And we were worried about termites…

The Giant African Land Snail is invading South Florida. They are voracious eaters of 500 plant species but, as they need can grow as large as a rat, need a healthy supply of calcium for their shells. Where do they find this balanced diet? Stucco.

They last invaded in 1966 from Hawaii. A boy returning to Florida after a family vacation brought several of these snails with him and the snails took over. It took ten years to fully eradicate the population of 17000, an extremely big family on a very long vacation.

In 2010, snails of this species were discovered in the possession of the Santeria religious community of Miami. Santeria may use them in religious ceremonies and speculation points to that as the source of the new infestation. A parasitic lungworm carried by the worms can infect humans though no cases have yet to be reported.

That’s a bit more serious than I thought this would get. I started posting because in this video it looks like they’re here for our credit cards and quarters.

Writing Tips – “… to and … from”

Not a big tip but it alters flow. Or should I say, improves it. The “…to and … from” sentence has always been a clunker for me. Serviceable, it conveys the proper information but it’s like eating an ash sandwich: very dry and leaves me asking if there’s anything else I could have.

Example: “The wealth given to and taken from Mr. Moneybags created a cyclone of bad decisions everybody suffered for.” Writing in this way delays introduction of your subject and deadens the action. Instead of that, this: “The wealth given to Mr. Moneybags, and just as quickly taken from, created…” We’ll skip the suffering. We’ve had enough of it from this sentence’s first draft.

Isn’t the second version better? More direct, it gives wealth to our subject and then, as we’re comfortable with Mr. Moneybags’s station in life, creates the shock of taking it away again – the cyclone everybody suffered for.

If the meaning should convey a circular motion of wealth in Mr. Moneybags’s life, “… to and … from” still doesn’t satisfy. Move Mr. Moneybags up in the order and we have: “Wealth for Mr. Moneybags came in an unending cycle of giving and taking, creating…” Again, enough suffering.

This isn’t an example ready for all instances where “… to and … from” can occur. But I hope it illustrates the ability to always find a better way, one with more finesse and oomph, to deliver information without it reading like bookkeeping. That and the benefit of a good writer.

Dog Saves Girl

Now that’s news! I like this story out of Poland because:

1. The lost girl was 3.

2. The dog is a stray.

3. She fed it bread and it kept her warm.

A little girl wandered into the forest near her home and became lost in the marshes. The stray dog she played with most days followed her and stayed by her throughout the night. In the morning, rescuers found her after following the dog’s barking. She doesn’t own this dog but it feels tied to her, kindness repaid. And to think in most folklore a black dog following you is an omen of death. A simple story as sublime as any fairytale.