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Lausanne has a vivarium dedicated to reptiles, mostly snakes and crocodiles, and a few scorpions and tarantulas. Usually, I’m not easily fascinated by animals behind glass windows. Or rather after going through the repetitive set of tasks of (i) finding the animal and (ii) scanning the text in the infobox for something noteworthy 20 times, I simply tend to get bored a bit, even if the skin has an amazing texture. But on this visit there were at least two things to keep me from getting bored.

First, every Thursday you can witness the feeding of the crocodiles.Crocodiles largely feed on carrion, so dead rats and dead fish was good enough for them. Snakes on the other hand are more picky and for them the dead animals first have to be heated up to body temperature and possibly even be moved around a bit. This, unfortunately, we couldn’t see. But seeing the crocos chew on the rats and also bite each other a bit is in  certain sense “fun”.

The second thing, which really made the visit worthwhile, were the stories by the keeper in charge of the animals. He was in his mid-twenties, with an “alternative” look and very long, partly dread-locked hair. He was simply “cool” referring to the sense of
“relaxed” of the word. He didn’t bother to put on any gloves to throw the dead rats to the crocos and he was also completely relaxed while telling us the story behind the big bandages on two of his fingers. He had recently been bitten by a highly venomous snake. For a second I thought that this was a joke, but it sure enough wasn’t. This had happened while he was removing an old skin, recently shed by one of the snakes. Personally, I have now idea why I would want to reach into a cage of a venomous snake for any reason, but then who am I to tell other people how to do their job. Anyways, he was bitten in the finger but, fortunately, the snaked did not inject a lot of venom. So he “only” lost one phalanx on one of his fingers due to local poisoning. Some skin had to be removed from another finger to aid with the healing process. He also showed us a book with lots of pictures of extremities of snake bite victims. I never knew how many shades of black the human skin can turn into. For a fairly mild teaser, have a look at the pictures towards the bottom on this page or this one.

Another interesting trivia, which he told us is that sometimes people even die of bites of non-venomous snakes as they simply think the snake was venomous and then die of a heart-attack due to excitement. Also, I learned that the coral snake is one of the most dangerous ones as its poison does not immediately lead to any swelling or irritation, but the effect only settles in after a few hours, when you’ll die in a short amount of time.

Anyways, through all the stories and the dry excitement they were told with the snakes suddenly seemed a lot more “alive” to me and seemed to leave their cage just ever so slightly, hence the title.

Oh, apart from the croco feeding and the near-death experience story it was interesting to see some strange looking tortoises such as this one or this one.

Until last Thursday, the last parking ticket I got was from the
Bostalsee (close to Saarbrücken). I simply forgot to pay. It would
have cost 2 Euros for the whole day, but even the parking ticket
was only an amazing 5 Euros (… and they paid 1,10 Euros to send it to me.)
But here in Switzerland, “the authorities” are not quite as lenient. While moving
some stuff to my new appartment, I parked my car outside our
building for about 20 minutes. I was not blocking any exit
or emergency access (but I admittedly parked on the
sidewalk where it was forbidden). 120 francs. About 70 Euros.
Welcome to Switzerland!

Anybody who knows me a bit better will have noticed that I have problems remembering certain things. Colors and cloths certainly fall in this category.

If you ask me, what color my room in Saarbrücken had (… where I spent 3 years …), well, I couldn’t quite say. A bright color, but nothing too striking (pink or so). Probably white or a light beige. (Don’t even bother asking, what color your room might have had …) Or if you ask me to tell you, what you were wearing the last time I saw you, well, again no idea. I would try to deduce it (if it was hot, then probably shorts/a skirt), but I would certainly not have a visual mental image. [Btw: I’m not color blind.]

Names can sometimes also be a problem. It happened to me before that I could have told you the whole story of someone’s life, but I could not remember his/her name. But I guess this is more common.

However, in other domains it can also be beneficial to have a bad memory. I just noticed this again the other day, when I was watching a movie for the second time (while riding my bike in my room). I really had no idea what was going to happen next. I only remembered a few scenes from the beginning and the very last scene. That was all. And it was actually a good movie. Das Leben ist eine Baustelle

Similarly, I’ve played a murder mystery for the second time … and still failed to identify the murderer. Here at least I understand why, as “who dunnit” does not matter as far as enjoying the game is concerned, and I’m always too absorbed in my own role.

During cheese commercials on TV they have to show here in Switzerland a warning along the lines: “Exercise regularly to stay healthy.” I guess it kind of makes sense.

But I think it would make even more sense to display a slogan during detergent commercials: “Doing the laundry is not a gender-specific job.” I’ve never seen a laundry commercial where the guy praises the latest revolution in cleaning power, while the woman has a relaxed breakfast.

You didn’t know that? Well, at least in Britain there can be no more TV commercials for cheese (and other products which are high in fat, salt or sugar) before 9:00pm. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4010481.stm)

This way the authorities want to avoid that kids, by watching cheese commercials, get hooked on that dangerous stuff. Of course, watching Wallace and Gromit is still fine. Go figure.

Some people already suggested, one should put a ban on TV commercials for breast milk, which is also very high in fat. Then the junk food industry would really take a hard blow. That should teach them a lesson.

I frequently have junk food for breakfast. Mostly milk chocolate (100 gr of Milka Alpenmilch). But now I’m seriously considering diversifying my food pattern to (more) regularly include other milk products, which are high in bacterial excrements.

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