Thursday, March 21, 2013

Colors, Cats, and the Curious

Goooood evening ladies and gents!

I've been in a very inquisitive mood this past week. Today I thought I'd share a two of the more interesting things I've learned. Although they have nothing to do with each other, here's some food for your noggin. Bon appetite!

It's been bothering me. You've probably seen or read it a dozen places lately. Check Pinterest, Wanelo, Twitter, Etsy, Ebay, and anywhere else. You'll find "ombre" products to be highly popular.

Ombre is like this:

Just Dwell


Diamond White Silver Bridal Flower, Wedding Hair Accessory, Peony Fascinator, Upcycled, Pearl Feather Wedding Hair Clip - "Ode to Joy"
So. Where does this crazy Spanish-sounding word come from and why can't we just call this new color trend a "blend" or a "fade"? It sounds silly. (I really like the visual effect though.) I know I sound like someone's grandmother complaining about how times are changing and how I hate them. I just don't like being surprised with odd words. So I thought learning its origins would make me feel better. Surely someone didn't just make this up last week, right? So I thought about it. My thoughts went like this: Ombre sounds like "hombre" which is Spanish for "man", which makes no sense. So, scratch that.

I went digging and, after reading about the old card game of the same name, finally came up with this from Webster's.
French, past participle of ombrer to shade, from Italian ombrare, from ombra shade, from Latin umbra. First Known Use: 1893
So there you have it. It still sounds funny, but the word actually has quite a history. Now the only mystery is why it has resurfaced in pop culture.
Parasites to make you brave.
Sooo, there's this parasite. It comes from cat poo, and it really makes things sound like cats might be taking over the world after all. Toxoplasma gondii, which lives in cats, makes it way to other animals from the cat's poo. It gets into your brain, but don't panic! because you can live with this parasite just fine. Many people don't really show many symptoms. They just suddenly like cats a whole lot better than before. They also might be braver.
This sounds nuts, yes? Parasite of Bravery!

But there have been studies on this parasite in rats. Check out this Time article for a good synopsis. Basically, the parasite raises dopamine levels in your system, which theoretically lowers your fears/inhibitions. In rats, this means the animals are less afraid of their natural predators, which makes them lunch. (Or breakfast, or dinner, or a present at your doorstep.) In people, the studies have suggested that you love cats more, but seem to be more inconclusive about the bravery thing. Also, there's a very small chance you might trigger schizophrenia by being infected. Weird, yes?

[Photo courtesy of a certain crazy cat lady I know and love.]

Hope I brightened your day ;)

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