Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 20



Species tulips in the periwinkle in my front yard.

Walking downtown for a Smell and Tell.  Cherry.

This month's Smell and Tell was on Musk.  As always, Michelle Krell Kidd ( blended history and science with interesting and lovely things to smell.

Now that I think of it, I suppose putting together a Smell and Tell is something like building a perfume.  There's a beginning.  There's a middle.  There's an end.  There are timeless ingredients, and there are the results of new technology.  Layers and layers of information are presented to the senses.  The experience is a bit different for each of us, depending on who we are and what we bring with us............

From a flight of fancy to the barnyard............  Humans will do the darnedest things to attract a mate.   This is hardly news -- we are famous killing everything in sight and/or using absolutely anything in any way we can think of, if we believe it might improve our sex lives.  I already knew this.

On the 20th I learned this sort of human behavior includes spraying ourselves with things that attract other species but not our own.  Boar taint, anyone?  You can buy androstenone -- one of two ingredients in boar taint -- in a spray can, and apparently some people use it on themselves................. 

(Wikipedia:  A pheromone (from Ancient Greek φέρω phero "to bear" and hormone, from Ancient Greek ὁρμή "impetus") is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the receiving individual.[1]

(Editorial note -- "trigger a social response in members of the SAME species".................)

Public service announcement:  Spraying yourself with something that attracts some other species is not a good idea, especially if you go where wild animals can smell you and get the wrong idea.....................

Musk for human use used to mean death for animals, but now there are good synthetics that can be used instead.
Different components of perfume have different functions.  Musk is an "exalter" -- one of the ingredients that exalts other ingredients (makes them more noticeable).  It does the same thing for other smells -- if you need a bath, musk is going to make that plainer to others, rather than masking it.

I guess musky odors can smell funky to some people, but I am apparently not one of them.  I thought some of the things we smelled were "too strong" but in a "too-strong soapy/perfume-y" way, not in a funky way.  I thought most of the things we smelled (including the deer lure) smelled good.  (We did not smell boar taint....)

There are all sorts of different "odor wheels" to help people develop a vocabulary for describing smells and tastes.  Here's one for whiskyHere's one for tea.

Given that odor wheels exist, it's not a surprise that they exist for ... all kinds of different sources of odor.

If you want to see a nice crisp image of the body odor wheel, there is one here.

In this Information Age, we can access more information, and access it WAY more easily, than in former times.  Many things we read online are not correct.  (This is equally true of things we hear from the person behind us in line at the grocery.............)

As Theodore Sturgeon said, "90% of everything is crud."

Here are a bunch of really good questions we can ask ourselves, when we are trying to find out about something.  SMELL makes a good acronym.  "Does this info SMELL, or might it be reliable?"

John McManus, on using the SMELL test to see if information is likely to be reliable.

McManus focuses on info found online, but I can't think it matters.  The same questions are equally applicable to info from any source, in my humble.

Thank you, MIchelle, for another interesting Smell and Tell.

The next Smell and Tell is May 25 at the Ann Arbor downtown library, and the subject is roses..........  Y'all come.

I took the bus home from the Smell and Tell.  It was dark, but not quite totally dark.  This Bradford pear is right under a street light.  The camera couldn't have done this, but the phone can.


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