CLOSE

Alter Egos

Some people think life at the floss is pretty glamorous, the journalistic equivalent of Indiana Jones' sexed up archaeology. My roommate told me the other day he likes to imagine that my internship is a lot like Charlie's Angels, which would make Jason the Bosley to my Sabrina Duncan (the smart, feisty one).

While I do occasionally wear a skimpy bikini and get in knife fights while writing my posts, my life has its boring, humdrum side, too. When I'm not bestowing the gift of trivia on you, dear reader, I work a day job assembling pre-packed meals at the local Whole Foods.

It's here in the humble grocery store kitchen that our story begins. The other day, I was vacuum sealing packages of crab cakes with a co-worker when conversation turned to what we do in the "real world." I told her about my budding writing career, and she informed me that she used to work in the White House as a policy writer for the Clinton administration. She left when Bush took office and decided to go to culinary school. Now she's our caterer and spends her day making crudité platters and making sure no one steals my apron when I go on my break. (A clean apron is more valuable than gold in the kitchen.)

This got me thinking. I know a lot of people who live a Clark Kent/Superman dual life. So I pose two questions: What's one fascinating thing about you that would shock your co-workers? OR Do you know anyone with an interesting alter ego?

Matt Soniak is our newest intern. (Well, he's tied.) You can learn lots more about him here, or read his own blog here.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
video
A Simple Trick For Figuring Out the Day of the Week For Any Given Date
iStock
iStock

People typically remember anniversaries in terms of dates and years, not days of the week. If you can’t remember whether you got married on a Saturday or Sunday, or don't know which day of the week you were born on, there’s a simple arithmetic-based math trick to help you figure out sans calendar, according to It's Okay To Be Smart host Joe Hanson.

Mathematician John Conway invented the so-called Doomsday Algorithm to calculate the day of the week for any date in history. It hinges on several sets of rules, including that a handful of certain dates always share the same day of the week, no matter what year it is. (Example: April 4, June 6, August 8, October 10, December 12, and the last day of February all fall on a Wednesday in 2018.) Using this day—called an “anchor day”—among other instructions, you can figure out, step by step, the very day of the week you’re searching for.

Learn more about the Doomsday Algorithm in the video below (and if it’s still stumping you, check out It’s OK to Be Smart’s handy cheat sheet here).

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
science
There May Be an Ancient Reason Why Your Dog Eats Poop
iStock
iStock

Dogs aren't known for their picky taste in food, but some pups go beyond the normal trash hunting and start rooting around in poop, whether it be their own or a friend's. Just why dogs exhibit this behavior is a scientific mystery. Only some dogs do it, and researchers aren't quite sure where the impulse comes from. But if your dog is a poop eater, it's nearly impossible to steer them away from their favorite feces.

A new study in the journal Veterinary Medicine and Science, spotted by The Washington Post, presents a new theory for what scientists call "canine conspecific coprophagy," or dogs eating dog poop.

In online surveys about domestic dogs' poop-eating habits completed by thousands of pet owners, the researchers found no link between eating poop and a dog's sex, house training, compulsive behavior, or the style of mothering they received as puppies. However, they did find one common link between the poop eaters. Most tended to eat only poop that was less than two days old. According to their data, 85 percent of poop-eaters only go for the fresh stuff.

That timeline is important because it tracks with the lifespan of parasites. And this led the researchers to the following hypothesis: that eating poop is a holdover behavior from domestic dogs' ancestors, who may have had a decent reason to tuck into their friends' poop.

Since their poop has a high chance of containing intestinal parasites, wolves poop far from their dens. But if a sick wolf doesn't quite make it out of the den in time, they might do their business too close to home. A healthier wolf might eat this poop, but the parasite eggs wouldn't have hatched within the first day or two of the feces being dropped. Thus, the healthy wolf would carry the risk of infection away from the den, depositing the eggs they had consumed away in their own, subsequent bowel movements at an appropriate distance before the eggs had the chance to hatch into larvae and transmit the parasite to the pack.

Domestic dogs may just be enacting this behavior instinctively—only for them, there isn't as much danger of them picking up a parasite at home. However, the theory isn't foolproof. The surveys also found that so-called "greedy eaters" were more likely to eat feces than dogs who aren't quite so intense about food. So yes, it could still be about a poop-loving palate.

But really, it's much more pleasant to think about the behavior as a parasite-protection measure than our best pals foraging for a delicious fecal snack. 

[h/t The Washington Post]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios