5 Things You Didn't Know Are Signs Of Impending Danger
Heads up: You're going to die! I mean, we're all going to die someday. What I'm saying is that there's a good chance you're going to die in the immediate future, if not right now. Again, that could still mean all of us, but wouldn't it be nice to have some kind of advance warning, so that maybe you could Final Destination your way out of death and carry on to see another shitty sequel? Good news! Those warning signs exist all around us -- you just have to know what to look for. We talk about some of the lesser-known signs of impending doom on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by Cracked editor Alex Schmidt and musician Danger Van Gorder. I'm also talking about them in this column. Who would've seen that coming?
The Animals In Your Neighborhood Go Missing
Are all the good puppies and kitties in your neighborhood disappearing? Right off the bat, it's probably aliens, in which case you're just going to have to ride it out until they have their way with your community. If you're able to rule out extraterrestrial explanations, though, don't discount that you might be getting ready to die in a natural disaster of some sort.
Sure, the evidence that dogs and cats can sense impending earthquake danger days or weeks in advance and plan their mass exodus accordingly is anecdotal at best. But even websites that end in ".gov" agree that pets with keener senses can pick up a particular earthquake wave that humans can't, and that it arrives seconds before the earthquake we actually feel starts. That's the most likely explanation for this famous video ...
... in which a verrrrry good girl named Sophie can be seen sniffing the floor ...
... and then taking off at full speed to look for her owner ...
... seconds before a magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit Eureka, California in 2014.
So your pet at least has that going for them in the event of an earthquake, although that three-second jump on things probably isn't going to help you too much, seeing as how the average dog will react the exact same way to seeing a squirrel in the front yard. Still, dogs and cats aren't the only animals, and earthquakes aren't the only natural disasters.
Science has discovered at least one animal that's capable of predicting when the weather is about to turn deadly. A postdoctoral researcher named Henry Streby was conducting what I imagine was the cutest study of all time to determine if a bird called the golden-winged warbler was capable of wearing a tiny backpack transmitter.
They sure are!
In combing through data from the birds he'd tracked, he noticed something strange. Days before a massive supercell storm devastated the Great Plains region of the United States, all of the golden-winged warblers packed up their shit and moved to Florida. All of them, as a team, some of them wearing darling little backpacks. I can't stress that last part enough.
The theory is that they were picking up something called "infrasound" -- a low-frequency noise produced by the storms that humans aren't capable of hearing. In this case, the sound was such that it compelled them to flee the area. This was a capability never before seen in birds up to that point, and it only happened when we were hit with a storm the likes of which we hadn't seen in decades, if not centuries. So it might not be that animals can't predict when a natural disaster is about to happen; maybe we just don't realize they can yet.
Oh, and since we're on the subject of your only friends in life ...
The Dog Is Sniffing You More Than Usual
You know what dogs are able to smell better than humans? Just about everything. Sense of smell has been dogs' go-to super power for a long time now. They use their highly-tuned honkers to sniff out everything from bombs to cocaine. Now, they're expanding their reach beyond the War on Terror and the War on Drugs to fight another seemingly unwinnable battle: the War on Cancer.
As it turns out, there are chemicals in cancerous cells that some dogs are able to detect through smell, and doctors at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center in Philadelphia are working to harness that power. Their ultimate goal is to produce nanotech sensors that can detect even the tiniest bits of cancerous tissue, sometimes as small as 1/100,000th the thickness of a sheet of paper. Or, to put that in layman's terms, we'll all look back someday and rue the moment we decided to create the tiny robots that eventually turned on us and gave us all incurable cancer.
Damn you, science!
In one display of this remarkable ability witnessed by a New York Times reporter, a verrrrry good boy named McBaine moved around a large wheel with 12 protruding arms, each grasping a vial of blood plasma, one of them laced with a scant amount of cancerous tissue. Amazingly, he was able to detect the cancerous vial, and all he wanted in return was the chance to play with a tennis ball.
He does it for the love of the game.
The pups are especially proficient at sniffing out ovarian and prostate cancer. So, women: If your dog is spending an inordinate amount of time with its nose nestled in the area of your baby-making machine, get that shit checked.
Men: If your dog is constantly sniffing your ass ... it's probably just being a dog. They do that a lot. Either that or you're on the verge of dying like a tech legend. You might want to have someone look into it. Especially when you consider that in one study, dogs were able to detect prostate cancer just by sniffing urine, with an accuracy rate of 98 percent. That's a better rate of return than we're currently getting from the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test that doctors use now to detect the disease early. Sounds super comforting until you realize that it blows wide open the possibility that your dog will be right and science will conclude otherwise, rendering all of that purposeful ass sniffing useless in the end.
It Takes You Longer To Stand Than Most People
OK! Who's ready to find out if they're about to die? There's a really simple way to do it. You don't need any special equipment. You don't need to put a drop of your blood on a test strip and send it off to a lab. You only need enough space on the floor to sit down.
I'm talking about the sitting-rising test (SRT). This terrifyingly simple way to calculate the hardiness of your own mortality is the brainchild of Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo, who believed the tests available at the time for gauging a person's flexibility, balance, and muscle strength were too cumbersome or time consuming. Seeing as how those three things provide one of the most surefire ways to predict how much time a person has before escaping the mortal coil, identifying a more user-friendly way to measure them was of the utmost importance.
What Araujo came up with is the very definition of simplicity -- all you do is sit down and then stand up.
Try it right now!
Well, there's slightly more to it. Here's how it works:
1. Stand up. Wear comfortable clothes and no shoes. Make sure you have lots of room on the floor around you.
2. Lower yourself to a sitting position on the floor, making sure to not lean on anything.
3. Stand up again, and try to do it without using your hands, knees, forearms, or the sides of your legs.
Each movement -- once down, once up -- counts for five points. Deduct one point for every time one of the aforementioned appendages or body parts is used for support. Deduct half a point for every time you lose balance.
See? Simple! Except only if you're healthy! If you're out of shape, it's going to be a challenge, and that means bad news for you. In a study published by the European Journal of Cardiology, Araujo had more than 2,000 patients from ages 51-80 take the SRT. Those who scored less than eight points were twice as likely to die within the next six years.
"Here, let me help you up."
People who scored three or fewer points were more than FIVE TIMES as likely to die within the same time period. For every one-point increase, participants could expect to add an extra 21 years onto their life.
So if you're wondering what the next ten years of your life are going to be like, give the SRT a try today. For all you know, you won't even have to worry about at least four of those years, because you'll be dead by then. Comforting!
Related: Standing Ovations Are Stupid As Hell
You Have The Flu
Are you feeling a bit fluish today? If so, there's a good chance it's not the flu at all. We just covered the fact that rabies symptoms look a lot like the flu, and that by the time those symptoms appear, it's almost certainly too late to do anything about it. You might as well already be dead.
Rabies aren't the only concern, either. It could mean you're having a heart attack. We normally associate a fate like that with old white dudes clutching their chest and falling over dead in public, but like so many other things in life, that's movie shit. Not every heart attack starts with crushing chest pain, and some never even progress to that point. In a lot of cases, just like with rabies, the symptoms of a heart attack feel just like having the flu.
A borderline-famous example of this happened to your dad's favorite Bruce Springsteen alternative, John Mellencamp, a few years back.
Holy shit, is that really him?
During his episode of VH1's Behind the Music, he told a story about having to end a tour early after learning he'd just suffered a minor heart attack. At the time, he was smoking 80 goddamn cigarettes a day and ending most nights eating steak and eggs at four o'clock in the morning. Nevertheless, when his doctor told him it was a heart attack, Mellencamp balked at the idea. He just thought he had the flu.
Now think about this. If someone is dedicated enough to their nicotine habit that they're putting away four packs every 24 hours, is it realistic to believe that John Mellencamp just quit smoking completely during that time? If you said yes, you've never met a chain smoker. No, it's way more likely that, while in the throes of a days-long heart attack, John Mellencamp smoked the entire time.
Just live with that idea for a minute. You could be having a fucking heart attack right now, even as you pound Monster energy drink and work your blood pressure into a boil over a video game. The key to not dying in that situation is to get help early, which you're unlikely to do if you just write it off as the flu.
It's even trickier for women. This page features tons of stories from women who suffered heart attacks that started as back pain, usually between the shoulder blades. Most of them include sentences about how they had no idea that heart attacks sometimes start that way. One woman just kept casually walking through an airport.
So I guess the point is this ... if you're reading this and also have the flu or severe back pain, you're having a heart attack.
The Waffle House Is Closed
OK, I admit I'm veering a bit off premise here. For this one to apply, disaster has to have already struck. So let's say it did. Not where you are, but where someone you love lives. Oh, and that someone is going to need to live in the Southern part of the United States. Because that's where the motherfucking Waffle House lives.
So now that we've set that scene, let's send a tornado through town to devastate the shit out of it. Oh no! Are your people alright? Have they been hurt? Your calls aren't going through. They aren't returning your texts. They haven't spoken to you in years because you stole your parents' television and sold it for heroin. The possibilities are endless, but the point is, you have no idea how bad things are in their area. Except you do, provided there's a Waffle House nearby.
See, Waffle House has a longstanding policy that in times of turmoil, they will be open if possible, even if the only thing they can do is serve coffee. What generally makes the difference, obviously, is how much damage their area received.
Isn't this what every Waffle House looks like?
If they're serving a full menu, that means they most likely have electricity, which in turn means the people of that area likely do as well. If the power hasn't even gone out, how bad can things be?
If they're operating on generators and serving a limited menu of just eggs and coffee or something of the like, that means people can probably still get around, but the power is most likely out and the damage was substantial.
If it's closed completely, well, we had a good run, Earth.
Again, this isn't a typical Waffle House parking lot?
If this sounds like complete and total nonsense, that's probably because it's an idea based on the Waffle House, but it's also a legitimate measure used by FEMA. They call it "The Waffle House Index" and they use it almost exactly as described here. If a Waffle House is doing alright, they know the area it's in likely needs less help than others. If one's closed, they know those people need help, and soon.
Say whatever else you want about Waffle House, but if something's going to stop them from serving you coffee after a natural disaster, it will be over their employees' dead bodies. Literally, I'm afraid.
Adam is on Twitter. Fun!
For more from Adam, check out 5 Stories That Will Change Your Opinion Of Famous Companies and 5 Things You Should Know When Visiting a Psychic.
Imagine being trapped aboard the doomed Titanic on an icy Atlantic. . . with the walking dead. Check out Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon's Deck Z: The Titanic.