Travel tips: Phrases you need to know when traveling to France

It’s summertime, and many of you are planning a wonderful vacation. Some are planning exciting activities not far from home, while others are escaping to a foreign country. When you travel to places where you’re not familiar with the language, it may be challenging to get around. Sarah and Veronique, two dedicated QA team members, have joined forces to help answer: What sentences or words do you need to know when traveling to France?

Bon voyage!!

Do you have more French travel questions? Check out our relevant Q&A categories:

NookieRookie: Poetry under Pressure

NookieRookie is one of our versatile floating supervisors and a bronze contributor to boot. He describes himself as being born in the mid-60’s, acting like he’s 16, looking like he was born in the early 70’s, and feeling like he was born in the early 1900’s!

When he was a senior in high school, he forgot to do his poetry homework one day and had five minutes before class to come up with something. This is what he came up with (not bad for a rush job, I’d say!). Ironically, he notes this was the only poem he ever got an “A” on.

Share your knowledge about everything from sonnets to free verse poetry (such as the one below) in our newly-expanded poetry Q&A section!

“I am what I am”, by NookieRookie

I am what I am, if I weren’t that’s not what I’d be.
If I was what I wasn’t, it wouldn’t really be me.

If you are what you aren’t, then it really isn’t you.
So just be yourself, that’s the best you can do.

People go through life, being what they’re not.
Realizing too late, they really missed a lot.

They were what they weren’t, so their friends never knew,
what was really inside of a person like you.

Can’t See D4est for the Trees?

CleopatraPut those spectacles back on, ’cause she’s right here! We’re talking about one of WikiAnswers’ finest – D4est. Also known as Deb, D4est loves the call of the wild and freedom to roam that being a Floating Supervisor provides – although she does admit to having lots of fun (while learning something along the way) answering questions about the Swine Flu. With all the rapidly changing information, it has been a fun, rewarding challenge for this nurse extraordinaire who had this to say about the experience: “To be able to give education on prevention and be sure that questions are answered correctly without nonsense or panic on such a serious issue has been wonderful.”

Dying to know more about this modern-day Cleopatra? Keep those spectacles firmly attached to your nose ledge and read on!

What other positions do you hold on

I’m currently in the Silver Contributor level but will reach 50K soon… I’m looking forward to that. I’m not officially on Vandal Patrol but I bust as many as I find *big smile*. I’m an unofficial cheerleader for the Mentoring Program, too. I think that it is great that we have such a large and good group of Mentors for new Supervisors to work with and learn from. I just got a coveted “Bug Catcher” badge; I’ve wanted one of those ever since the new design came out. I think it is the butterflies that got me. You may have seen my Oscar-like “Acceptance Speech” on the Supervisor’s Forum when I got it, it was all big fun, but there was an element of truth underlying it, since it really is special to me. I unofficially help Star Wanderer with the Endangered Species category but otherwise, I’ve kept pretty footloose and fancy free, and, well… unofficial.

What is your age?

Lordy lordy lordy – it is scary but I just turned older than dirt in May. I am fast approaching the Sexagenarian milestone… or maybe I should say millstone… but it does have a nice ring to it (blush).

Are you the parent of any four-legged, winged, furry or otherwise non-human children?

Missy and Tony, my Airedales. Missy is a certified Therapy Assistance Dog. Tony is a snuggler who loves people and makes a fantastic visiting companion dog. Both are smart as can be and comedians like all Airedale Terrierists.

Where do you live?

We live in the US in the Houston, Texas area… where I don’t love the summer weather when the heat and humidity are so extreme, but most of the year is actually very good weather here. We live on two wooded acres. I have had it certified as a wildlife habitat. I currently have lots of deer in and out, but also two families of deer resident in the yard (literally) – one with twin fawns and another with a single fawn all around the same speckled age. They are so fun to watch run and buck and play together. We have all types of other wildlife and birds, hummingbirds and butterflies galore. There is always what I call a “Disney Scene” out the windows with fawns lying in the grass, birds singing, baby bunnies munching nearby in the shade and a squirrel or two.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the US Midwest, where my love of animals and wildlife began on our 250-acre horse breeding farm.

What are some of your past and present occupation(s)?

I’m an RN, have been since the “glass age,” when IV bottles were glass, not plastic bags, syringes were glass, medicines were in glass ampules, etc. Today, of course, all those are plastic disposables. I now work at home part-time reviewing medical records for quality and appropriate billing. And I care for my 91-year-old mom who is confined to bed and requires all my knowledge of nursing care to allow me to keep her at home instead of a facility. It is a blessing for us both. My bio page has a lot of detail on my past occupations, so I’ll not go into that… too many years to cover.

Do you have any special interests or hobbies?

The list is long. I groom my Airedales and am a fan of the breed, paint watercolors, etc.  When time allows, I volunteer at the therapeutic riding stable nearby, grow hot chiles and am a fire-eating chilehead.  I also love to listen to music of any type, but especially jazz and blues and new age.

What do you like to do for recreation?

Not a lot of time for it, but it usually involves my dogs, animals and the woods. I love to play Texas Hold’em poker and other things that currently take a back seat to WikiAnswers.

Do you own any collections?

Antiques, coffee tins, grinders and other antique and collectible coffee related items.  We had a fresh roasted coffee shop back in the ’70s – too many decades ahead of our time for the Starbuck’s money. *snap*

Do you have any special talents?

I can juggle *smile*, gourmet cooking, flower designs, art, textiles and soft sculpture.

What are some accomplishments that you are proud of?

Designed our home and had it custom constructed. Pretty good poker player.

What brought you to

I forget now, but I believe I was looking up something and saw tempting questions to answer and got hooked.

What keeps you coming back to

Addiction at first. Now it is mostly the people, but the addiction is still a big part.

What is your favorite activity?

Right now it is keeping up with the Swine Flu questions and updates. But one of my favorite things to do is work on alts… splitting and merging and moving.

How would you describe yourself or your personality?

I don’t take myself too seriously and love to laugh. I appreciate friends. I can’t help nurturing. I’m an activist on health care reform, nature, environmental issues and climate, green energy jobs and reduction of our use of fossil fuels. I’m Cleopatra, Queen of Denial, when it comes to thinking about my age. I have equally good friends from age 14 to 94. Age is just a number.

Samke23: A Debater, Not a Fighter

Samke23 is a WikiAnswers volunteer supervisor and Gold Contributor. This wordsmith loves debating and has been known to prefer debate meets over a night out with her friends.

She is a first-generation college student who plans to become an English teacher. When she’s not studying or solving crossword puzzles, she’s writing some scintillating poems such as the one below. She also supervises the WikiAnswers category of one of her favorite poets, Emily Dickinson.

Scintillation, by Samke23

I’m a writer

not a fighter

sudden danger raging fire

strike of lightning

name of Desire

not telling truth

not a liar.

I’m a writer

not a lover

breaking hearts

waking tired

bolt of thunder

name of Desire

not being faithful

not a cheater.

I’m a writer

not a poet

not an author

no prose glowing from the altar

name of Desire?


bringing my imagination higher.

Squashing Bugs with Shdus1

warning-readonly-sign-imageBecause we’re online, is not infiltrated with creepy, crawly many-legged winged, non-winged, horrific, disgusting (okay, I’ll stop now) insects slithering across floors and stalking from the ledges of ceiling fans, waiting sinisterly to attack the unexpected happy wiki-er. Phew… adjectives. But like any constantly growing, super terrific Web site, we do have the occasional less grotesque bug or two. And if had an official Chief Bug Catcher, the title would no doubt be bestowed upon this week’s Featured NSA Contributor: Shdus1. A champion for all things error-free, Shdus1 has proven that even the most sinister glitch is no match for him. Here’s more:

How did you originally hear about

My father grew up with Jeff Schneiderman. They went to elementary school together. They also went to college together at U of I in Champaign. He came to back to Chicago to visit a few months ago (not long before I joined), and I saw him with his Answers/WikiAnswers hat. My father told me a little about what he did, and I decided to sign up for

Explain your user name.

In Hebrew/Yiddish, shtus means ‘nothing.’ I put a bit of a spin on it. I sometimes use it for other user names, too. Since there are so many takes on various user names, I wanted something easy to remember that wasn’t just a bunch of letters and numbers. I think that word just came to mind. I added the “1” to the end of my user name since some Web sites require six characters in a user name.

What motivates you to volunteer your time to the community?

WikiAnswers is addicting. That is it. It is fun to answer questions, recat and be involved in the forum. And best of all, I am helping out the WikiAnswers community, which in turn helps millions of people around the world.

What are your areas of expertise?

I am Jewish, so I have experience in areas which are Judaism related. I am also good at math, but have yet to take anything more advanced than Geometry (I hope to learn Algebra 2 next year). My father even taught me some basic calculus when I was young!

What is your favorite feature?

My favorite feature on WikiAnswers would have to be the forums. I love finding bugs and being able to report them here. My other favorite feature on WikiAnswers would have to be that new questions and answers are posted on the front page. That is a really fast way to do categorization and catching bad questions and answers.

What has been the funniest question you’ve seen or your funniest experience on WikiAnswers?

The funniest question that I have found would have to be “Where can you find a recipe for making matzah with matzah meal or matzah cake meal?” The answer may not be funny, but I found the question hilarious.

Share a random fact (or two) about yourself.

My favorite subject in school is Gemara.

Litotes: Figure of Speech, Supervisor, Poet

How do you pronounce “litotes,” anyway? That’s a question Tom McDaniel, who happens to sport that selfsame username, is more than happy to weigh in on. His pronunciation preference for the figure of speech is “LIH-duh-teez.”

Tom obtained his English degree in 1995 and enjoys putting it to good use, most recently collaborating on a tutorial that will soon grace the Help Center on WikiAnswers!

Litotes also has a knack for writing some amazing poetry when he’s not supervising on WikiAnswers. He was kind enough to share one of his free verse poems with us today for our Poetry Corner feature.

A Visit with Blondie, As the Sun Sets, by Tom McDaniel

I wonder, Blondie, how many miles you have run
in your twenty-seven years as a horse. For that
matter, I wonder how many years I have wasted
in my too-short time here as a man. Distance

is something that snags somebody. You’d know that,
Temptress, Non-compliant Mare. You were bad
with men, and hard to get along with: even with the she
who rode you and showed you, at least, how to conform.

Why? Why ask why? We all come to this end.
Now, the way things are, you being a horse,
I walk up to you in a little mist of rain-showers.
You lift your head, I rub your forehead: that’s all.

Down goes your mouth, Queen of the arthritic
pains in your fumbling legs, mainly the knees.
Diligently, after I rub your forehead,
you drop your mighty horse head down

once again, to nibble up ropes of grass
and snap them free from the earth
with an energetic side-snip. Why were you born,
Blondie? Why were you here?

We don’t know. She, who has loved you, will cry.
It’s a matter of pain, and circumstance.
She’s putting you down, Blondie. I have loved you,
too, and I’ll join you, soon enough.

I drive away, having said good-bye. You
continue to nibble grass, oblivious to the
rainbow: vast, wide, acquiescent with nature’s
curves – still there, in the sky, though the sun is not.

Viruses: The War on Mini-Terrorists

toiletI was on my way home from work when it hit: sharp pain in my stomach, nausea, hot and cold chills. Suddenly, everyone looked like walking toilets and oversized bottles of Pepto Bismol. It was official. I had a bad case of the stomach virus.

As I sat in bed eating Saltine crackers and apple sauce, I became angry at the little organisms infecting my gut. This “bug” was going around harming innocent people, and now I was the latest victim. Who do these viruses think they are?

I instantly became determined to fight them off! As every commander knows (hey, Half-life counts as some sort of military experience), in order to effectively succeed in direct combat, one must understand the enemy. So, I asked WA, “What the heck is a virus?”

Answer: Viruses are non-cellular infectious entities whose genomes are a single nucleic acid, either DNA or RNA, which uses a cell’s biosynthetic machinery to direct the synthesis of specialized particles called virions.

Virions contain the viral genomes that are efficiently transferred into other cells. Many scientists argue about whether a virus is living or not; that’s why there is no virus kingdom. There are several different theories as to how they evolved – they could have been bits of cells, or random self-reproducing molecules, or particular cells that lost all of their useful parts except for DNA/RNA.

Hmm, so basically a virus is a semi-living, sort-of-organism with a strategic plan of “spread and conquer.” Behold, I lay before you the virus’s 5-step plan of premeditated destruction in layman’s terms:

  1. Infiltrate foreign territory.
  2. Seek out a healthy and happy host.
  3. Penetrate the cell, suck out the nutrition, energy and life-force of the host in order to multiply.
  4. Rip open the cell and infect surrounding cells.
  5. If mission proves successful, attack and destroy new cells by repeating steps 1-4.

virus replication cycleThere is one very big problem here: if the virus actually succeeds in taking over every cell in the body, it will inevitably kill its host – the very same host that is allowing it to thrive in the first place! In essence, a virus’s ultimate goal is destruction: destroy good and let evil reign. This is starting to sound familiar…

My friends, viruses are the micro-terrorists of the cellular free world! They are biological extremists; just as human extremists try to force their beliefs on others, viruses try to change the genetic coding of a host cell to mimic their own DNA. The threatened cell can either give in and become identical to its viral attacker, or it can stand up to the virus with the aid of its patriotic leukocytes. If the cell does decide that life is worth living, there are two potential tactics to defeat the threat.

  1. Stop the virus in its tracks: Viruses can’t actually multiply until they are inside an animal’s body, so if you stop a virus from  entering the body via good hygiene, supporting your immune system and promoting overall health,  you won’t have to deal with the buggers to begin with. In the real world, this means taking the offensive: no negotiations with terrorists, no foreign treaties with nations that promote terrorists, and supporting a beefed up army.
  2. soldiersPenetrate from within: Take an antiviral vaccine so your body can identify the virus. This means you are willingly exposing yourself to the enemy. You might feel some symptoms of illness, but your lymphocytes are hard at work making B-cell soldiers. In global terms, this means creating good PR in an unwilling environment: talking to the religious extremists, meeting the leaders of countries that harbor  terrorists, and becoming closer in the hopes of quickly crushing the enemy when they make a viral move.

So which approach works best, singing Kumbaya to the Taliban or telling them to “talk to the hand”?

I tried both methods in an attempt to kill my stomach virus. I think it was more insulted by my singing then by my disdain. Based on my experience, if we cure terrorism the same way we cure viral infections, all we have to do is feed terrorists some Saltines.

Congratulations WikiAnswers Scholarship Winners!

We’re excited to announce the 20 winners of the 1st Scholarship! They will each receive a $1,000 scholarship toward their college tuition. Special congrats to longtime contributors Kharrima and Glendaleatty!

  • Farah Abur Sharkh, University of Western Ontario-Canada
  • Akhil Agrwal, college TBD
  • Lindsie Alterman, SUNY Binghamton
  • Bryan Anderson, Pacific Lutheran University
  • Brittany Arditi, Lower Canada College
  • Jacob Block, University of Illinois
  • Krista Bryant, Southwestern Assemblies of God
  • Lana Burton, University of Utah
  • Natalie Chen, University of Washington
  • Kala Harriman, University of Arkansas
  • Zachery Kahn, Brown University
  • Jason Lodrigue, Cisco Junior College
  • Amy Luo, Rutgers University
  • Brittany Meggyes, Kennesaw State University
  • Amanda Miller, Life Pacific College
  • Mary Nguyen, York University
  • Alexander O’Mara, Onondaga Community College
  • Allison Spaulding, Grove City College
  • Erin Valentine, University of Alberta
  • Danielle Vargo, Mesa Community College

What Are Creative Uses of Duct Tape?

He’s back! Following on the heels of his debut smash hit, our very own IT Manager (aka the AnswerMan) returns to tackle a bigger challenge: What are some uses of duct tape? If you thought his paper clip ideas were original, wait until you see what he can do with duct tape… or is that duck tape? At least we know it’s not masking tape.

If YOU have a special question you’d like us to answer, leave a comment below. And even better – you can create your own WikiWednesday answer video (just make sure you mention that in the video) and send us the video link for a chance to be highlighted here in one of our next WikiWednesday answer videos.

Welcome to the C.Hainsaw Massacre! Muwahaha…

chainsaw2Just couldn’t resist that headline! Come on… when you see this awesome contributor’s user name, don’t you just immediately think of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Seriously, C.Hainsaw is one to look out for. Not only can he quickly cut through miscategorized questions in Famous Quotations and US Military, but his gnawing investigative skills have also been known to scare the behooligans out of the most prolific of vandals. You might know him as Saw (isn’t that another gory film?), but we all know him as one of WikiAnswers’ best Supervisors, WikiGuides, Gold Contributors, Vandal Patrol members and Mentors. He is C.Hainsaw!

Here’s more:

What is your marital status?

I have been married 21 years. My wife and I have three children and a grandchild. We also have two dogs (Bruzer, a miniature Chihuahua who has yet to prove his canine status; Killer, a border terrier who thinks he is a Rottweiler; and three cats: Momma Kitty, the neurotic matron; Yoda, her first kitten, who has been a lap cat from birth four weeks ago; and, Flip, the wild-child escape artist and comedian). Anyone want two kittens? It’s a package deal.

Where do you live?

We live outside a community in southwest central Michigan on a small lake. It is our refuge, such a quiet place, where we spend most of our time watching the water and wildlife. We’ve been here two years and do not estimate a move any time in the near future.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in California, Texas and Michigan (Navy brat). We moved here in December 1973, but I continued to grow up in south central Oklahoma (Army Basic Training) and a little town in southern Germany, Swäbisch Gmünd, where I served as a Pershing Missile Crewman. Special memories? The most special memories I have, which have generally overshadowed all others, are the days each of our children was born.

What are some of your past occupations? And what are you doing currently?

I have done a bit of everything. I have built furniture, crewed a nuclear missile, transported classified documents, clerked a US Army Headquarters Unit, worked in warehouses and factories, collected past due bills, skip traced, made donuts, performed maintenance, set dies and engaged in research and development of new automobile parts, coordinated fund raising for a charitable organization (MDA), been a student and a teacher. For the past year, especially the past two months, I have answered questions.

What is your key area of knowledge or expertise?

The only area of expertise I believe I have is facilitating solutions. This is just another way of saying “problem solver.” I know a little bit about a lot of things. Some have told me that I am an accomplished communicator, but I believe that I am still developing this skill. I have been pretty successful at helping people find the humor in not always humorous situations, and I was a very good teacher. My interest in these things, I believe, is intrinsic to who I am; it’s just how my mind works. As a result of my upbringing and my military experiences, I am a defender, a warrior in an archaic sense; I try to stand up for what is right, and I intervene for those who may not be able to fend as well for themselves. The journey of learning has been long and is far from over. I learn something every day, mostly about myself. I am a work in progress. :-)

Do you have any special interests or hobbies?

I am entranced by all forms of communication. I can listen to those with an accent all day; it is a study in diversity for me. I love the regional and cultural differences that exist in the ways people share what they know. I love stories, all sorts of stories. I am attracted to the prospect of listening to the story someone else shares as much as sharing one myself. I treasure every opportunity I have had to lead an audience on a journey by way of spoken and written word. The way we communicate with each other is one of the greatest gifts we have to share.

WikiAnswers certainly fits the definition of special interest, and I am amazed at the impact this site seems to have on people and the potential it has for reaching so many. I am proud to be part of it, and proud to be involved in its continued development.

What do you like to do for recreation?

I swim, clean our beach (rake lake plants and algae), walk and drive with my wife until we get lost and share (with anyone interested in listening).

Would you care to share any educational information?

I have an Associate of Arts from Grand Rapids Community College as well as a Bachelor of Science in Education from Central Michigan University. I was pursuing a Master’s in Middle Level Education with Special Education Emphasis, which I am only a few credits from, but recent events in our lives have led me to reconsider the direction of my professional pursuits. My wife and I are still exploring what direction that will be.

Please share some random facts about yourself, special thoughts, etc.

Much of what I believe can be found now on my WikiAnswers bio page. Some of this is:

  • Wisdom is where you find it.
  • There is no weight greater than regret.
  • There are only two things you do with regret: carry it around and be crushed under the weight of it, or set it down and learn from it. Move on.
  • A mistake is only completely a mistake if you learn nothing from it.
  • Sometimes the best way to find something is to not look for it.
  • Because you disagree with something, does not make it wrong. It just means it may be wrong for you.
  • Never set up a target you don’t want anyone to shoot at.
  • If you ask a question you will get an answer. You may not like that answer, but then maybe you should have considered that before you asked the question.

Additionally, I am convinced that no one is or ever has been capable of believing in nothing. If there is life, there is belief. I am not a religious person, rather I am spiritual. I respect and defend the right of every person to believe what they do. I do not defend the choice that some make to metaphorically or literally shoot at anyone else in support of their own beliefs. No one has the right to tear down any other to support their own faith. I prefer a live and let live philosophy; in the vernacular of an unpleasant place, “You do you; I’ll do me.” I believe that is universally insightful on a primal level.

Do you own any collections?

I have a substantial collection of paperback science fiction novels and anthologies. Aside from this, the only other collection it can be said I have is observations of human behavior and psychology.

What are your special talents?

I can twirl both hands simultaneously in different directions. I can speak bits and pieces (individual words and phrases) of perhaps a dozen languages.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I am proud of who my children have become. I see within them, individually, some of the best attributes of my personality. I am more personally proud that I have overcome some great obstacles in my own life, and continue to rise above.

Do you have any special goals or dreams?

I want to find a career or profession in which I can use my collection of eclectic skills and talents for the greater good. I want to be able to help people see the worth of themselves, and every person around them, regardless of any existing regretful behavior or past actions. I want to help people see that no matter how horrendous any situation or experience may be, something positive and rewarding can be taken from it. I want to share.

What brought you to

Actually, I was participating in another question/answer site when I started surfing in research of support for an answer there. I ran across a similar question here. I began to look more and more at the site and eventually began answering questions here. I discovered the nature of Wiki along the way. It is this sense of cooperative community that brought me back to the site, and what eventually led me to the decision to abandon contributing to the others. The community is what brought me and what keeps me here. I am convinced it is the sense of belonging that is at the core of so many of the problems that plague people today. I hope that everyone eventually discovers WikiAnswers. I just hope that WA can continue to evolve and adapt to it.

What is your favorite activity?

I love to answer questions, but equally as much, I think I love to help other members find what they want from the site. I truly enjoy the interaction I have with other Supervisors and the Community Advisors. I think one of the greatest satisfactions I have had, though, is helping an errant member turn around, giving me the opportunity to recommend her as a supervisor. I am proud of those I have recommended who have been invited; I take some small amount of pride in their successes.

How would you describe yourself or personality?

I am me. I am a collection of trivia and minutiae. I am simple; I am complex. I am like no one else, but similar to everyone. I am a riddle, a question and I am searching for the answer.

I also encourage anyone to share with me; I welcome it. I look forward to being a part of WikiAnswers and this community for a long time. We do it all here together.

Ligers and Broccoflower Hybrids: Mixin’ It Up Or Losin’ Control?

What happens when you mix two things together? Well, when you mix red and yellow you get orange, a pretty color. When you mix dark chocolate and espresso, you get a mochaccino, yummm. Seems simple enough, but what about more complicated scenarios? A Disney princess and a fish will give you a little mermaid. A camera and a cell will produce a cameraphone; add internet access and a Mac and you have the iPhone – a very nifty hybrid.

So what exactly is a hybrid, anyway?” asks a WA user.

Answer: It’s a mix of two different things to form one. Usually, it’s to make a better one of whatever the hybrid was made of.

A “better one”? Let’s test out this theory:

The most famous “mix” is the hybrid car. It runs on a combination of gasoline and batteries, creating less pollution and conserving natural resources – great. Next up are hybrid bikes; less chunky than mountain bikes but tougher than street bikes.

Ever listen to the techno version of the Beatles’ “All the Lonely People”? It’s an awesome music hybrid! Heck, there’s even hybrid democracy, where voters are involved in direct lawmaking (such as voting on propositions). Golf club hybrids are just fun. They combine the advantages of both woods and irons: a larger “sweet spot” while still retaining accuracy and distance.

Ok, I’m convinced. When you cross-breed species, the offspring can become superior to the parents. Do these hybrid vigors exist in the biological world?

The common carrot and corn are actually hybrids. In fact, plants have been cross-pollinated  and broccoflowegenetically manipulated for centuries. Gregor Mendel’s first experiments into the science of heredity were performed on pea plants. Many of the peas we eat today are hybrids, and some more exotic veggie varieties include broccoflower (broccoli x cauliflower) limequat (lime x kumquat) and loganberry (blackberry x raspberry).

More often than not, plant hybrids end up being hardier and more nutritious than both parents. A great example is the pomato. A young tomato can be grafted onto a potato plant, resulting in a thicker-skinned, longer-lived crop. The tomato shoot grows above ground and feeds off the below-ground potato roots. Once it’s been picked, cooked and eaten, you get a nice dose of Vitamin C and potassium in one shot.

Let’s delve a little deeper. Dare I enter the world of… animals?

I dare.

The animal kingdom is a little more sensitive to hybridization. For one, animals are highly evolved organisms. They move around, have complex neural systems and can be quite cute and cuddly. Animals require an extra level of sensitivity, so let’s look at a tried-and-true example no one should have a problem with: the mule.

The mule is a cross between a female horse and a male donkey. A horse has 64 chromosomes, while a donkey has 62. Traditionally, species must have the same number of chromosomes in order to produce fertile offspring. The resulting mule has 63 chromosomes, deeming it infertile. But what it lacks in reproductive potential it makes up in all other areas.

The mule is an intelligent, tough and hard-working animal. In Biblical times, the kings of Israel rode on them. In the Middle Ages, the mule was the chosen ride of the clergy. The mule is also responsible for expanding the American West, and promoting agriculture in the South.

Clearly, the mule is a successful hybrid vigor. So why not mix things up a bit more? Throw a zebra in the blender and you get a zorse or a zedonk. Woah, this is fun! Why stop here?

  • Cross a male African lion with a female tiger, and Poof! You get a liger. This hybrid can be traced back as far as the 1790s in Asia. Ligers are most often sterile and giant; they can weigh three times Ligermore than a lion and are twice as tall.
  • Think a male killer whale would look cute with a dolphin? The folks at Sea Life Park in Hawaii sure did. Kekaimalu the wholphin was born on May 15, 1985! She has a nice set of 66 teeth; a perfect intermediate number between her mama (88) and her pops (44).
  • Say “Congratulations” to the scientists in the United Arab Emirates. They were the proud witnesses to the 1995 birth of a baby cama. (Both camel dad and mama llama are doing well.)
  • We can’t forget the pumapard! The crossbreeding of a puma and a leopard results in a combination mini-me: a dwarfed version of the parents’ species.

wholphinSo, what do you say? Are these animals man’s best friend, created to help us and perfect evolution? Or are they freaks of nature, created for our own selfish curiosity?

Well, the liger is an obese cat and the wholphin is a social outcast. The cama inherited the genes for bad temperament, while the pumapard is undersized lunchmeat in the wild. These are all examples of hybrid depression – a crossbreed that produces offspring with a combination of genes less fit than those of the parent.

How can scientists predict when this will happen? The same way we predicted Africanized bees. We can’t.

As a rule of thumb, don’t mess with the animal kingdom unless you are willing to deal with the consequences.

What is a hybrid kid?” asks a WA user.

Answer: It is a kid who has weird symptoms, like 4 arms, 2 noses and a green toe.

No, thank you, I’ll stick to my mochaccino.

Thank You for Messaging: WikiAnswers and ReCAPTCHA

WikiAnswers is proud to be a part of the Carnegie Mellon University project that is digitizing old books from the Internet Archive, old editions of The New York Times and old time radio shows. It’s called reCAPTCHA.

They have devised an innovative system. Contributors posting on each other’s message boards or question discussion pages are presented with two distorted word images. One of the words is known while the identity of the other is not yet known by the system. The contributor needs to type in both words. By comparing what multiple people type for the unknown images, the system ascertains the identity of the mystery word!

If you have difficulty making out a word, just click the button showing two arrows in order to load two different word images. As an alternative for those with impaired eyesight, the user can select the button showing a horn image and then type what they hear in an excerpt of an old-time radio show.

Not only does this CAPTCHA system keep our message boards free of automated spam but, to date, WikiAnswers contributors have successfully completed over 30,000 reCAPTCHAs to make books accessible for reading and searching on the internet. That’s what I call a win-win!

Job Interview Tips: ‘What is your biggest weakness?’ (the worst answers)

In times of economic recession, job interview tips can come in handy. If you want to maximize your interview success, it’s a good idea to hone your interview skills first. There are many helpful resources out there, one of them being WikiAnswers. Its job interviews Q&A category has various tips such as the one we are about to share with you.

Gil Reich (’s VP of Product Management) and Pnina Baumgarten (Content Editor), help answer: “What are the worst answers to ‘What is you biggest weakness?'”

In case you’re still hankering for some more ways to shine while showing weakness, check out this one: “How do you answer ‘What is your greatest weakness’ in a job interview?”

More useful categories are:

RosaMistica: From Indonesia with Love

RosaWhat loves anime, is as busy as a beaver and can simultaneously sing a song in Makassarnese while recategorizing hundreds of misplaced Loch Ness Monster questions? It’s not a what! It’s a WHO! (And not the kind you’ll find on the pages of a Dr. Seuss classic.) This who happens to be one of WikiAnswers’ amazing teen Supervisors and dedicated WIT Team Leader, Vandal Patrol Generalist, WikiGuide, WikiReviewer and sleek Silver Contributor. To whom do we refer? The one and only wondrous phenomenon known as RosaMistica!

Dive in to find out more about this Indonesian powerhouse:

Where do you live?

I live in Indonesia in a town called Sungguminasa, which is in the Province of South Sulawesi. It’s a pretty quiet place to live. I have lived here for 11 years of my life. When I was at Elementary School, I moved to Australia to accompany my dad who got a scholarship to take his master’s there. I lived in Adelaide for three years and moved back to Indonesia in 2001. For high school I attended a boarding school, so I spent the last three years of my life there, occasionally coming back home. Now that I’ve graduated and going to college in August, I live back at my house in the small town of Sungguminasa.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up here in Indonesia, but like I explained, I spent three years of my life in Adelaide. I realized that living in Australia turned me from a shy girl to a talkative girl. I like that change. Special memories, well, attending a boarding school was a very special memory. My friends there were more like family. I remember my last night sleeping at the dorm. We couldn’t sleep because we were too busy crying and hugging each other! Even the boys cried, which is a rare sight. I would never forget my three years at high school.

What is your current occupation?

I currently tutor English and also ‘teach’ the Indonesian language on this blog I made: Come by and visit sometime!

What is your key area of knowledge or expertise?

It’s not only me, but others do think I’m great at teaching. And I think this is a great advantage for me since I want to be a lecturer like my dad. Other than that, I’m a pretty good writer. I have finished my first novel (the title is Hutan Kegelapan – Dark Forest). When I have let friends and family read it, they always say it is worth being published! I have enjoyed writing since I was eight years old. In fact, you won’t find me without a pen and paper nearby!

Do you have any special interests or hobbies?

My hobby is photography and interests (which people find kind of weird for a teenager) are ufology, cryptozoology and Egyptology (my favorite ologies). I know it’s weird, but there you go. That’s me!

What do you like to do for recreation?

Watching anime! I’m a very big anime fan. Some of my favorites are Kyo Kara Maoh, Hunter X Hunter and Fullmetal Alchemist. I also write loads for recreation, read fantasy books and manga. Oh, I nearly forgot! Contributing at WikiAnswers is something I do for recreation too! :D

What has your schooling been like?

The education in Indonesia is very different I guess. I spent two years at kindergarten, six years at Sekolah Dasar (Elementary School), three years at Sekolah Menengah Pertama (Junior Primary) and three years at Sekolah Menengah Atas (High School). I’ve graduated, and now waiting for the first term at college to start. The major I’m taking is English at Universitas Hasanuddin.

Please share some random facts about yourself, special thoughts, etc.

I can speak a native language from my area, Makassarnese. For example, “Kungai sikali WikiAnswers ka baji-bajiki taunna, nampa tampa’ paling baji tongi akbage-bage pangissengang!” means “I really like WikiAnswers because the people are nice and it’s also a great place to share your knowledge!”

Do you own any collections?

I collect fossils and rocks. I have been collecting since I found my very first fossil (the jaw of a bat) in a cave at Maros. My rock collection started when my uncle gave me some after he saw my fossil collection. I also have a very big collection of books which includes fantasy, horror, romance, science and history.

Do you have any special talents?

I guess writing is my special talent.

What are some accomplishments you are proud of?

Graduating from high school with very good marks! I was so afraid I would fail my national exams, but I passed!

Do you have any special goals or dreams?

I have a few. I would like to work in the United Nations. It is a very big dream, but I’m going to try to reach it. My second biggest dream is to have a WikiAnswers site in Indonesian language! Just like the Tagalog site.

What brought you to

WikiAnswers popped up on Google’s search engine when I was looking for information on my favorite anime, Kyo Kara Maoh! I opened it and found that the question hadn’t been answered yet. I knew the answer so I took about one minute… and a few minutes more to open other questions… I got hooked in less than an hour! The next day I sent Brave3 an email to apply to be a Supervisor.

What keeps you coming back to

My categories, the Supers, my WIT team members and also a saying that I read from a book. It said, “Knowledge is nothing without sharing it with others.” I agree with that. WikiAnswers is a major part of my life now.

What is your favorite activity?

Recategorizing, answering (especially the English to Indonesian questions) and deleting nonsense answers.

How would you describe yourself or personality?

I’m a very cheerful, outgoing person. I love to make friends! I can’t stand to be “not busy” and to be “too quiet.” My friends call me “Ms. Overly-energetic.” Yep, that’s me!

Stop Cyberbullying in its Tracks

Our tireless WIT coordinator, Neila222, has an exciting announcement this week:

WikiAnswers Influential Teens (WIT) is taking a stance against cyberbullying with a new anti-cyberbullying initiative. Cyberbullying occurs any time a person is harassed, threatened, embarrassed or willfully targeted by someone else through any type of electronic technology. It is just as dangerous as a physical schoolyard bullying, if not more so, because cyberbullying can have far-reaching and devastating consequences.

Today’s teens have seen the effects of cyberbullying firsthand and are prepared to take a stand in keeping cyberbullies off of WikiAnswers. WIT members interested in joining the anti-cyberbullying initiative have been researching WikiAnswers to find instances of cyberbullying, and submitting them along with reasons why they believe cyberbullying is wrong. Since the anti-cyberbullying initiative was launched last week, 25 WIT teens so far have taken a stand against cyberbullying.

In addition to receiving an anti-cyberbullying badge on their bio pages, WIT teens are seizing this opportunity to take an active role in reporting cyberbullies on WikiAnswers so they can be removed from the site, along with any derogatory, harassing or insulting posts. This initiative is growing every day, with more WIT members joining the fight against cyberbullying, and striving to keep WikiAnswers a safe place for teens and adults.

To read more about WikiAnswers’ policy on cyberbullying, you can visit the WikiAnswers Help Center. To learn more about WIT, visit the WIT Home Page. If you are between the ages of 13 and 18, and are interested in becoming a WIT member and joining the fight against cyberbullying, send an email to joinWIT @ (no spaces), and include your user name, date of birth, and tell us how you heard about WIT.

Thank you Neila and all the teens involved for their efforts to make a safe and welcoming environment!

Human Tears and Fish Fears: Do Fish Feel Pain?

I was walking in the food market today, and happened to hear a fisherman yelling out the catch of the day. My curiosity piqued, I leaned over to get a good look. There, lying on trays of ice, were live fish gasping for air. Their gills were discolored from the lack of oxygen, and their shiny eyes were gazing right into mine screaming, “Help me!”

fish on ice

I must admit to you that I am not a vegan, a vegetarian, or a PETA supporter. Yet, this sight struck the very core of my soul, and spelled out animal cruelty in clear bold letters.

I yelled at the fisherman, “This is morally unacceptable! Is this even legal?  The fish are suffering; can’t you at least kill them first?” (a good knock on the head takes a microsecond). He just chuckled, “They stay fresher this way and anyway… fish don’t feel pain.”

“How do you know fish don’t feel pain?” I asked. “Are you a fish? Have you had a hook jarred in your mouth? And if you speak Fishonian then tell me, what are your fish relatives saying as their gasping mouths open and close on a fatal bed of ice!?”

“Fish don’t feel pain!” he screamed again. “Of course they do,” I screamed back as I stormed away from this obvious sadist. It is scientific fact… right?

To my surprise, the answer I found was… Not exactly. Research actually has no conclusive evidence one way or the other. It all lies in the subjective word “pain.” There’s a huge difference between pain and the perception of pain, which scientists refer to as nociception.

painful injectionFishing advocates would argue that hooking a fish is equivalent to pulling the leg off a cockroach or stepping on a nail; the body reacts physically, as a reflexive response, but no emotional damage takes place.
A great example would be that of a child getting a shot at the doctor’s office. If a child is distracted when he feels that twinge of pain on the back of his arm, he will cry only because it hurts. This is a reflexive response.

Now let’s look at a very different scenario. If the child walks into the doctor’s office and sees a needle, he may cry before he even gets the shot. What if the child got localized anesthesia and couldn’t even feel his arm? The child might still cry as he watches the doctor inject a needle into him; these are both emotional responses to pain.

So, ‘Do fish respond emotionally to pain?’ asks a WA user.
Here are a few recent studies that highlight the conflicting results:

2003 – Dr. James D. Rose (Reviews of Fisheries Science) concludes that animals need specific regions of the cerebral cortex in order to feel pain. And fish do not have them.

2005 – Norwegian study reports crustaceans (lobsters and crabs) don’t have the capacity to feel pain either. Crustaceans have about 100,000 neurons, while the simplest vertebrates have upwards of 100 billion.

May 2009 –  Dr. Joseph (Applied Animal Behaviour Science) raised the temperatures in goldfish tanks. When temperatures returned to normal the fish were stressed, and exhibited fear which affected their future hooks

March 2009 – Dr. Bob Elwood (Queen’s University) found that crabs not only feel pain but remember it well after the sensation has passed, affecting their future decisions.

What is the ultimate answer to the question ‘Does it hurt when you hook a fish?’

Answer – Does not hurt me one bit. As the matter of fact, I feel pretty excited when I do manage to hook a fish.

So there you have it. Since science cannot decide, it is up to each one of us, as a responsible individual, to make the call. I just hope the excited fisherman doesn’t get reincarnated into a juicy flounder.

What can you do with a paper clip?

Some of our questions just can’t be adequately answered in words. So we recruited’s IT manager, aka The AnswerMan, to demonstrate novel uses of the common paper clip.

How many more uses can you come up with? Add them to: What can you do with a paper clip?

Note: First attempt at uploading the video showed an audio-video sync problem which led us to look for an answer to the problem: Why is the uploaded Youtube audio-visual sync way off?
We apologize to @WikiAnswers followers who saw multiple tweets about paper clips as we were trying to fix the problem.

Down Under with On the Wallaby

australia_flagOver at, we are extremely proud of our large and growing community of folks who hail from Down Under. For all you young ‘uns out there, Down Under is a colloquialism affectionately used to refer to Australia. One of the brightest shining stars from this land of magic and beauty is our very own On the Wallaby, who watches over a gazillion unique categories including Platypuses and Echidnas; Possums; Ludwig van Beethoven; and Bass and Flinders. She also happens to be the Category Supervisor of all things Australia and New Zealand.

If you’re curious how this amazing lady thunk up the name On the Wallaby, wonder no more. Direct from her bio: “In 1891, Australian poet Henry Lawson penned a now-famous poem entitled ‘Freedom on the Wallaby.’ ‘On the wallaby track’ is an Australian term meaning someone is out wandering and exploring the country. One of my favourite pastimes is driving and exploring with my husband (and my dog).” Dying to know more? Read on!

Where do you hail from?

I live in Australia and have always lived there. I grew up in Queensland, but was born in South Australia, living in small country towns until I was five. I now live in the southeastern region of Queensland near beautiful Moreton Bay, where there are hundreds of islands.

What is your current occupation and what have you done in the past?

I am a teacher and have been for over twenty years. My favorite past job was spending time on my uncle’s native fauna park on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, cleaning out the pens of the native animals. (The Tasmanian devils were a bit scary when it came to feeding time.) I learnt a lot about Australian native animals during that time, but I have learnt a lot more since, and am constantly amazed by how much more there is to learn. My uncle used to regularly come to Queensland to trade Australian native fauna with other fauna sanctuaries. I distinctly remember how careful he had to be the day he released a wedgetail eagle.

Another favourite job was being a cleaner at a motel at the base of Ayers Rock-Uluru. The motels are no longer there, having all been replaced by the Yulara resort, but in my spare time I was free to climb the Rock whenever I wanted, and I explored right around the circumference of Uluru. I was there in summer, though – very hot for cleaning and because the motel operated on generators, we weren’t allowed to put on the air conditioners while we cleaned.

I have also picked oranges in Mildura – also in summer and forty-degree heat! (That’s Celsius.)

What is your key area of knowledge or expertise?

I just love anything to do with Australiana. I grew up with my father’s passion for Australian history and geography, and many childhood trips through Australia’s outback gave ample opportunity to learn more.

Do you have any special interests or hobbies?

Walking and exploring. I love to explore, whether on foot or in the car. Even my dog has become an explorer. When we’re out walking, if she sees an area of bushland or a pathway diverting off the main footpath, she heads straight for it. When I’m driving with my husband, we rarely go straight from “A” to “B”, but divert to “X,Y and Z” along the way. A simple excursion to the other side of town invariably ends up taking all day.

What do you like to do for recreation?

Walk. Drive. Read. Play a variety of musical instruments. Answer questions on WikiAnswers!

Please share a few random facts about yourself, special thoughts, etc.

Nothing exceptional. I am annoyingly pedantic when it comes to spelling, grammar and punctuation, so I get especially annoyed when I make “typos” myself!

What are some accomplishments that you are proud of?

Although Americans are probably not familiar with the Australian author Colin Thiele – “Storm Boy”, “Blue Fin”, etc, – he was my second cousin. I’m proud of that. Some years ago I contacted an American author – Bonnie Leon – regarding a book she had written, set in Australia. One thing led to another, and she asked for my assistance in researching for her new “Sydney Cove” series, a project I enjoyed immensely. I am especially proud of the personal mention and acknowledgment she gave me in the published copy of her first book in the series.

Do you have any special goals or dreams?

I would love to have time to spend traveling wherever I wanted to in Australia, in a motorhome; to explore places I haven’t yet seen. Then I’d like to do the same thing over in New Zealand! And after that, I’d like to explore the United Kingdom, and see some real history, because my husband’s roots go back to England.

What brought you to

I was looking for an answer for the students I teach, and when I asked a question in WA, I came across an unpleasant answer submitted by a vandal which I did not want my students to experience. I signed in to fix it, and that was it – I was hooked! I found numerous Australian questions which needed fixing and editing, so my interest just developed from there. Now, I keep getting caught up with all the new categories that appear. There’s usually something there that piques my interest and spurs me to learn!

What keeps you coming back to

WikiAnswers was a platform from which I could indulge my passion for all things Australian, and it was good to know my work was appreciated by others.

What is your favorite activity?

Probably just answering questions. I like recategorizing; I like fixing alternates; I need to fix people’s spelling and punctuation (!) but I especially like answering questions.

How would you describe yourself or your personality?

A positive thinker! I can find the good in any situation, no matter how inconvenient the circumstances may seem at the time. I love knowledge and learning, and I love to convey that knowledge to the students I teach. I love to encourage creative thinking in my students. And I loathe hearing anyone describe something as “boring,” because I figure that there is always something of interest to be found – you just have to be prepared to look for it.