Blog Posts by Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)

  • Whiskerslist is like Craigslist, but for Cats

    This cat could use your helpThis cat could use your helpWhere do cats go to buy used yarn or to find those missed connections from the vet's office? The feline version of Craigslist, of course.

    The humorous website Whiskerslist combines two of the Internet's favorite things - cats and Craigslist - and is the invention of cat blogger Angie Bailey.

    Whiskerslist provides cat lovers with a window into what Web-savvy cats might do if they got their paws on the computer mouse.

    Also see: 10 cats made famous by YouTube

    The site has numerous classifieds on such subjects as "housing: boxes and bags" and "personals: neutered seeking spayed."

    The full collection of 160 kitty classifieds is available in Bailey's new book, "Whiskerslist, the Kitty Classifieds."

    Classifieds include tales of felines like Hector, a lovelorn tabby looking for love, as well as discussions on rodent regifting and an online support group for recovering show cats. Check out some of our favorite Whiskerslist posts.

    Related stories:

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  • Who Invented Guacamole?

    GuacamoleGuacamoleThere may be no more perfect food than the avocado, at once utterly decadent but decidedly healthy; an opinion backed by the fact that 1.6 billion avocados were consumed in the United States in 2012.

    During the Super Bowl alone, 12 million pounds of avocados were transformed into guacamole; Cinco de Mayo and Independence Day see even more of the chunky green dip being devoured. We have become a nation of guacamole lovers.

    Most of us first experienced guacamole in the context of Mexican food; but where did it actually originate?

    Appropriately enough, Mexico. We can thank the Aztecs, the native American people who dominated central Mexico from the 14th to 16th centuries. Although dog, grasshopper, and worms were food staples in Aztec culture, they also indulged in things more culturally palatable to us, namely chocolate and guacamole.

    Also see: How to make a guacamole grilled cheese sandwich

    The avocado (Persea americana) - savory like a vegetable, but botanically a fruit - dates to

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  • Scientists: Drawing Comfort Food Will Make You Happy

    A cupcake drawing can male you feel betterA cupcake drawing can male you feel betterStudies have shown that comfort foods fight off the blues and have a significant positive effect on people's moods. But unfortunately, the comfort they provide usually comes courtesy of fat and/or sugar, which most people would benefit by reducing in their diets.

    But scientists may have found a workaround in getting the positive effects of comfort food without the calories.

    During a period of three months late last year, researchers recruited 61 students from St. Bonaventure University in New York state. Most were slightly overweight according to measurements of body-mass index (BMI).

    The subjects were divided into four groups; each group was asked to draw a different item: high-fat, high-sugar cupcakes; high-fat, low-sugar pizza; low-fat, high-sugar strawberries; and low-fat, low-sugar peppers. All were given the same colors to use.

    The researchers then analyzed the participants' hunger, mood and level of interest and excitement before and after the brief drawing exercise.

    Drawing pizzas

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  • Dogs Donate Blood to Save Other Dogs' Lives

    Dogs have even donated blood to save the lives of catsDogs have even donated blood to save the lives of catsDog blood banks are much like people blood banks. Donors are screened, the blood is typed, and sometimes there's a shortage.

    The U.S. is facing a dog blood shortage right now, which veterinarian Jean Dodds, who runs the Hemopet canine blood bank in Garden Grove, Calif., says is normal for this time of year.

    "It happens nearly every holiday season and in summertime when epidemics of parvovirus occur," she told NPR.

    The highly contagious parvovirus attacks a dog's cells, and blood transfusions are often necessary. Most of the time, dogs require donated blood for the same reasons people do: car accidents, anemia or because they're undergoing surgery.

    While there's no centralized canine blood bank for dogs, there are several independent blood banks located throughout the country, and veterinary schools often do their own blood banking.

    Dodds helped start some of the first canine blood banks. She worked with animals with diseases like hemophilia, and during the early 1980s she ran New

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  • Paranoid in Pink: 1970s Bunker-Dwelling in Las Vegas for Sale

    The underground pink kitchenThe underground pink kitchen

    by Matt Hickman, Mother Nature Network

    Are you bemoaning that summer and all the backyard-centric activities associated with it -- barbecuing, swimming, unwinding in a hot tub, romping around on the grass, throwing a rowdy al fresco dance parties under a starlit sky -- is soon coming to an end? Well, start saving -- and stockpiling dry goods -- as a Las Vegas property where you can partake in all of your favorite backyard leisure activities year-round, rain or shine, has reappeared on the market with a just-reduced price tag of $1.6 million.

    Oh, and also, the two-bedroom ranch-style property, complete with detached one-bedroom guest quarters and a heated in-ground pool, is located 26 feet underground within a 15,200-square-foot basement that was built in the late 1970s as a Cold War-era bunker.

    So there's that.

    Because really, if you're going to be holed up in a concrete-reinforced subterranean lair during a nuclear fallout - or zombie apocalypse, alien invasion, viral

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  • Scientists Create Dog Remote Control

    Who is making this dog run?Who is making this dog run?One day, lazy dog owners may be able to command their canines to walk themselves or perform a variety of other tasks all by remote control.

    Researchers at Auburn University's Department of Mechanical Engineering have created a special suit for dogs that comes equipped with a microprocessor, wireless radio and GPS receiver.

    According to Science Daily, the device allows a handler to "provide autonomous guidance of the canine using an embedded command module with vibration and tone generation capabilities."

    Jeff Miller and David Bevly describe details of the project in the forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control, noting that their tests show obedience accuracy up to almost 98 percent.

    Also see: 5 surprising facts about service dogs

    However, researchers aren't developing the technology just to make life a little easier for people too lazy to walk their dogs.

    There are a variety of life-saving situations where the technology

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  • 7 of the Strangest Things You Can Buy Online

    Canned unicorn meatCanned unicorn meatBetter hurry! There's no better time to stock up on UFO detectors … or a tank.

    Amazon.com may be best known for peddling a vast selection of books, music, consumer electronics, toys and clothing, but those who dig deeper will be rewarded with a treasure trove of weird and wacky wares for the home, garden and beyond. Here's a look at nine particularly offbeat Amazon.com items available from verified third-party sellers. (In many cases, the customer comments, not the products themselves, are the main attraction.)

    A gallon of milk
    Average rating: 4 stars
    According to a recent study, purchasing comestibles online via a grocery delivery service such as Peapod or FreshDirect is actually greener than making a solo trip to the supermarket. So what about buying a gallon of whole milk on Amazon.com? The jury is still out on that one although this notorious listing boasts some hilarious, ludicrous and, at times, strangely poetic user reviews (there are more than 1,450 of them). For instance:

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  • Can Popping Pimples Kill You?

    surprised girlHow afraid should she be?Sound like a crazy question? Turns out, it's not so crazy. If you've ever been a teenager (and I'll go out on a limb and say that most of you were), you're all too familiar with the following scenario: You start to notice a bump forming just above your lip. Or maybe it's on your chin. Or your nose. Then you start to feel a pus-filled whitehead forming and you can't wait to get to a mirror (let's hope at home) to pop that sucker. Chances are that you've popped a pimple or two in your day, but dermatologists say you should resist the urge. That's because popping pimples can leave you with scars, or worse, an infection. When you pop a pimple, you're actually tearing open your skin in the process. You're also introducing bacteria from your hands into the open wound, which can become infected, leave a permanent scar, or make you very ill. In fact, there's something called "the triangle of death" on your face -- so called because getting an infection in this area can cause you to die. How

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  • Every Single Minute of Physical Activity Helps, Says Optimistic New Study

    guy runningIf he runs for just one more minute...The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate to higher-intensity physical activity each week, and it should be in bursts of at least 10 minutes each for substantial health benefits.

    Which has led many to wonder about the inefficacy of brief activities. Why take two minutes going up the stairs if more than 10 minutes is required to make it worthwhile for health?

    But now a new study suggests something else: go ahead, take the stairs! Every minute counts toward reaching the 150-minute goal, whether it's part of a 10-minute bout or not.

    Also see: 5 ways walking is better than running

    The purpose of the study conducted at the University of Utah was to see if moderate to vigorous physical activity in less than 10-minute episodes related to weight outcomes.

    The study, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, found that each minute spent engaging in some kind of moderate to vigorous physical activity -- be it

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  • Cats at Sea: 7 Famous Seafaring Felines

    Blackie the cat meets Churchill aboard her homestead, the HMS Prince of Wales.Blackie the cat meets Churchill aboard her homestead, the HMS Prince of Wales.When one thinks of service animals, dogs and their inherent affinity for work come to mind. Cats in this capacity? Not so much. Cats may be hell-bent on languidly lounging in the sun, but seldom seem eager to lend a paw.

    The long history of cats serving on ships counters the stereotype. Ship's cats have been employed on trading, exploration, and naval ships going back to ancient times when Egyptians took cats on Nile boats to catch [skipwords]birds[/skipwords] in riverbank thickets. When cats were brought aboard trading ships, the species began to spread throughout the world. Phoenician cargo ships are thought to have brought the first domesticated cats to Europe around 900 BC.

    Eventually their main job at sea was in the position of pest control; rats and mice onboard are a serious threat to ropes, woodwork, food, and grain cargo - not to mention the critters' roles as carriers of disease. Cats also offered companionship to sailors. There's a reason animals are used for therapy, a

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