CLOSE
iStock
iStock

7 Less-than-Romantic Valentine's Day Promotions

iStock
iStock

You can't buy love, but on Valentine's Day marketers want you to try. And they're offering bizarre, if not terrible, deals to entice you. But trust us. Recipients of these gifts might say, "You shouldn't have" .... and mean it.

1. A COCKROACH NAMESAKE

Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Got a love that endures? One that can't be squashed? One that might skeeve out others? Then the Bronx Zoo suggests you name one of its 58,000 Madagascar hissing roaches after your beloved. It only costs $10!

2. Mix-and-match humiliation at IKEA

Single people hate IKEA, because 1) it's always full of fighting, but otherwise happy, couples, and 2) many of the "some assembly required" items have instructions that require at least two people to figure out. But this Valentine's Day, IKEA's making partnerless shoppers feel included ... by singling them out. If you tell the food court cashier you're single while buying some meatballs, you get a free drink and Princess cake. Because feelings can be eaten.

But wait, there's more! If you get another single person's phone number while shopping at IKEA, you'll get 50 percent off a KLIPPAN loveseat frame. After all, you don't need a full-sized couch in your bachelor(ette) pad.

3. Cubic zirconia stud earrings, 92 percent off

Groupon's offering a variety of Valentine's Day deals, from cupcakes to massages to helicopter tours. We love a bargain as much as the next person, but isn't giving a gift that's discounted 92 percent a little too cheap? These two-carat cubic zirconia earrings retail for $59.99, but now they're $5. Let's hope they're being paired with something else.

4. Tattoo removal

A diamond is forever, but a tattoo doesn't have to be. Vanish Laser Tattoo and Pigmentation Removal in Fort Worth, Texas is giving lovers of the regretfully inked a chance to win free tattoo removal for their partner. May the worst tattoo win!

5. A date at White Castle

Fast food places love getting extra cheesy on February 14. This year, White Castle continues its ironically celebrated Valentine's Day reservations. You and your sweetheart should book now if you want a sit-down slider dinner with white tablecloths, artificial flowers, romantic decor, free dessert, and a photographer to capture your special meal. Or if you're Harold and Kumar.

Another option: Be a tease and send a SliderGram e-card.

6. Liposuction, laser hair removal, lip injections, etc.

What do you get for the girl who has everything, except physical perfection? New hips, lips, or eyelashes for Valentine's Day! Samra Plastic Surgery in New Jersey isn't the only place offering cosmetic enhancement deals for Valentine's Day and marketing it as a way to "love yourself." If you look hard enough, you'll probably find a discounted facelift, too.

7. A tour of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

You don't have to be flush with cash to take your sweetheart on an exotic trip for Valentine's Day. If you live near Greenpoint, Brooklyn, you can visit the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant for free. The scenic tour — available at 9:30, 11:00, and 1:00 — starts with a short overview of the wastewater treatment process and ends atop the plant's 120-foot digester eggs. Gotta go? Book your tickets now at events@dep.nyc.gov

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Gophers and Groundhogs?
Gopher or groundhog? (If you chose gopher, you're correct.)
Gopher or groundhog? (If you chose gopher, you're correct.)
iStock

Gophers and groundhogs. Groundhogs and gophers. They're both deceptively cuddly woodland rodents that scurry through underground tunnels and chow down on plants. But whether you're a nature nerd, a Golden Gophers football fan, or planning a pre-spring trip to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, you might want to know the difference between groundhogs and gophers.

Despite their similar appearances and burrowing habits, groundhogs and gophers don't have a whole lot in common—they don't even belong to the same family. For example, gophers belong to the family Geomyidae, a group that includes pocket gophers (sometimes referred to as "true" gophers), kangaroo rats, and pocket mice.

Groundhogs, meanwhile, are members of the Sciuridae (meaning shadow-tail) family and belong to the genus Marmota. Marmots are diurnal ground squirrels, Daniel Blumstein, a UCLA biologist and marmot expert, tells Mental Floss. "There are 15 species of marmot, and groundhogs are one of them," he explains.

Science aside, there are plenty of other visible differences between the two animals. Gophers, for example, have hairless tails, protruding yellow or brownish teeth, and fur-lined cheek pockets for storing food—all traits that make them different from groundhogs. The feet of gophers are often pink, while groundhogs have brown or black feet. And while the tiny gopher tends to weigh around two or so pounds, groundhogs can grow to around 13 pounds.

While both types of rodent eat mostly vegetation, gophers prefer roots and tubers (much to the dismay of gardeners trying to plant new specimens), while groundhogs like vegetation and fruits. This means that the former animals rarely emerge from their burrows, while the latter are more commonly seen out and about.

Groundhogs "have burrows underground they use for safety, and they hibernate in their burrows," Blumstein says. "They're active during the day above ground, eating a variety of plants and running back to their burrows to safety. If it's too hot, they'll go back into their burrow. If the weather gets crappy, they'll go back into their burrow during the day as well."

But that doesn't necessarily mean that gophers are the more reclusive of the two, as groundhogs famously hibernate during the winter. Gophers, on the other hand, remain active—and wreck lawns—year-round.

"What's really interesting is if you go to a place where there's gophers, in the spring, what you'll see are what is called eskers," or winding mounds of soil, Blumstein says [PDF]. "Basically, they dig all winter long through the earth, but then they tunnel through snow, and they leave dirt in these snow tunnels."

If all this rodent talk has you now thinking about woodchucks and other woodland creatures, know that groundhogs have plenty of nicknames, including "whistle-pig" and "woodchuck," while the only nicknames for gophers appear to be bitter monikers coined by Wisconsin Badgers fans.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Google
arrow
Animals
Watch Christmas Island’s Annual Crab Migration on Google Street View
Google
Google

Every year, the 45 million or so red crabs on the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island migrate en masse from their forest burrows down to the ocean to mate, and so the female crabs can release their eggs into the sea to hatch. The migration starts during the fall, and the number of crabs on the beach often peaks in December. This year, you don’t have to be on Christmas Island to witness the spectacular crustacean event, as New Atlas reports. You can see it on Google Street View.

Watching the sheer density of crabs scuttling across roads, boardwalks, and beaches is a rare visual treat. According to the Google blog, this year’s crabtacular finale is forecasted for December 16, and Parks Australia crab expert Alasdair Grigg will be there with the Street View Trekker to capture it. That is likely to be the day when crab populations on the beaches will be at their peak, giving you the best view of the action.

Crabs scuttle across the forest floor while a man with a Google Street View Trekker walks behind them.
Google

Google Street View is already a repository for a number of armchair travel experiences. You can digitally explore remote locations in Antarctica, recreations of ancient cities, and even the International Space Station. You can essentially see the whole world without ever logging off your computer.

Sadly, because Street View isn’t live, you won’t be able to see the migration as it happens. The image collection won’t be available until sometime in early 2018. But it’ll be worth the wait, we promise. For a sneak preview, watch Parks Australia’s video of the 2012 event here.

[h/t New Atlas]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios