Sunday, 15 May 2011

Hallucinate with the mosquitoes from Mars

First, an hallucinogenic webpage called Neave Strobe courtesy of Pauline. Click on "click me to get trippy", stare at the centre of the screen and then look away. The effect lasts for 10-15 seconds. Click on the screen to return to the menu.

Having had my first mosquito bites a few days ago - ironically enough while spraying plants with insecticide, they seem to have quietened down for the moment. Strangely, over the last couple of years, they did not seem to be significantly worse in the house than in the 3rd/4th floor flat in Warsaw. However, they could be a major torment on warm evenings in the garden. (Picture from Wikipedia.)

OK, we've got (actually, I must check) deterrent chemicals, but one tends not to think of using them when just stepping out of the house into the garden. They aren't perfect anyway. In any case, when I'm working in the garden, there seems to be a specific moment in the evening when amiable conditions make them all wakeup and suddenly decide to have my blood for supper. Yummy!

The bite is an irritant, but the main problem is scratching them, which makes the whole experience far worse. The good news is that you can train yourself not to scratch. It's an automatic reaction and probably inevitable for the first few, but rub with the soft part of your finger rather than the nail. As further bites come along, it's fist clenching time as you control your urge to scratch/rub. It's a bit like trying to give up smoking, but after 20 to 30 bites you start to adjust and after 50 or so you should be largely able to ignore them. (Maybe double those numbers, I don't know really.) It doesn't stop me from regularly waving my arms about and slapping parts of my body, but the exercise is probably good for me anyway.

We were once told about mosquitoes and the ignorance of Polish peasants by a consultant friend of ours. He had worked on an EU pre-accession training programme to persuade them to stop using DDT. The trainers explained the dangers of DDT and told them about the new chemicals that were equally able to protect their crops, were not more expensive and were readily available. However, the farmers were so stupid that they continued to use DDT - just because the alternatives did not get rid of mosquitoes. There were some nods of sympathy around the table, but I was still itching from the 32 bites I had received at a barbecue in the field of a small farm. The old man who owned the place was very proud of not having used DDT or any other dangerous chemicals. The problem was not the farmers, but the people who designed the programme. They had produced a training programme to meet EU objectives, but had completely failed to consider the needs of the farmers. The new chemicals were ineffective and the farmers could quite reasonably feel they had been lied to. Why take any account of what liars say? My itching irritated sympathy was very much with the farmers. The programme had failed because of stupidity, but this was in Brussels, not in Poland. (EU training programmes never actually fail, however.) The consultant took this a bit personally for some reason. Sorry, but it was the mosquitoes' fault.

Whilst on the topic of things that bite, or at least bark: Kazik Staszewski, who I consider to be Poland's greatest (only?) international quality, popular music artist. I've translated his 'Mars napada', but need to finalise it. Here's a preview: his video - the first 15 seconds are silent, so no need to adjust your set.

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