Archives For Disease

Sorry, no raindrops on roses in this joint (but plenty of whiskers on kittens, thanks to the three Weeblettes).

I was looking around my house the other day and I thought, You have a lot of really weird shit, Weebs.

It’s true, I have a lot of really weird shit. Eclectic, you might say. A lot of strange objects that I’m rather fond of. Let’s take a tour, I’ll show you around.

First, we’ll visit the infirmary to see my beloved collection of smallpox-related antiques. I’ve been obsessed with smallpox for years. In fact, my doctoral dissertation (which I didn’t finish, otherwise I’d be Doctor Weebles) was on smallpox inoculations in 18th-century America. There are many mighty diseases that have plagued humanity for centuries: tuberculosis, bubonic plague, yellow fever, etc, but I find smallpox the most compelling. As pathogens go, this one is brutal as fuck. Kill rates during epidemics ranged from 30% to 50%. In many parts of the world, children weren’t even considered official members of the family until they had contracted and survived smallpox. That’s some sick shit, yo. And smallpox is the only disease to be completely eradicated (although polio is on its way to extinction as well). It exists only in the labs now (and hopefully will not return in weaponized format, or any other format).

Clockwise from top left: 20th-century smallpox vaccine vials, 19th-century fleams, 19th-century scarificator, 19th-century ivory folding lancet, 18th-century scalpel.

In case you’re wondering how lancets, fleams, and scalpels treated smallpox, these little beauties were used to create wounds through which the smallpox matter (or cowpox matter, later on) was introduced. The scarificator is a neat little device with several small blades on the bottom to create multiple wounds at once. All of these tools were used for bloodletting as well. It was thought that many illnesses were caused by an overabundance of blood, so doctors would bleed patients to drain the “excess.” Shockingly, this charming practice hurt many more people than it helped.

Let’s move on to the Teeny Tiny Chamber of Horrors. Please note that Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy are here only for scale, not for punishment. They learned their lesson after last time.

This is my guillotine. There are others like it but this one is mine.

Raggedy Andy now knows the penalty for geting fresh with Raggedy Ann...

Raggedy Andy now knows the penalty for getting fresh with Raggedy Ann…

We’re going to make a right turn here, onto Sesame Street:

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One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! Six Count von Count items! Ah! Ah! Ah!

Aside from Oscar the Grouch, The Count is my favorite Sesame Street character. What better way to honor him than to build a shrine that includes toys made in his likeness? Please take a moment for quiet reflection here if you like.

Around the corner from Sesame Street is the Museum of Wacky Old Items. These objects are late 18th century to early 19th century.

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From top to bottom: Folding knife, bullet probe, blistering iron.

The folding knife, called a “penny knife” because that’s how much it cost, is the kind carried by soldiers during the American Revolution. This one is in pretty good shape but who knows, maybe it was used by a smokin’ hot guy in the Continental Army. It titillates me to contemplate this. The bullet probe determined the depth of a bullet wound. Fat load of good it did, though; it was a lot more common to die from nasty, infected bullet wounds than to be killed outright by bullets. The blistering iron did exactly what you’d expect: you held it over a fire to get it nice and hot, then seared the skin with it to cause a blister. You know that philosophy behind bloodletting? Yeah, well, blistering was another method of relieving people of the bad “humors” that caused disease. In theory, the blister would draw all the ick (that’s the official medical term for it, by the way) from the person, and when the blister drained, presto, disease all gone. But guess what? Yup. Didn’t work. In fact, you know who died after being severely weakened by copious bloodletting and blistering? George Washington. Poor bastard was already very sick, and the “medical” treatment finished him off.

And finally, let’s visit the farm and say hello to my stuffed animals. Not the taxidermy kind, either. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Weebs has stuffed animals???” Yes. Yes I do. Allow me to introduce you to some of my plush friends:

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Ham and Peas. Yes, those are the peas from Toy Story 3, how kind of you to notice.

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Top left to right: Whaley and Squeezy Shark. Bottom left to right: Owlie, Legs, and Narwally. What? I didn’t say I was good at naming them.

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The cuddliest breakfast ever: Toast, Coffee, and Pancakes. If only I could find a real mug of coffee this big.

Mr. Weebles is concerned about my penchant for buying giant stuffed toys because they take up a lot of space. I tell him I can stop anytime I want to. (I just don’t want to.)

And this concludes our tour for today. Thank you for joining me, I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I have. Please be sure to gather all your belongings, watch your step as you disembark, and get home safely.