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Ouija Broads Episode 12, The Skydiving Beaver and the Arboreal Octopus.
Opening theme music (The House is Haunted) plays and fades in.
LIZ: You are listening to Ouija Broads. This is Liz—
DEVON: --this is Devon—
LIZ:-- and I have brought to you our very first Idaho story!
DEVON: I’m so glad we’re crossing borders.
LIZ: Yes! The kind of border you can walk to from where I’m at.
LIZ: But it counts.
DEVON: It does count. We had a friend that, uh skateboarded—longboarded from Spokane to Idaho, so if she can do that, you can definitely walk there.
LIZ: Well, do you remember when her husband ran all the way from his house to Coeur d’Alene?
DEVON: Yeah, and at the end he danced, because it wasn’t enough running.
LIZ: What’s wrong with people?
DEVON: I don’t know why we’re friends with these people. They just make us feel bad about ourselves.
LIZ: **laughing** I drove to that restaurant, and I ate some food next to him, so I did my part, okay?
DEVON: You did your part, yup. You’re pit crew.
LIZ: Yeah, exactly. Except I just showed up at the end to say good job.
DEVON: That’s all he needed.
LIZ: I gotta start talking about the actual thing because my stomach’s growling—
DEVON: Go for it!
LIZ: --this isn’t going to be good!
DEVON: Tell me about Idaho!
LIZ: Okay. I’m going to set the stage for you. It’s 1948 in Idaho—
DEVON: You-da-hoe. **laughing**
LIZ: I gotta warn you, there’s gonna be a lot of opportunities for low-hanging fruit in terms of double entendres, so just get it out of your system now.
DEVON: **laughing** I’ll stop, I’ll be good. Please. Please set the scene.
LIZ: **laughing** All right! Housing boom after the war is great for Idaho, but is actually very hard on the local wildlife, right?
LIZ: There’s all this new development, and in particular, one animal that’s having a really hard time with this is the beavers.
LIZ: Yeah, got anything?
DEVON: **through laughter** I’m being good. I’m being good. Nope. I love a beaver with a hard time.
LIZ: **affectionate sigh**
DEVON: Go ahead, please!
LIZ: They don’t mix well with all the new development because they are their own little engineers. And they like to make dams and chew through things, and they damage homes, and they screw up the irrigation systems for farms, and all this kind of stuff.
LIZ: But even in the forties, they understand that beavers are a really important part of the ecosystem, so they’re not just going to kill them. They know that when you have beavers around, it reduces the risk of flash floods, and there’s less erosion, and they improve the habitats of other creatures.
LIZ: So they decide to relocate them. They have two problems that are connected. One is that the places that they did want the beavers to live were very underdeveloped, and they didn’t really have roads where you could take a care.
LIZ: And the usual way of getting around in these areas was you would use a horse or a mule.
LIZ: And the beavers did not care for this very much.
LIZ: They did not like being put in little transportation boxes and bounced around in the heat. And you know who else didn’t like it was the horses.
LIZ: Cuz the beavers did not smell good, and they had a couple of incidents where they would try this, and y’know, as soon as you let the beaver out the beaver would just be like “Nope, fuck this, fuck you, fuck everything, rarararar.”
DEVON: Oh yes.
LIZ: The horses would be mad, the conservationist would get bitten, and it was just a bad scene.
DEVON: Oh, dear.
LIZ: So. It was pretty miserable for everyone involved.
DEVON: Oh, dear.
LIZ: Here’s where they come up with a brilliant plan. Surplus… World War Two… parachutes.
LIZ: They put a lot of effort into this project... to airdrop beavers.
DEVON: **explodes in laughter for several seconds**
DEVON: **through laughter** Oh, I’m crying. Oh, my God.
LIZ: It’s an entirely true story and when I went digging for weird Idaho stuff, I found this and I was like, “Well, I’m done.”
DEVON: **is still dying from laughter**
LIZ: “I don’t want to do anything else before this.” Beaver parachutes!
DEVON: **weakly** Beaver parachutes. **still laughing** Please… give me a second…
DEVON: **away from mic, still laughing* …hyperventilating… it’s just really funny to picture… please continue… I’ll be good…
LIZ: Well, I’m sorry to say that they didn’t put them in little vests.
DEVON: They didn’t?
LIZ: If only. They built these special wooden boxes that they held together with linen strips.
LIZ: And it took them a while to find the right design for this. Because the trick was, they needed something that after they landed, the beavers could get out, but they would not chew their way out while they’re still in the plane.
DEVON: While they’re in air!
LIZ: --therefore, yeah… therefore sprinting around the small propeller plane and distressing everyone.
DEVON: **laughing** Especially the horses. I assume the horses are still part of it, right? They’re in the plane as well.
LIZ: **laughing** Yeah, well, they wanted to see how it worked.
LIZ: So they made these boxes and they tested them with this one really patient beaver who was named Geronimo, of course.
DEVON: Good God.
LIZ: And they dropped him off the plane with a parachute many, many, many times.
LIZ: And… yeah, and it got to the point where, when he would pop out of it, he would actually just go to them and wait to be put back in the next iteration, because he knew this was his job.
LIZ: His reward for his patience is, he got to be the first airlifted beaver who got relocated and they sent him with three female beavers to keep him company.
DEVON: **approvingly** Yeah, Geronimo!
LIZ: Way to go, Geronimo, yeah. All in all, they airdropped 76 beavers.
DEVON: Good God, that many?
LIZ: Yeah, 76. 75 of them were fine, and one of them apparently, halfway down, got out of the box somehow and jumped off it. Like, he would have been fine if he’d just stayed on the box.
DEVON: If he just stayed on the box!
LIZ: Probably panicked. But I would have been pretty alarmed.
LIZ: These are not small animals, like, I don’t even like putting a cat in a carrier or a kid in carseat. So—
LIZ: --the idea of capturing a wild beaver and cramming it into this little thing with a parachute, a surplus parachute.
DEVON: Oh, my God. This is my favorite day. I can’t believe this is what human beings came up with.
LIZ: Yes! They looked at this problem and they didn’t say, “oh, well, I guess we’ll just put up with y’know, how unpleasant this is,” or “Maybe we’ll wait until they put a better road in,” or “let’s just give up on this project,” they said “we can crack this!”
DEVON: “We have the technology!”
LIZ: “What’ve we got lying around? We can make this work! What do we got extra of these days, parachutes? Sweet!”
DEVON: So I want to do a limited edition run of drawings that I make related to some of our episodes and this is definitely on the list of things to draw.
LIZ: Oh, yeah. It’s so good.
DEVON: Beaver drop.
LIZ: And these were not artists, or anything. These were conservation officers. So that is a lot of dedication.
DEVON: That is a lot of dedication! Man, they really wanted this to work.
LIZ: Mm-hmm, yeah. Seventy-five beavers. And you know what, it was really successful. Their descendants are still around.
DEVON: No way!
LIZ: Yeah, they’re still around supporting the habitat and making dams for free, basically. You don’t have to get a corps of engineers in, you can just airdrop some beavers in there. They haven’t done it since. It was successful and it accomplished what they were trying to do, and they really haven’t had that circumstance come up again, but it was the kind of thing where it happened and it made the news a tiny bit from what I was able to find, but then it just completely fell out of the public consciousness until a couple years ago, because God loves us, somebody found a videotape
DEVON: What. Are you serious?
LIZ: Yes! They make this sort of… it’s very late forties, early fifties video of—
LIZ: **fifties announcer type voice** “Science On The March!”
DEVON: Yes! Yes!
LIZ: And I will put it up on Facebook and Twitter for everyone to enjoy.
DEVON: Immediately! Oh, gosh!
LIZ: Well, when the episode comes out. Cuz otherwise they’re going to—the surprise will be ruined.
DEVON: I have not wanted anything more in my life than this video right now.
LIZ: Yeah. There’s not—this is a tricky one. I really should have picked a second topic, because that’s the whole story. You know the whole story as soon as I say the words “beaver parachute.” But I can’t not bring beaver parachutes to you.
DEVON: That’s all I need! I don’t need it to be a long story. It is perfect in its simplicity.
LIZ: Yeah! It’s really—it’s sweet, only one beaver is harmed in the making of this ludicrousness—
DEVON: And he did it to himself.
LIZ: It’s a real animal, it really happened. Our tax dollars went to this project. And I’m frankly quite sad they abandoned it, because I think it would give us a real tactical advantage in some places.
LIZ: The element of surprise.
DEVON: What would you dump, Liz? Would you dump, like, wolverines?
LIZ: What wouldn’t I dump?
DEVON: **laughing** That is fair. That is fair.
LIZ: All I’m saying is, if you want to win hearts and minds in whatever country we’ve decided to go to war with this week, just be like, “But would you like… some puppies?!”
DEVON: Take note, United Nations. Stop dropping food and water into war-torn places.
LIZ: More dogs is what people want. Extra mouths to feed.
DEVON: More… beavers then, it is.
LIZ: Yep, beavers. For places that need some irrigation and so forth. There were actually coyote puppies on the cover of the Spokesman today and I was like “Look Matt, wolverines!”
DEVON: I was gonna say! It’s too bad that Manito Zoo was shut down, cuz they could’ve just walled the beavers off, much like Manito.
LIZ: **laughing** Yeah! If it had been twenty years earlier, I’m sure one of these things could have caught a stiff breeze and ended up in Spokane and they would’ve gone, “neat! Free beaver!”
DEVON: “Stick ‘em in the zoo with the others!”
DEVON: Or he would have run off to the wilds to live with the escaped grizzly bear that, I’m sorry, they looked for for… four days?
LIZ: Four whole days.
DEVON: Fuck that.
LIZ: Well I mean, for some of those days, they knew where it was, they just couldn’t catch it.
DEVON: Oh, God.
LIZ: They said it was really good at… what it was doing, so--
DEVON: Bein’ a bear, man. Just bear stuff.
LIZ: --they bailed, yeah.
LIZ: I got so wrapped up in all that, that I didn’t even tell people that that’s why Spokane is called the Lilac City, because they started a lilac garden that started a huge trend of having lilacs in your gardens. So now I’ve said that! That’s why Spokane is the Lilac City.
DEVON: Oh, I thought this was going to relate to the bears.
LIZ: Yeah, that bear’s name was Lilac, and it was—
LIZ: --so famous!
DEVON: You will bullshit as long as I keep hitting record, so..
DEVON: I want to believe it, too.
LIZ: This story has been so true up to this point, I had to throw something in there.
DEVON: You did. You had to keep me guessing. Geronimo the beaver just let them do this, eh?
LIZ: Yeah, he—yeah, suddenly Canadian Devon, he did.
DEVON: That’s how I indicate a question mark when you can’t see my face!
DEVON: Giving you verbal cues!
LIZ: Yeah, and then he got to be Geronimo the polygamous beaver.
DEVON: Geronimo’s living the life we all want to live.
LIZ: Yeah, that was a very non-traditional marriage for Idaho, I gotta say.
DEVON: Wasn’t that the truth.
DEVON: You know, you have given me something new to associate with Idaho, because up until this point it’s been the Coeur d’Alene Resort and the Bennett Bay sex hotel.
LIZ: **laughing** Where you can pretend that you are in space, having sex!
DEVON: You’re an astronaut! Or you’re in the jungle!
LIZ: God love you, Bennett Bay, but when your website brags that you clean the hot tubs once a week… it makes me think about it too much.
DEVON: It makes me really consider… the timeline, here. Uh, sorry, my cat’s on my lap and he’s eating my headphone cords, so do you have a spare parachute? Because I have an animal I’d like to drop out of a plane right now.
LIZ: That’s a solution to your moving problem.
DEVON: Bangarang, let’s do it. All right, I’m on it.
LIZ: So yeah, it’s a happy ending, and a real animal, but a very weird story.
DEVON: Oh man, I love it when a beaver has a happy ending.
LIZ: **laughing** You made it a good fifteen minutes without doing that so—
DEVON: --it was like holding back a sneeze, Liz! It gave me a headache!
LIZ: Oh, okay… I’m going to give you a preview of some Idaho stuff that I’ve found. Did you know the Center of the Universe is in Idaho?
DEVON: I did! I have been to it!
LIZ: Have you? Oh, that’s amazing!
DEVON: I’ve been to the Center of the Universe and I have a picture of my husband standing under the sign.
LIZ: Well jeez, put that up, that sounds really good.
DEVON: On it.
DEVON: Sorry—tell me something I don’t know.
DEVON: That came off really snotty and challenging and I didn’t mean it that way!
LIZ: No, it’s amazing that you went, I have considered it, but I’m also like, that’s a long road trip for a picture.
(Side note: Liz did eventually get to Wallace, Idaho in summer 2019).
LIZ: Um, let’s see, what else do I have. Do you know there is a brothel museum from the 80s?
DEVON: The 1880s?
LIZ: No, the 1980s.
DEVON: This I did not know about, and this I need to know about.
LIZ: There was a raid and everything has been left exactly how it was when all the women ran out, except they have put some mannequins in to wear the outfits.
DEVON: Oh, that improved it.
DEVON: Good Lord.
LIZ: But it’s a little time capsule now!
DEVON: Okay, let’s go there!
LIZ: There has been a request for a brothel episode, which I definitely think we can do.
DEVON: Oh, yeah.
**”The House is Haunted” fades in abruptly, then back out.**
LIZ: Oh, Devon.
DEVON: Oh, Liz!
LIZ: Our beaver episode came in really short, so I thought we should cover another topic that we recorded at a later date, just to make sure our listeners get all the content they deserve.
DEVON: I really like that idea. I hope that it’s also about a cute adorable fuzzy creature and it has some good stories that I can tell people about, because I’ve told so many people about beavers being dropped over Idaho since we recorded that episode.
LIZ: **laughing** It’s the best, because it has it all in the name…
LIZ: …which also made it a very short episode.
LIZ: The creature I want to tell you about, Devon, is cute? Adorable… not fuzzy.
DEVON: So it’s me.
LIZ: I’m sorry. Two outta three ain’t bad.
DEVON: **laughing** No, it isn’t.
LIZ: I’m gonna tell you about the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.
DEVON: **delighted gasp** What is that?
LIZ: Octopus paxarbolus…
DEVON: What is that?!
LIZ: It lives in the Olympic peninsula – you’ve never seen one of these?
DEVON: I’ve never seen one of these. I’ve spent a lot of time here!
LIZ: You can’t keep it together!
DEVON: Okay, I’m calm. No, I’ve never seen one. I’ve never seen one over here.
LIZ: Okay, well, they don’t live in the water. They live in the trees, hence the name.
LIZ: Yeah. So when they’re born, they live in the water, but as soon as they become adults they come out and they live in the rainforest, and because they’re adapted to it, they can live outside the water and they’re the only octopi? Octopodes? Octopuses?
DEVON: I think octopuses.
LIZ: --that can do that!
DEVON: No way. Dude, no way.
LIZ: They’re really intelligent!
DEVON: Well, I mean, cephalopods are known for being really intelligent, which is great, but the fact that these have evolved to climb trees? Like, that’s even smarter than a normal octopus, because that means you get the best of a watery world and a tree world.
LIZ: Right, well, if you think about the way a octopus is laid out, too, it makes sense. Like, they’re probably really good at climbing. They are the sloths of the water.
DEVON: Oh, they have to be.
LIZ: Or… monkeys or something like that. No, they’re cool in a lot of ways, too. So, this-- This gives them access to a whole new ecosystem as omnivores—
LIZ: --so they can get an egg, or they can eat bugs as they climb around.
LIZ: They have really good eyesight, and they actually change color, not like a mimic octopus does in order to conceal itself so much as to, this is how they show emotion and what’s going on with them—
LIZ: --is that they’re very social—
DEVON: Wait, they live in groups in the rainforest, and I have not seen one yet?
LIZ: Well, they—every year in spring, they go back to the Hood Canal area, and they congregate and they find mates, and that’s when they make their egg clusters—
LIZ: --and the female guards it and cares for it.
LIZ: But probably why you haven’t seen them is they’re severely endangered.
DEVON: **sad sound* Ohhh.
LIZ: It’s not as happy a story as the beaver story, right? Because there’s a lot of logging going on, there’s—it’s hard for them to cross the road, cuz they’re so little, and damp—
DEVON: Oh, right. Oh, they’re so wet.
DEVON: They stick to everything.
LIZ: They do. And their natural predators are really taking out the ones that are left, including the Sasquatch, which is a huge natural predator of the Pacific Tree Octopus.
DEVON: **laughing** Just stomping around with his big feet. Oh, well, so… do Sasquatch then, they eat calamari? Is that what you’re telling me?
LIZ: Yeah, just raw! Just raw, and it’s really hard really hard on the Pacific Tree Octopus, cuz they have this major threat of being a completely fictional creature.
LIZ: Thank you for playing along with me.
DEVON: I lost it so many times!
LIZ: I wonder how many people are gonna tweet at us before they get four minutes into this.
DEVON: Before they get to the end of it – oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness Liz, I’m so excited. I’m just so excited.
LIZ: I felt like that was about as far as I could keep it together.
DEVON: Yeah, yeah.
LIZ: Yeah. This is a internet hoax that’s from the late 90s. There’s this guy named Lyle Zapato, who—
LIZ: --came up with all this, and so if you search the Pacific Tree Octopus, you find some fairly plausible looking sites.
LIZ: And they, uh—they use it a lot in internet literacy classes because they’re trying to teach, like, seventh graders how to critically evaluate what you see on the internet. And not—Devon, did you know? Sometimes people lie on the internet.
DEVON: What? Like you just did, just now?
LIZ: Oh my God, I’m part of the problem.
DEVON: God, you are part of the problem.
DEVON: Every now and then, people lie on the internet. Do we call them alternative facts, or are you just gonna go balls-out and say it’s a lie?
LIZ: I’m just gonna say it’s a lie. It’s an untruth, it’s a falsehood.
DEVON: It’s a falsehood.
LIZ: And you can even get stuff like what I was reading past some people, even if you say that their predators are things like Sasquatch.
DEVON: **heavy sigh**
LIZ: People don’t read! I’ve noticed this! I’m an educator, and honestly, people don’t read what you give them sometimes. One semester –and I’m not gonna get in trouble saying this, because if any students listen to this, then they’ll have listened to my podcast. Good, you get an A plus –
DEVON: You get an A plus, kid.
LIZ: I put a secret part in my syllabus in the Academic Honesty section about if they had read that far, I told them, “okay, just e-mail me and tell me that you read that far, and I’ll give you some extra credit points.”
DEVON: That’s incredible. How many students did you get an e-mail from?
LIZ: …maybe ten percent.
DEVON: Oh, damn.
LIZ: I think I also made them do, like, a very short quiz. Like a four-question thing that was already online, so it was just like click, click, click, ridiculously easy. Not to say that 90% of them didn’t read that far, I’m sure there was some component of them who looked at it and were like “heh, no. Life’s too short.”
DEVON: **laughing** All right.
LIZ: But our research standards for this podcast are… better than some? But fundamentally you and I are not biologists or geologists or conservation officers—
LIZ: I think we do our best. But I wanted to throw in the Pacific Tree Octopus and I was having a hard time figuring out how to do it, because I knew you already knew it wasn’t real.
DEVON: Yeah, but I’m willing to pretend I can act.
LIZ: Thank you for playing along, you’re a very good actress.
DEVON: You’re very welcome. Can I tell you my one octopus story that I have? It’s not the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, it’s just a regular run-of-the-mill, you know, Pacific Octopus.
LIZ: Devon, there’s no such thing as a run-of-the-mill octopus.
DEVON: Bless your heart.
LIZ: They’re all amazing. And delicious.
DEVON: You’re so gross, I can’t believe you eat them. They’re like rubber bands. Salty rubber bands.
LIZ: Mmm, get at me.
DEVON: And I can get those for free. **laughing** Gross.
LIZ: Tell me your octopus story.
DEVON: Well, we learned about this in museum school. There was a.. you know, when you’re in museum school, you also learn about aquariums and zoos and stuff that has live collections.
LIZ: I mean of course, because you made museum school up. I’m sure you learned about ponies and fairies and stuff.
DEVON: **laughing** Actually, I did, because I went to elf school in Iceland with a bunch of my museum people! And I have a textbook from elf school and it talks about fairies, and it talks about Icelandic ponies. So clearly, you went to this same class and you got this same textbook.
LIZ: Oh, Icelandic ponies are real, actually, I’ve ridden them.
LIZ: It’s true! They have a special pace in between a walk and a trot, it’s called toelting. I bet you didn’t know I knew so much about Iceland ponies.
DEVON: **through laughter** I had no idea! I don’t even know enough—I don’t have the wherewithal to refute that argument, or that statement. I have no idea. I’m going to tell you my octopus story, which I learned in museum school, which I did not make up – or if I did, I gamed myself, because I paid a fuck-ton of money to go to museum school.
DEVON: There was an aquarium we learned about that had a problem, and the problem was that some of their exotic fish were going missing every evening. They’d have ten fish, they’d lock up the museum, they’d come back the next day and there’d be three fish and they’d go “What the fuck is happening to our fish?” So the folks at the museum got really conspiracy theorist, you know, they thought there were, um, workers in the museum that must be selling these fish to exotic fish breeders—
LIZ: Oh, yeah.
DEVON: Or, you know, the janitor had a saltwater tank at home that he was stocking with his own, you know, ill-got fish from the museum. So they put up cameras, and what they found out is their Giant Pacific Octopus figured out how to get itself out of a two-inch hole in its tank—
DEVON: --and it—I love criminy, you’re from 1920s England—
LIZ: This is what happens when you have a kid, all of a sudden “jeepers creepers” is what’s coming out of your mouth.
DEVON: Cheese and rice!
LIZ: Cheese and rice!
DEVON: Anyway, this octopus was getting out of this tiny little crack – jeepers – and was climbing out of his tank at night, helping himself to whatever fish he wanted to eat, and you know, arming himself back across the floor and back into his tank before the keepers came back in the morning.
LIZ: That’s amazing.
DEVON: How cool is that?
LIZ: He was like, “I cannot sit in this tank all day watching the buffet and not help myself when you’re not looking.”
DEVON: Oh no, that’s just torturous, that’s mean.
LIZ: They are really smart. The one in the National Aquarium, they actually put baby toys in with it, so it has something to play with.
DEVON: I love the Seattle Aquarium because they catch their giant octopus off of the coast – I mean, they catch them here locally and they have them on display for six months before releasing them. If you keep them any longer, they’re so smart that they get depressed.
DEVON: So the Seattle Aquarium takes great pains to make sure that they have them long enough so that they inspire conservation activities in visitors, and then they let them go back to being octopuses in the wild.
LIZ: This is 100% what it would sound like if aliens had a podcast and they were discussing humans.
LIZ: They’re like, “you scoop ‘em up and after like, a week, they’re—they’re really smart, you wouldn’t believe it but they’re really smart, and they get depressed, and you have to go put them back in the grass field you found them in.”
DEVON: Man, if they only did that instead of mutilating our cattle—
DEVON: What a world.
LIZ: **laughing** I mean, if they gave you some toys and stuff, it wouldn’t be so bad.
DEVON: Dude, if they-- Okay, they’re feeding me? They’re giving me great medical care, I have a tank to myself.. At the Seattle Aquarium, every Valentine’s Day, they put the male and female together to see if they’ll make some babies. Um, yeah. So it sounds like a really good deal. Sign me up.
LIZ: **laughing** Excellent. All right, I’m going to have us do an outro just to help me edit it all together when we get there.
LIZ: So, let’s see. You’ve been—
DEVON: You’ve been listening—
LIZ: Ah! **laughing**
DEVON: Sorry! I was going to take the initiative and do it for you.
LIZ: I way overreacted to that!
DEVON: **laughing** No, that was an appropriate reaction to me actually doing some damn work.
LIZ: **laughing** Okay, you take it.
DEVON: All right. You’ve been listening to Ouija Broads. This is Devon.
LIZ: …this is Liz.
DEVON: And we—ah ha ha, wait, what the hell am I doing? I did an intro, didn’t I?
LIZ: That’s okay, I’m just gonna tell them—
DEVON: Go for it.
LIZ: You can find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at Ouija Broads. Please rate, review, and subscribe if you’re a fan of the show, and keep your eyes on our social media where we’re gonna be sharing information about giveaways and swag.
DEVON: We will!
LIZ: Can I say swag, or am I too old?
DEVON: You can say swag, cuz you have swag.
LIZ: Thank you.
DEVON: Thank you.
LIZ: Live weird…
DEVON: …die weird…
LIZ: …stay weird.
LIZ (fading out): Okay, let’s stop and save this…
Theme music (The House is Haunted) plays and fades out.