Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Eek, a mouse

We've all heard of lab rats, or lab mice... and it's common knowledge that rodents are used in laboratory testing for everything from sacharine, to cosmetics, to drugs and other medical research. They don't take up much room, they reproduce quickly, and their genetic, biological and behavior characteristics closely resemble those same characteristics in humans.   Over the years, there has been a lot of protesting about the testing done on rodents, but the bottom line is that - especially for medical research, it's necessary to do testing on something other than humans.

I'm sure none of this is news to any of you, and I suspect you're sitting there with a quizzical look on your face wondering if this is really the best that I can do.

Well never fear... because I have more!

In ancient times in Egypt, the mouse was considered to be protected by the sun, and capable of fending off death.  So a common remedy for a toothache was to apply half of the body of a dead mouse to the aching tooth, while the body was still warm.  Of course, I might have this wrong, because another source I found said that the thing to do was mash the dead mouse and mix it with spices, and then apply it to the tooth.  Either way, I have a number of issues with these remedies, beginning with the fact that obviously the mouse in question had NOT been capable of fending off death!

So let's head over to the early Roman Empire, around the year 50 A.D.  Pliny the Elder recommended kissing the fuzzy muzzle of a mouse as a cure for headaches.  Hmm.  I doubt that the mouse-kissing cured the problem... but I can certainly see how that cure would cut down on complaints about headaches.  (I just can't resist pointing out the opportunity for a whole slew of jokes along the lines of 'not tonight dear, I already kissed a mouse')  

Lest you think that only the ancients held these odd beliefs, let's take a peak at Elizabethan England (1558-1603).  The Elizabethans commonly ate fried mice, and baked mice in pies.  I suppose that makes sense, because there was such a surplus of rodents, but frankly, that practice would have quickly converted me to vegetarianism.  And yet, there's still more!  In addition to eating mice fried, or baked in pies, the Elizabethans used mice in a number of medical remedies.  Do you have a wart?  Cut a mouse in half and apply the cut end to the wart.  Does your child wet the bed?  Burn a mouse to cinders, mix it with jam, and feed it to the bedwetter.  Does your neighbor have tuberculosis?  Bring them some mice to cook.  

Let's finish up with some more modern information.  A mouse has a soft skull, which is why they seem to be able to fit through the tiniest of holes.  If you can fit a ballpoint pen into the opening, it's big enough for a mouse to crawl through.  Mice don't really care much for cheese, which is why it's more common these days to put peanut butter on the mousetrap.  But mice do like to be warm, which is why they seek out those ballpoint-pen-sized holes in the fall, in an effort to move into your home.

And then we get to the most important question of all.  Why is the computer accessory called a mouse? When the item was first invented in 1963, the team just called it a 'bug'.  When a patent application was submitted seven years later, the device was called an  'X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System'. Hmmm, I can see why that name never caught on.  So why a mouse?  Even the inventor can't remember, but I'm sure it had to do with the fact that the cord looked a bit like a mouse tail. And of course today, mice.. or mouses.. or whatever..  are often tail-less... I mean cordless.  Yet the name 'mouse' still sticks.

And there you have it, my friends... everything you wanted to know about a mouse...  from the ugh, to the eek, to the non-fuzzy thing you're resting your hand on right now.  

And now, for some tea.  Although I'm having tea by myself so it's not really a party, and unlike Alice's Wonderland, I have no dormouse.  It's just me, and my tea.

1 comment:

  1. It was very interesting information but yuk!