a way to answer the So What? question – why should anyone care about my topic?  So, I got to thinking:  We’ve seen a wave of protestors overthrow regimes in the Middle East recently in the Arab Spring, as well as networks of people try to check governmental authority by revealing to everyone some of our government’s darker secrets.  So, instead of just focusing on how activists have remembered, presented, and used history, my project will now study how governments have interacted with protestors and their representations of history.

In the first week of September, I flew back to Buffalo to defend my prospectus, tentatively titled:  Homosexuals after the Holocaust:  Gay Rights Activism and Identity Politics in West Germany & the United States, 1949-1990.  My dissertation will focus on how a variety of actors, including gay rights activists, professional historians, and state authorities in America and West Germany, formed transnational collective memories of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals through communicating on a transatlantic – and transnational – public sphere that developed in the atmosphere of the 1968 cultural revolutions.  The existence of simultaneous, competing narratives of the past highlights a central point of my dissertation, which is that the politics of memory is a form of the politics of power.  By studying how different actors remembered (or did not remember) the heritage of Nazi persecution to achieve a variety of ends, we may gain insights into the relationship between activism, political power, identity politics, and our understands of the past.

Defending my prospectus was the last hurdle to A.B.D status (“all but dissertation”), which means that I am no longer a Ph.D. student, but promoted to Ph.D. candidate (I checked and there’s no pay raise with that promotion).  All of that simply means that I’ve done everything to qualify for a Ph.D. except produce a dissertation (what a small detail).  That’s why I could move away from Buffalo and not have to go back to campus.  Classes started four weeks ago, and I’m still in Boston.  I took the last three weeks off to visit with family and have some fun, because next week my dissertation research officially begins.  I’ll be doing some work in the archives of Boston’s The History Project, an organization with the goal of documenting Boston’s LGBT history. And then, come November 1st, I’ll be on a plane, on my way to spend five months in Germany visiting archives in different cities.  In April 2014, I’ll return to the US and spend three more months visiting archives here.  Tack on another year, and hopefully by then, I’ll be Dr. History Nerd.

I really needed the break from Academia and, more specifically, my own project, that the last three weeks provided.  At the beginning of the month, my mom, brother, and grandparents (affectionally known as Mama’rn’em) came and spent a week with us in Boston.  That was an experience Boston will never forget, I’m sure.  Whereas I’ve had some years to get used to the whole “don’t talk to strangers in cities, they don’t care about you” thing, Mama, Nanny, and Papa are still in the Southern mindset of “let me hear your life story while we’re in the grocery store line.”  We did all of the touristy stuff, but we also had a few days of just staying home, laying around, and watching movies.  It was a good dose of family time.  The day after that, I flew to Buffalo and defended my prospectus.  The next day, I flew to Florida to spend a week on my dad’s ranch.  It was back to waking up before the sun rises, mowing grass, working cows, and fixing fences before crawling into bed and doing it again the next day.

Luckily, my next stop on the trip was San Francisco for my partner’s birthday.  We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, ate fresh seafood at the Fisherman’s Wharf, had $2 beers in the Castro, got free chocolate at Ghiradelli Square, and got carsick going up and down all of San Francisco’s hilly streets.  The rest of the week, we spent in Santa Clara, spent a day at the beach (it was my first time on the West Coast and seeing the Pacific), wine tasting in Napa Valley, and hanging out at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz.

And thankfully, I’d been hoarding all of my Delta frequent flier miles for years and years, so all of my trips this summer were free!  My grad student bank account was sure glad that I signed up for the flier miles all those years ago!

But now I’m back, and it feels great to be home, but summer’s over.  My partner’s back at work, and I’m back to reading works of history and sending a bajillion emails, prepping for my research year.  So, while I’m not on campus, I’m definitely not done with school yet…

I’ve neglected A Curious Wanderer the past month or so (part of being in grad school is this never-ending feeling of guilt associated with unproductivity when you do anything except school work), but I’ve got plans for it:

  • I’ll be traveling a lot in the next year, so I can get back to the site’s roots and do posts about the cities I’ll be working in.
  • I want to continue to post reviews of the books I read for my qualifying exams.  Hell, I spent a lot of time writing them, I might as well share them, right?
  • Now that I’m back home, I want to start cooking again, so I’ll share any good recipes that I come across.
  • One idea that I’m toying with (If I can bring myself to quit Facebooking in the morning with my coffee and spend that time writing):  As my family traded tall tales these past three weeks, I realized that, told the right way, my old family stories could be really entertaining for readers…I think.  So, I want to pick a few of my favorites and share them with y’all and see what you think.

But, I’ll never get to any of that, if I don’t quit blabbing and rambling now.  I’ve pushed my procrastination to its end, and I guess I’ve got to go be a productive member of society and interact with people.



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Summer’s Over by W.J. Newsome is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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Hodge Podge

I’m trying to avoid my scheduled reading for today for as long as possible (George Mosse’s Nationalism & Sexuality and Carl Schorske’s Fin-De-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture), so I scoured the interwebs and dug up these gems for you:

Some politics to start if off…

Department of Common Sense

Love Listening to Lies

Voltaire Quote

And some more Nerditude




Being a Geek

You are the Universe

Categories: Humor, Nerdgasm, Politics/Current Events, Random Info | Tags: | 2 Comments

What I’m Thankful For


Several of my friends, starting on the first of November, posted on Facebook one thing they are thankful for each day, and I didn’t do it, but I thought it was a good exercise in thinking about (or at least looking like you’re thinking about) what you’re thankful for.  So, I want to take a minute and list 22 of the things I’m thankful for, to make up for not doing it along the way.

I’m thankful (in no particular order):

  1. that I’m alive and kickin.
  2. that I’m healthy.
  3. that I finally have health insurance in case I ever become less healthy!
  4. for my apartment that’s warm, cozy, and feels like home.
  5. that I have enough free time to write a blog.
  6. for all of the technology I have that makes my life so much damn easier than it could be.
  7. that I have a family that stressed the importance of education to me and my brothers, and who didn’t leave going to college as an option.
  8. that I went to a small liberal arts college first before moving on to a big research institution.
  9. that I had professors that not only had faith in me, but made me enroll in harder classes, rewrite papers over and over again, and ask the harder questions – all to make me better at what I do.
  10. that I was confident enough to follow my passion (trying to understand humanity) as my career, even if it won’t come with a big paycheck.
  11. that I have a family who’s okay with that decision!
  12. that my hard work at Valdosta State University paid off and I was able to get a scholarship at SUNY Buffalo for my PhD (didn’t need any more student loans piling up!)
  13. that I always have enough to eat (which is good since I love food).
  14. for all the opportunities that I’ve had to travel to many different places.
  15. for all the memories that I’ve made in the past 25 years – the ones that make me chuckle to myself when I’m stressed out in the library.
  16. that I am a pack-rat and I keep way too much stuff, from scraps of paper, to random forks, to every single movie ticket stub, because then I can go through it all – like I did a few nights ago – and relive all of those memories!
  17. for the coffee I’m drinking as I’m sitting here.
  18. for the big, comfortable bed that I reluctantly got out of this morning.
  19. for all of my friends – in all of the different countries – who I’ve shared Thanksgiving with over the past several years.  They’re what makes not being able to go home okay :)
  20. for all of my friends – the ones I’ve had since second grade, and the ones that I’ve only made in the past two and a half years.  They keep me sane and keep me from losing all faith in humanity.
  21. that I found my partner and best friend, who I love, who loves me, and who makes me know that life is going to turn out great.  And I’m especially thankful that he puts up with my ornery ass.
  22. And most of all, I am thankful for my big, loud, and sometimes ridiculous family.  I’m thankful that while we may not be “traditional” in every respect, both sides of my family instilled in us traditional values: respect for ourselves and for others; compassion for those less fortunate and for those who live life differently than we do; a strong sense of responsibility to ourselves, others, and the community; humility tempered with a good dose of self-confidence to go through life, standing up for what’s right and helping to solve situations that are wrong; and most of all: love that acts as the foundation for everything else; it’s a love that sends you handwritten cards, just because; that makes you homemade meals when you come home; that sends you “candy money” even when you’re 25 years old; that worries about turning “your” bedroom into a guest room even seven years after you moved out; that mails boxes of goodies and a Christmas tree across the Atlantic Ocean to make sure that have “that Christmas feel” while you’re studying abroad; that drives 400 miles to watch your play, football game, or awards ceremony; that “likes” everything on Facebook, no matter what; that would rather support you as you pursue your dream 1,100 miles away instead of encouraging you to live closer to home.

So, that’s what I’m thankful for today, and every day.  I know that I got lucky to have all of these things, and that some people don’t get to experience them all.  But, I’m thankful that my family is so open and willing to share that ‘family feeling’ with everyone that comes our way (and I think we have more “honorary” grandchildren, cousins, children, and siblings in our family that we do actual blood relatives)!

So, I hope you all have a good day and enjoy spending it with whomever you’re with!  I’m about to head to the kitchen and do my part for a Turkey Day feast :D

Happy Thanksgiving, Yall!

Categories: Random Info | 2 Comments

“We read to know we are not alone.” – C.S. Lewis

Luckily my family instilled a love of reading in me at an early age.  Some of the oldest gifts I have from my grandparents are books.  And every time I move (which seems too often lately), it’s always the boxes and boxes of books that make people want to never help me move again.

From short stories, to Harry Potter, from Dr. Seuss to Dagmar Herzog, I just love to read.  And while I do enjoy seeing how authors craft the English language & how the literature itself is composed, let’s be honest – I’m in it for the stories.  For the feelings, for the entertainment, and maybe to learn something about the human condition, too.

Maybe that’s why I chose History as my life path (or History chose me?).  After all, that’s what History is:  passing on stories.  Of course, we mean to learn something (and teach something) through these stories, but narratives are nonetheless at the heart of our profession.

So, here are some pictures for all of my other book nerd friends out there!

memes making fun of Twilight: you can’t get enough of them

But now that I’m doing my reading year for my degree, this is more like how I feel:

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Misanthropic Asshole

I posted on Facebook earlier this week that I often have to struggle between being a compassionate, humanistic person on the one hand, and a misanthropic asshole on the other.

Studying history can provide inspiration to be both: you can look back and find examples of people helping each other in dire situations, and you breathe in deeply, feeling compelled to go and help make your world a better place.  But then you read another document and find out that it was another group of people who actually created that dire situation in the first place!  So, then you’re deflated and you just want to go punch a baby, or kick a small, cute fuzzy animal.

I guess it all depends on that damn metaphorical glass, and if it’s half full or empty.  Honestly, I’d rather just drink the whole thing and not wonder if it’s empty or full (especially if it’s a Jack & Coke).

This week, I’m definitely a misanthrope.  I want to go back to Georgia, find the middle of our 400 acre farm and never see another living soul.  Except when I had to go to the library for books.  Wait, there’s Amazon for that.  So no, I’d never have to see anyone again. Ever.

I just don’t see how people can be so damn self-centered and just plain-ass ignorant.  Everyday, I tell myself: Don’t be judgmental, don’t be egocentric, appreciate difference for they are the different fabrics that make up the human quilt, blah blah blah gag.  I do appreciate difference, but (un)fortunately, stupidity spans the human species, so I don’t have to respect or appreciate it as a cultural difference.

Everyday I go into the bathroom in the library (my second home), and see toilet paper and paper towels scattered all over the floor…even though there are two trash cans in the tiny room.  The urinals are never flushed, so I’m greeted with the odor of stale piss.  All of this…at a university library.  We’re not talking about a preschool here!  The people that are doing this are at least 18 years old.  Jesus, don’t they think about the people who will have to come in at the end of the day and pick up after them? It blows my mind.

And then, this morning, I was on the subway, heading to school, when the train couldn’t go any further because there was some type of technical difficulty.  The conductor eventually found out that something was wrong with one of the doors and it wouldn’t lock.  Therefore, as a safety precaution, the train wouldn’t go without all of the doors secured.  After spending about 10-15 minutes on the radio with headquarters, trying several different things, the conductor announced that there was nothing more he could do, and we had to wait for a technician to arrive.  You should have heard some of the responses that people yelled at the man.  “This is bullshit!”  “I’ve got to get to fucking work!”  One lady (and I use the term loosely) actually called the conductor an asshole.

I get it: it’s annoying, frustrating, throws the rest of your day off.  We all get it, people!  But getting mad at the conductor?  Calling him an asshole?  Really?  As if he sabotaged the train himself so that you wouldn’t get to work on time…as if he loves being yelled at, mocked, and ridiculed….as if he himself doesn’t find the whole damn ordeal aggravating as hell.

And don’t even get me started on how no one around here can take an extra 0.75-1.5 seconds out of their day to hold a door for another human being.  I’ve watched little shit-heads let a door slam in the face of another person whose arms were full of stuff.  It’s simply beyond my comprehension.

Are we really in such a hurry, engrossed in our own lives, Tweets, and iPod tunes, that we cant look up from updating our Facebook to have some genuine connection with other people instead of letting a pane of glass or slab of metal slam in their face?

So, after a 45 minute subway ride that should have only taken 12, I walked out of the station and got on a bus and headed to campus.  Side note: the delay usually would have put me in a bad mood, but it didn’t for some reason today.  Maybe it’s because it was a break from the monotony of daily life: wake up, read, write, sleep, repeat.  I kind of wanted the brakes to malfunction, leaving us hurtling towards the end of the line while the conductor and I (because my historical training would be so very useful) tried to find something to do in order to save all of the elderly women, veterans, priests, and orphans on board.  Oh yeah, and the family of cute baby animals on the last car.

I guess they live on the train…

But, what ended up happening was that the technician came, over-rode the security feature, thus allowing the train to continue even though the door wasn’t locked.  I was not quite as exciting, but we didn’t stop at any more stations, so maybe the people on the platforms, who were watching us going flying (again, I use the term loosely) past them, thought we didn’t have any brakes.  All the while, the supervisor was holding the door shut with sheer physical strength…aka, he was jamming it shut with his shoe.  Riveting stuff.  

Anyway, I got on my bus, trying to keep my mood from bottoming out, so I got into a conversation with the bus driver.  Believe it or not, we discussed German philosophy (she had just finished reading Kant’s Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime during breaks on her route), the Holocaust, and her ancestry.  Then she picked up on my accent and asked where I was from.  As it turns out, she lived near Eufaula, Alabama (Google that shit) for several years….Which is just 25 minutes from my home town (I’m from GEORGIA by the way – not from Alabama! Heaven forbid…)  So, we spent the rest of the time talking about Piggly Wiggly, pecan pie, mosquitos, chiggers, and fried catfish. It was nice, just talking to a stranger and finding out a little about them.  Made me think humanity might not be so bad after all.

Of course, we didn’t get around to the fried catfish until we were at the bus stop, so I stood outside the door as she held up the bus until we were finished talking. So, I’m sure there were some folks on the bus with their earpods crammed into their brain, wondering Why is she waiting to talk to this guy?!  What the hell is taking SO long (25 seconds)?!  Don’t they realize that I have class soon?  

But I didn’t care.  They can all take their half-empty glass and shove it.


Categories: Humor, Random Info | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Pics, Pics, Pics



The ultimate fast food showdown!


And in keeping with the TV show theme from my last post, I found this one. If you don't know which two shows these are, and you were a kid in the 90s, then shame on you!

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In China, Buick’s for the Chic

An interesting article from the NY Times last year that I just found while cleaning off my desk.  It shows the power of perspective; in other words, how perceptions of things change depending on where you were born, how you were raised, your life experiences, etc.  

Published: November 14, 2011

BEIJING — Cars in the United States tend to come fully equipped with stereotypes. Ford Crown Victoria: law enforcement professional. Toyota Prius: upscale yuppie environmentalist. Hummer: gas-guzzling egotist.

In China, where the market for imported passenger cars dates back only about three decades, an entirely alternate set of stereotypes is taking root — and the stakes have never been higher for foreign carmakers.

Take, for example, Mercedes-Benz, a brand that in much of the world suggests moneyed respectability. In China, many people think Mercedes-Benz is the domain of the retiree.

The Buick, long associated in the United States with drivers who have a soft spot for the early-bird special, is by contrast one of the hottest luxury cars in China.

But no vehicle in China has developed as ironclad a reputation as the Audi A6, the semiofficial choice of Chinese bureaucrats. From the country’s southern reaches to its northern capital, the A6’s slick frame and invariably tinted windows exude an aura of state privilege, authority and, to many ordinary citizens, a whiff of corruption.

“Audi is still the de facto car for government officials,” said Wang Zhi, a Beijing taxi driver who has been plying the capital’s gridlocked streets for 18 years. “It’s always best to yield to an Audi — you never know who you’re messing with, but chances are it’s someone self-important.”

With annual growth hovering above 30 percent in recent years, the Chinese auto market is rapidly surpassing the United States’ as the world’s most lucrative and strategically important. Last year alone, the Chinese bought an estimated 13.8 million passenger vehicles, handily topping the 11.6 million units sold in the United States. Foreign-origin brands, most of which are manufactured in China through joint ventures, accounted for 64 percent of total sales in 2010, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Even if Chinese brand associations can seem remote and perhaps amusing to those outside the country, Zhang Yu, managing director of Automotive Foresight, a Shanghai industry consultancy, says they will prove decisive to sales in coming decades. “China is already the largest automobile market in the world. No car company can afford to overlook its Chinese brand,” he said.

The lower rungs of the Chinese market are still dominated by domestic brands like Chery, whose name and numerous models suggest more than a passing resemblance to Chevy. The affluent, however, are flocking to an increasingly diverse array of foreign luxury offerings. The rapid market expansion has presented some foreign carmakers with a chance for brand reinvention, while posing public relations challenges to others.

“Because the market is so young, brand perceptions and a car’s face” — an idiom meaning prestige or repute — “are both critical,” said Mr. Zhang, pointing out that 80 percent of car purchases are made by first-time buyers.

Audi’s party technocrat associations are a result partly of the car’s early market entry and its longstanding place on the government’s coveted purchasing list. Audi, the German automaker, gained access to the Chinese market in 1988 when its owner, Volkswagen, struck a joint venture with Yiqi, a Chinese carmaker. By contrast, BMW’s first domestic factory opened in 2003, giving Audi 15 years to establish itself as the premier vehicle for China’s elite.

This early advantage has helped Audi to dominate China’s lucrative government-car market, with 20 percent of its China revenue in 2009 drawn directly from government sales. Each year, the Procurement Center of the Central People’s Government releases a list of the cars and models acceptable for government purchase. While the A6 has long been a mainstay on the list, which had 38 brands in 2010, BMW made the cut only in 2009.

“When people see government officials in BMWs, they automatically suspect corruption or malfeasance — but Audis are to be expected,” said Jessica Wu, a public relations professional with almost a decade of experience in the Chinese car industry. A basic model Audi A6 costs 355,000 renminbi, or $56,000, while the BMW 5 series Li costs about 428,000 renminbi, or $67,520.

Such market positioning has brought significant financial results for Audi — in 2010, the company sold 227,938 vehicles in China, more than double the number in the United States.

The Munich-based automaker BMW, on the other hand, has found itself in a contrary position. Since entering the Chinese market, BMW has acquired a reputation as a vehicle for the arrogant and the rash, making it largely off-limits to wealthy officials who prefer a low-key public image.

Part of this stereotype is rooted in a 2003 incident in which a young female driver in the northeastern city of Harbin intentionally ran over and killed an impoverished man who had accidentally dented her BMW X5. Despite the transparent nature of the case — a clear motive and numerous eyewitnesses — the case was settled out of court for $11,000. The incident was seen as driving a wedge between China’s rich and poor, damaging BMW’s nascent image.

More recently, a driver in a BMW M6 struck and killed a pedestrian in May during an illegal street race in the city of Nanjing, setting off a public outcry.

“If it hadn’t been a BMW, I don’t think it would have been as big of a deal,” said a young man who had taken part in the race and spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was awaiting trial. “Had it been all Toyotas, Mitsubishis or even Audis, I don’t think it would have provoked as dire a reaction.”

Despite such public relations travails, BMW has posted strong sales in China, selling 121,614 units in the first two quarters of 2011, or 27 percent of the company’s total sales during that period.

The American carmaker General Motors has found the Chinese market to be a life-saving opportunity for the reinvention of the Buick brand. Since 2005, when Bob Lutz, the vice chairman of G.M., famously declared Buick a “damaged brand,” America’s oldest surviving automobile make has successfully positioned itself in China as a top-tier luxury carmaker.

Largely the result of effective marketing and remodeling, China’s romance with the Buick also has historical roots. The last Chinese emperor, Pu Yi, was the proud owner of two Buicks, as was the country’s first provisional president, Dr. Sun Yat-sen. The black Buick 8 driven by a onetime premier, Zhou Enlai, is still displayed at his former residence in Shanghai, now a museum.

In 2010, Buick sold over 550,000 cars in China, more than triple its sales in the United States.

“We joke that our market revived Buick from the dead — it’s only partly a joke,” said Liu Wen, a reporter for China Auto News.

On Sina Weibo, the country’s most popular microblogging service, a recent posting tried to sum up the car clichés. “A gathering of Mercedes indicates a get-together for old folks,” the writer said. “A group of BMWs means young nouveaux riches are about to run someone over and have a party; several Audis, and you know it’s a government meeting.”


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Monkey See, Monkey Do

Seems pretty relevant, considering some political arguments I’ve been hearing…

Categories: Entertainment, Random Info | 1 Comment

the Spider Tree?

Someone shared this really amazing picture with me.  It really is a fantastic picture in its bizarreness.


“An unexpected side effect of the flooding in parts of Pakistan has been that millions of spiders climbed into the trees to escape the rising flood waters.  Because of the scale of the flooding and the fact that the water has taken so long to recede, many trees have become cocooned in spiders’ webs.  People in this part of Sindh have never seen this phenomenon before but, they also report that tere are now far fewer mosquitoes than they would expect, given the amount of stagnant, standing water that is around.  It is thought that the mosquitoes are getting caught in the spider webs, thus reducing the risk of malaria, which would be one blessing for the people of Sindh, who are facing so many other hardships after the flood.”

One act of nature causing the catastrophe (flood), but another act of nature (spiders) preventing another catastrophe (outbreak of malaria).  

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