Worms wiggle. This can make it hard for fishermen to impale them on a hook. But in 1989, Loren Lukehart of Boise, Idaho offered a solution. He received a patent (No. 4,800,666) for a method of "dewiggling" earthworms.
His invention was essentially a rectangular box full of sand. From his patent:
To dewiggle a worm, the fisherman has to simply set the worm in the rectangular container on top of the sharp grained sand. During the worm's natural locomotion process, the sand becomes partially imbedded in the earthworm and causes an immediate reaction wherein the earthworm completely relaxes. The earthworm is then effectively dewiggled and ready to be impaled onto the fishing hook.
Once the sand coated earthworm is immersed in water, the sand rinses free and the earthworm resume its normal wiggly character.
The Environ Personal Retreat, sold by the Environ Corporation in the early 1980s, was designed to be a stress-free, self-improvement chamber. It offered programs such as "Relax and Affirm," "You and Food: New Scenarios," and "Self-Motivation for Winners." It came with a hefty price tag, $9000, but it was marketed at businesses, with the idea that they could de-stress and motivate their employees. Details from the LA Times - Nov 17, 1982:
The oval computerized enclosure is just big enough for one person, who enters through a sliding door and sits in an orthopedically designed body lounge equipped with oscillating massage, biofeedback pulse monitor and adjustable footrest.
Seated inside this exotic lounger, the user chooses one of 36 taped 20-minute human-potential programs, and the machine goes into action.
Ionized, filtered air is piped in, along with a pleasing natural scent. And while the taped verbal and music program plays, colored lights change in time with the text. If the user is listening to a business talk on self-motivation, for example, the capsule is bathed in stimulating orange and red lights. On the other hand, if the program deals with relaxation or stress reduction, the lighting is in soothing hues of green and blue.
With its two legs the Animan TV follows you from room to room, dances to commercials, and even leans into the curves during chase scenes. Equipped with its top-mounted security camera, it patrols the house and sounds an alarm if it detects a prowler.
In 1989, a Canadian company tried to promote the idea of burying people at golf courses. They imagined that courses could add memorial walls made out of their patented "mod-urns" — hollow, cremain-filled building blocks that could be snapped together to make instant memorial walls.
A company rep argued that this could be "a potentially lucrative business for golf courses, who could pack in up to 50,000 new 'members' per acre."
To the Editor: A recent case seen in an emergency department of a large urban hospital may have finally settled the tormenting and age-old question concerning the best method of removing Periplaneta americana, the common cockroach, from the ear canal. Numerous methods have been described in the medical literature, the most popular of which appears to be placement of mineral oil in the canal and subsequent manual removal of the creature. More recently, lidocaine spray has been suggested as a more effective approach to this problem.
A patient recently presented with a cockroach in both ears. The history was otherwise noncontributory. We recognized immediately that fate had granted us the opportunity for an elegant comparative therapeutic trial. Having visions of a medical breakthrough assuredly worthy of subsequent publication in the Journal, we placed the time-tested mineral oil in one ear canal. The cockroach succumbed after a valiant but futile struggle, but its removal required much dexterity on the part of the house officer. In the opposite ear we sprayed 2 per cent lidocaine solution. The response was immediate; the roach exited the canal at a convulsive rate of speed and attempted to escape across the floor. A fleet-footed intern promptly applied an equally time-tested remedy and killed the creature using the simple crush method.
However humble the method, and despite our small study population, we think we have provided further evidence justifying the use of lidocaine for the treatment of a problem that has bugged mankind throughout recorded history.
K. O'Toole, M.D.
P.M. Paris, M.D.
R.D. Stewart, M.D.
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
To the Editor: The excitement was unbearable. "There's a girl with a bug in her ear!" the nurse had exclaimed. "Looks like a cockroach to me!" It was all we could do to keep from running to the patient's bedside. "Grab the lidocaine!" we shouted. This was the moment we had been waiting for. We had seen the reports, but did it really work?
As we burst into the room, we could see the young woman writhing from the combined sensations of movement and pain in her ear canal. One of us tok a look, confirming the nurse's diagnosis, while the other filled a 3-cc syringe with 2 percent lidocaine solution. With hurried anticipation we sprayed the drug briskly into the ear canal and quickly jumped back, fully expecting the beast to come hurtling forth at first contact with the noxious substance.
Nothing. "Increase the dosage," we shouted, filling a 10-cc syring. Still nothing. "Get that sucker outa my ear!" the patient screamed. What a brilliant idea! We grabbed a 2-mm metal suction tip and attached it to a wall suction apparatus with a negative pressure of 120 cm of water. Then we gently passed the tip into the ear canal, taking care not to occlude the canal and risk tympanic-membrane barotrauma. Shloop! "Got him!" we exulted. Sure enough, there he was, plastered to the suction tip like a fly to flypaper. After a repeat examination of the canal and a few drops of Cortisporin solution, the patient was on her way.
We recommend suction as a safe and efficacious method for removing insects from the ear canal when other methods fail.
Jonathan Warren, M.D.
Leo C. Rotell, M.D.
State University of New York
Health Science Center
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.