He also taught me an ingenious method for swatting flies. And while I don't know where he learned this method, or if he developed it himself (care to fill us in, Dad?), it works. Really well. Like, 98% of the time if you're in cooler climates. (When I was in Army training in Southern Arizona in the summer, I discovered it wasn't as effective at high temperature.)
Here's what you do:
1. Fly lands.If your aim, speed and hand-cuppage are on track, the fly will be caught in a concussive rush and will be knocked out. This allows you to avoid messy smashing. At this point, if you hate the idea of taking life, you can put the sweet little fly in a cup and take it outside. If you're like the rest of us, you can sweep it to the floor and step on it. Or hit it with a book.
2. Cup your striking hand and steadily move it into position some distance from the fly (at least one foot).
3. If you've done this correctly the fly will, the vast majority of the time, begin to clean it's filthy little legs and face.
4. Very slowly and steadily, move your hand down toward the fly.
5. The fly, at some point, will stop washing itself, and will quickly hunch down. At this point, your hand must stop and stay in that position. This is the space you have to work with.
6. The moment the fly begins washing again is your time to strike. Aim your hand at a place about a centimeter behind the fly, as flies take off by leaping backwards. Swat as quickly as possible.
Why am I bringing all this up? Well, NPR's Science Friday featured a story on Caltech bioengineer Michael Dickinson, and the research he's been doing with superfast video cameras on how flies operate. And, based on this video, NPR seems to be confirming with science what my dad knew many years ago. (Don't get used to it, Dad.)
(And for all you U2 fans who were disappointed this post wasn't about Bono, here's a little something just for you.)