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Where to buy

All three of my novels can be found at this site, which supports local bookstores.

Lost in Waste is available here. In the near future, Iowa succumbs to authoritarian rule. Fortunately, it’s a comedy.

It and all of my novels are available in Pella at the college spirit shop. It’s right off Broadway near Broadway and Peace. (Click for link.) They and other faculty books are kind of hard to find … in a crate and displayed near the floor…so you might need to ask at the desk. On the plus side, no tax and they’re sold at a discount.

Natural Attraction is sold at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines, Iowa (signed copies!) and The Spirit Shoppe in Pella, Iowa.

Cleaner, Greener Labs is self-published and sold here.

Mixed In, a comic dystopia set in the near future United States from City Owl Press. When passions are regulated, which laws will you break? Buy here:

 Amazon US

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Mixed in is also available at Beaverdale Books (DSM) and The Central College Spirit Shoppe in Pella, Iowa.

Click here for Wolves and Deer 

or here for the paperback.

Click here for Nook.

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Or enjoy the first chapter here.

It’s also available at the Spirit Shoppe in Pella. Thank you for your interest!

New book coming!

I had Book Three of my Unstable States Series accepted for publication.

This book picks up shortly after Lost in Waste (City Owl 2020) and about thirty years after Mixed In (City Owl 2017). Like other books in the series, it’s a comic dystopia and political satire with lots of romance, female friendships, and science. This novel will allow the series to stand alone as complete and be sold as such, but also leaves room for it to be expanded if sales are good. I’ve been reading that people have a new interest in dystopian novels. Here’s hoping.

It’s 84,000 words, level 4 heat with a few sensual scenes along with sexy technical discussions as found in the (fictional) contraband book Virginia Guru’s How to Guide to Human Sexual Response. I’m happy to say that the same editor for Lost in Waste (Christie Stratos) will be working with me on this one.

Here’s what it’s about:

Food developer Stella would like nothing better than to have a lab partner to help her create new synthetic products and share the passions of science. But her nation of Cochtonia has gone off the deep end. Fertility rates are dropping and the leaders have decided to turn to alchemy to produce offspring. Sir Isaac Newton has been resurrected from the dead to take a lead role in the impossible task, ordered by the autocratic rulers of the nation. He’s to work as a team to create a homunculus, a tiny person, made outside of a womb. Women won’t be needed at all! Newton isn’t a fan of women, but he’s even less impressed by the absurd society ruled by Cochton Brothers who have never understood science, only profited from it. When Stella offers to help him fake results to save his neck, he’s willing. Is Newton the real thing, or an imposter? As she joins league with him, Stella has to wonder. But as they proceed with the deception, does she even care?

I submitted these two tag lines for consideration. The publisher always has the final word but do you have a favorite?

It’s as if the Enlightenment never happened.

History had him all wrong. He wasn’t a recluse who hated women. He was the sexiest man ever born.

I’m excited to have this novel done. I pushed through despite the pandemic. I like it and hope you will, too.

Prune Pies, Plums, & Meme-worthy Poems

“Forgive me

they were delicious”

A while back, a reader asked about a prune whip pie. Her mother had made these long ago and she was searching for the recipe. I’d never heard of such a thing–pie from prunes. Why? Fortunately, I was able to find a copy of Farm Journal Complete Pie Cookbook (1965). I sold these, classic at the time, when I was in Future Farmers of America–my attempt to understand my new culture of Iowa. I also learned I did not want to raise animals–they are too much work and die too young–but I was darn good at selling these cook books. And, lo and behold, I found several prune pie recipes in my stained old copy.

The cookbook explained, and I should have guessed as much, how country folks had a “snow cupboard” filled with dried fruit, sugar, flour, and lard. If roads became impassable, snow cupboards held plenty of ingredients for dried fruit pies. Pies were shallow and round to literally cut corners and use less ingredients. Who knew!

Although raisins were the most popular fruit in this type of pie, the trusty cookbook had several entries using prunes. The closest to “Prune Whip” is this meringue pie.

Prune Meringue Pie

Bake 8″ pie shell

1 c. sugar

1/4 c. cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

1 c. boiling water

2 eggs, separated

1 tblsp lemon juice

2 tsp grated lemon peel

2 tbsp butter or margerine

1 c cooked pitted prunes, drained

Meringue ( 2 egg whites)

Combine salr, sugar, water, and cornstarch. Stir in boiling water. Cook over direct heat until mixutre thickens and boild, stirring constantly.

Place in double boiler and cook 10 minutes. Beat egg yolks slightly and pour in half of the above mixture gradually. Then pour this into the rest of the mixture and cook for five minutes.

Remove form heat and add lemon juice, peel, and butter.Cool.

Arrange prunes in the cool pie shell.

Pour lemon mixture over the prunes.

Prepare meringue* and top pie with this.

*for 8 inch pie. Add another egg for 9 inch pie

2or 3 egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tarter

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 c. sugar

Place egg whites, cream of tarter, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl at room temperature. Beat at medium speed until frothy but not stiff.

Add sugar a little at a time while beating. Beat until little peaks form and meringue is not grainy.

Put meringue around the edge of the filled pie, making sure to touch the crust to seal. Pile the remainder in the center of the pie and spread.Make sure filling is covered completely.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes util top is browned. Cool.

I have not made this. Perhaps adding cool whip (not baked) could substitute for the meringue step .

Although generally regarded as humble, prunes and plums contain plenty of fiber, potassium, and magnesium. Prunes are made from a special variety of plum which dry into the characteristic dark shriveled mass. They can keep you regular and even promote bone health. I once tried the recommended bone health diet but since it requires eating five prunes or even ten prunes a day, I quickly abandoned it. Plum trees are hardy, early bloomers and represent strength and endurance, but my endurance with the prune diet had its limits and an early end.

Plums aren’t just for prunes. Who can forget the famous and even meme-worthy 1934 ode to plums and efficiency of style written by William Carlos Williams. Here it is:

This is Just to Say

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

Speaking of iceboxes, there is a whole category of “icebox pies”. This pumpkin one looks wonderful. But of course, these will need to be saved for a different blog.

Looking for a pie recipe from the past? Drop me a line.

Mask up against Authoritarian Rule: A checklist

I like to say that my dystopian satire series Unstable States is a cross between Idiocracy and The Handmaid’s Tale. Both titles are older and well-established views of a society gone off the rails. Idiocracy is itself a satire and although a friend argued with me about it, Handmaid’s Tale and the lack of female bodily autonomy seemed as if it could come true. It was true after all, in my mother’s lifetime and for those before her. And now here, or so it seems.

We’ve all read about repressive societies, fictional and otherwise. But what traits should we be looking for? For my satire, I incorporated my own Puritanically influenced upbringing and the early 1900s and post 9-11. And yes, Iowa’s growing pollution problem and governor were factors.

What if these influences had become autocracy? How would we even know? I turned to Political Science professor Jim Zaffiro for advice. He came up with some ideas.

Authoritarian Societies have these traits:

1.Marked by brain drain, hostility to truth tellers & intellectuals.

2. Leaders are elevated into masterminds to save the nation.

3. Information is censored and tightly controlled, so that the masses hear only or mostly the official interpretations of things.

4. Exploitation of invented outside or internal threats to justify suspension of civil liberties; often involves scapegoating undesirable groups, by race, religion, ethnicity, or foreign origin.

5. Tight control of other organs of government, including political parties, judiciary, and legislative.

6. Use of illegal methods or flaunting existing laws and norms in the name of security.

 7. Elevation of regime and leader survival over all else, leading to constitutional changes and rigged elections.

8.Use of neopatrimonialism to create sub-bosses totally loyal to the supreme leader who rewards them with patronage. (As seen in privatization schemes).

Other sources have similar lists including:

9. Sexism.

10. Hostility to intellectualism and the arts

11. Hostility to labor and labor unions. Protection of corporate power.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment

13. Insisting on titles such as Sir.

One problem with examining society and deciding if it is authoritarian or not is this: even egalitarian societies have rules and regulations. NO RULES! is not the mark of freedom. Ask yourself who do the rules benefit?

Inequality spreads much more easily than equality. Creating an egalitarian society where all people have equal opportunities, are not dominated, and may even punish alpha behaviors, isn’t easy. Authoritarianism is like germs in a sneeze. It may not be stable, but it spreads easily. We all need to recognize it for what it is and mask up. You don’t want to catch it. Hopefully here in Iowa we haven’t already.

How bad are moldy ears?

I did something I rarely do this past July–I bought shucked sweet corn. The reason I did this is because I got a dozen ears of un-shucked corn and one ear had some mold on the end. I decided I didn’t want to take a chance of getting moldy ears again. I had to see what I was getting. The question is, how dangerous is corn mold? Well, it depends on the mold.

Mold spores are always on the look-out for a nice place to grow. Mold can travel down the corn silk and attack corn during fertilization, it can enter through cracks in the kernel, or it can grow on the forage products (leaves and such fed to animals), Mold floats about looking for food and moisture, growing where it lands if these are present. July through fall is a prime time for mold to spread and grow.

Corn mold is a tricky thing. Some types are considered a delicacy. Some can cause allergies, and a lot of them generate toxins called mycotoxins.

Mycotoxins are poisons produced by mold that grows on grains and nuts. They cause everything from cancer to kidney problems, to digestive upset, miscarriages and stillbirths, to hallucinations. Moldy rye has been connected to the Salem witch trials and in some cases, plagues of dancing called St. Vitus Dance.

Mycotoxins infect 25% of world’s crops including coffee and beer and make them unfit for consumption. Thank goodness they are regulated as part of our food safety regulations. Detecting them is tricky. A black light can be used to see if they are present but it isn’t definitive proof of them. Lots of things glow under a black light and are not mycotoxins. It takes a time consuming test to prove they are present. You can read much more here.

There are all sorts of corn rots and mold and here are some examples. All of these types of rotting corn should not be fed to animals.

More photos here.

And here,

Particularly dangerous and damaging is Aflatoxin produced by the pervasive Aspergillus mold. It can infect nearly any grain product and was first noted in 1961 when it killed over 100,000 turkeys in England after it infected their peanut-based food. Aflatoxin in dog food recently sickened many pets.

Aflatoxin grows on stressed corn, particularly corn exposed to drought and heat. It is likely to be worst in years with a hot (over 91 degrees F or 30 C), dry June because corn produces its silks in June and the mold travels down the silks and gets in the corn. It can also infect grain bins if they are not kept clean and dry. Once in the feed corn, the aflatoxin can’t easily be removed. It can get in the milk of dairy cows fed the moldy grain. Elevated carbon dioxide levels as found with climate change spur its growth and this is another reason scientists worry about our hotter weather.

Looking back, I don’t think my corn had aflatoxin. On the other hand, I’m glad I didn’t eat it. This is one of the many reasons I support robust food safety regulations and don’t eat moldy ears.

Probably no corn today is as bad looking as this ear from 1934, but believe it or not, drought can cause mold in corn.(Taken at Pella Historical Village.)

Danger–shrinkage ahead

We all need help with our hippocampus. Once we reach adulthood (as in 20), it shrinks. By the time a person reaches 70-years old, there’s an 80% chance that changes in the hippocampus will affect memory and learning.

When I reach 70, will it be the end of the line for my brain?

This area deep inside our brain is more sensitive than the princess and the pea. Head injury, stress, inflammation, hypertension, and viruses can damage it. We need this part of our brain for learning and memory. Loss of hippocampus mass is associated with Alzheimer’s and with depression. It rests near the olfactory bulb which means lack of taste or smell, as with covid-19, can be a sign of harm.

Although there are some things I’d like to forget, I rely on my hippocampus for my livelihood and keeping it big is important for my future. Imagine my alarm when two studies came out recently pointing to factors that contribute to shrinking it.

One linked shrinkage to bad diet. Consumption of roast meat, sausages, hamburgers, steak, chips, crackers, and soft drinks shrank the left hippocampus, even if the indulgences were short term. Mind you, I read this at the end of birthday month in our household–July–when we have five events spread over fifteen days, accompanied by plenty of cake, grilling, & celebrating Better Made’s anniversary.

The second hypothesized that too much coffee (6 cups or more) shrinks your brain and can cause dementia. I don’t drink six cups of coffee, I drink two at the most. But they aren’t small cups nor is the coffee weak. Seventy and beyond could be bleak for me. Is there any hope?

What helps your brain ward off the ravages of time and place? One answer is flavonoids.There are six different categories of these plant molecules and eating from every category is recommended. You’ll need to load up on tea, red wine/grape juice, chocolate, citrus fruits, parsley, berries, soy, and other good stuff as outlined in the link.

Peppers are a source of a type of flavonoid called flavone but when it comes to flavones, capers, parsley and oregano knock it out of the park. Parsley also has plenty of flavonols. source here.

Exercise can stave off shrinkage or possibly even build new brain bulk. Likewise, sexual activity has been associated with brain growth in this area, at least in rats.

Chronic stress attacks the brain chemically, and this can explain why PTSD is so damaging. Childhood poverty and stressful events, especially before age 8, shrink the hippocampus and have been related to life-long learning problems.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5253253/) Avoiding stress is an important factor in brain health and highlights the need for anti-poverty programs.

It’s uncertain if the brain can regrow itself but new connections are made when we learn or teach new things, even non-academic skills such as as quilting, gaming, and photoshop.

These studies have implications for education and for daily living. Exercise, enough sleep, and healthy meals along with less stress and no cramming facilitate learning. Taking breaks and spacing out tasks is a brain-healthy approach to learning and to chores in general. Apparently, no pain no gain doesn’t apply to the brain.

To save your brain, forget the extra coffee and the meth. Take a break. Enjoy a new skill–no pressure. And don’t forget the parsley.

To wash or not to wash

Hygiene is a relatively new idea in the Western world. An early recognition of the benefits of washing came in the 1840s when doctors noted that hand washing could reduce childbirth fever. The idea of “germs” had been kicked around for several centuries, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that Pasteur proved, through a series of experiments, that germs were transmitted from one source to another. The previous idea was that they and things such as flies arose spontaneously. In 1865, Lister developed the idea of antiseptics, and in 1890, the country doctor Robert Koch came up with his postulates to prove the cause of disease. There was initial push back to germ theory –people didn’t want to be held responsible for making others sick. Even when germs were accepted, hygiene was regarded by some as “for sissies.” By the mid 1950s, films such as this one with Soapy, a somewhat haunted bar of soap, spread the gospel about hygiene. At last, people knew enough to keep clean. Now, the idea of frequent cleaning is being debated.

When I heard about the movement to not wash your hair, the no-poo movement, I knew it wasn’t for me. My hair is too fine and being a teacher and around a lot of people, most of whom tower over me since I’m 5′ 1″, their invisible pathogens fall on my head throughout the day. To be safe, I wash my hair every night, at least during the week. But is this over-kill? Do germs stick on your hair? The answer to this question is: Yes. But.

A study done by several researchers in Singapore, including some from Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore, with the title “Bacteria Display Differential Growth and Adhesion Characteristics on Human Hair Shafts” says that some bacteria cling to your hair while others simply sit on it.

They “showed the colonization and adherence of E. coli and P. aeruginosa on hair shafts, where P. aeruginosa, which tends to not be too dangerous to people with normal immune systems, was one bacteria that stuck to hair, formed a biofilm

E. coli inhabited only the edges of the cuticle scales..this study demonstrate(d) significant antibacterial effects of human hair shafts.”

Bottom line, yes germs stick to your hair but your hair can fight them off to an extent. Hair-derived antimicrobial proteins or peptides have been identified in hair shafts (Adav et al., 2018; Subbaiah et al., 2018).

Shampoo washes away germs on hair. However, grease from your hair can also kill germs. A threat may come from hairbrushes, which have been shown to contain fungal spores ( March 31, 2021, Infection and Drug Resistance)

How often should you wash your hair? It depends on the hair! It’s okay to wash it every day if it is fine because fine hair collects sebum more rapidly. Curly hair uses the sebum to make the curl so once a week can work for curly locks. African hair can go a week or two without washing. However, hair can trap pollen. Allergies can create the need to wash or rinse your hair more often.

Likewise, you should wash more often if you smoke or work with pesticides or other toxins.

What about beards? Beards are very germy and possibly a symbol of White Supremacy and anti-femininism. Beards need to be washed and brushed several times a week to remain sanitary. Wiggling a beard beneath a facial mask can release bacteria. However, having a beard doesn’t seem to be associated with being more sickly. Beards fall in the category of possibly being more of a danger to others. Beards haven’t been studied a lot.

Last but not least, there is the question of pubic hair–it is a natural cushion which will prevent STDs or is it germy and teaming with pheromones? Believe it or not, how this area is treated differs geographically. An interesting thing about pubic hair is that each person has a unique bacterial combination in this spot, with cohabiting couples sharing bacteria. However, like head hair, washed pubes are not overly germy. In fact, lack of pubic hair has been associated with a higher frequency of genital warts, herpes, and papillomavirus (HPV). However, you can and do give your mostly harmless germs to another via pube touching.

What happens when a person doesn’t bathe or shower regularly? A skin condition including a painful rash, can develop from bacteria, dead skin cells, and wax. Do you need to wash every day? No. A short shower every other day can work.

Of course, numerous diseases are spread by unclean hands. Even harmless bacteria can cause a nasty infection under certain situations, including entering a wound. As with pubic hair, each person has their own bacterial skin colonies and too much washing can damage skin and make way for new, less desirable bacteria. However, washing is necessary to remove bacteria from the skin. As with hair, some leeway depending on the situation is advised. Also along the same lines as the hair brush study, towels can be a source of bacteria and should be washed every two days.

Anyone with acne has probably been told that it is caused by bacteria and this is true. However, beneficial bacteria can help fight acne. Over-washing your face removes helpful bacteria and oils. Studies have found that products containing aforementioned lactobacillus (a type of bacteria usually found in yogurt) are effective in treating acne. Probiotic acne medication is being developed. Some companies are looking into probiotic make up. The problem with the later is that make-up itself can harbor germs and adding anything to help stop dangerous germs will also kill the probiotics. And, it’s not been proven that makeup with probiotics helps skin. Probably your best bet for giving your skin a boost of good bacteria is a yogurt face mask, which could increase moisture and elasticity.

Above: before and after a yogurt treatment on an over-washed hand

We each carry around our own little cloud of bacteria, controlled by our own natural antimicrobials. In fact, our bacterial cells outnumber our human cells by 10:1! Hygiene is needed to prevent invasion from outside germs, but we need to be aware that over-washing can stress our clouds and our skin and hair. However, other people might not always want to smell your cloud and they might not want to share your bacteria, so do wash when needed.

Three germs on dirty cloud of bad smell. Each of us carries around our own cloud of bacteria, some helpful and some not.

Want a little Red 40 with your Pretzel Salad?

Dig in. It’s only Red 40.

Mixed In takes place in Cochtonia, a city-state with futuristic technology and mid 20th Century mannerisms. This recipe is adapted from one in my Granny’s church cook-book (1987) which includes an abundance of Jello recipes. Although Jello seems lowly today, it’s a modern version of collagen rich aspic, used in aristocratic dishes of the past. Intricate layering was a part of aspic and Jello culture. You’ll find this recipe mentioned in Mixed In.

I’ll be honest. I bought things I didn’t know (or had forgotten) existed for this recipe.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Crust

Combine 2.5 cups of crushed pretzels

1.5 sticks of melted margarine

3 tablespoons sugar

Pour into a 9 x 13-inch pan

Bake for 10 minutes at 350o F

Cool.

Second layer

1 envelope Dream Whip, whipped with ½ cup cold milk and ½ tsp vanilla.

8-oz package of cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

Mix together the above ingredients and pour on cooled crust.

Top layer

1 6-oz box of strawberry Jello

3 cups boiling water

14 oz sliced frozen strawberries

Dissolve Jello in boiling water. Add frozen strawberries. Stir. Cool until slightly thickened. Pour this layer on cream cheese layer.

If desired, mix a half cup crushed pretzels with ½ stick of margarine and 1 tsp sugar, bake for ten minutes at 350o. Cool and use as a topping. Refrigerate for several hours or over night before serving.

Author’s note:

One question a person might ask about such a dish, which is delightfully sweet and salty, smooth and crunchy is: how dangerous is the red 40 dye that gives it the festive color? The answer is: it depends on who you are.

An article in Environmental Health Perspectives; Vol. 120, Iss. 1,  (Jan 2012): 1-5 noted that in a 1994 study in which children were fed placebos or capsules containing large amounts of dye some but not all “children displayed a clear dose-response function, with the higher doses eliciting higher scores on their 30-item behavior inventory, including five clusters of related behaviors: a) irritability/control, b) sleep disturbances, c) restlessness, d) aggression, and e) attention span.” In other words, some kids reacted poorly to the dyes, others did not. Yellow dye (tartrazine) appeared to have the most consistent negative effect. It didn’t seem to matter if the children were diagnosed with ADHD or not. Some kids had adverse reactions to high concentrations of dyes but many were unaffected.

 A more recent article ( J.Agric. Food Chem. 2017, 65, 12, 2588–2593:March 7, 2017) states that people who have elevated Red 40 in their urine often have high blood pressure.

Additionally, the dye has been associated with colon DNA damage in mice. (Journal of Toxicological Sciences (2010), 35 (4), 547-554CODEN: JTSCDR; ISSN:0388-1350. (Japanese Society of Toxicology))

Another study found that bacteria in your intestines can degrade Red 40 and turn it into a substance that can damage DNA and other chemicals that are be both toxic and carcinogenic. ( Journal of Pure and Applied Microbiology(Vol. 10, Issue 4) 2016) It’s thought this occurs to a greater extent in infants and children.

There aren’t an overwhelming number of studies showing the harmful effects of Red 40. Despite this, Nigeria, Switzerland, Canada and countries of the European Union as Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria and Norway have either banned Red 40 or added warning labels for the reasons mentioned above. 

When you think about it, does Jello have to be brightly colored? Wouldn’t it taste as sweet without the red dye? I’m not going to ban Red 40 from my diet. On the other hand, I’m not going to have a second helping.

Can volcanos ruin your summer?

In 1816, the year Dora Jordan died, Europe and most of North America seemed to be cursed. It was the year without a summer. The skies were overcast. Frost and even snow was common. Yes, it snowed in New England on 4th of July. Crops failed. Because of crop failures, horses, the main source of transportation, were expensive to feed. It’s believed this gave rise to the invention of the bicycle. Mary Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein and the Gothic era of fiction took off. What gave rise to all this gloom and doom? The eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia the previous year.

The explosion knocked 4,000 feet of stone and rock from the top of the volcano. Ten thousand residents were killed immediately and 90,000 later starved.

In repose for thousands of years, the volcano began rumbling in early April of 1815. Soldiers hundreds of miles away on Java, thinking they heard cannon fire, went looking for a battle. Then, on April 10, came the volcano’s terrible finale: three columns of fire shot from the mountain, and a plume of smoke and gas reached 25 miles into the atmosphere. Fire-generated winds uprooted trees. Pyroclastic flows, or incandescent ash, poured down the slopes at more than 100 miles an hour, destroying everything in their paths and boiling and hissing into the sea 25 miles away. Huge floating rafts of pumice trapped ships at harbor.

Throughout the region, ash rained down for weeks. Houses hundreds of miles from the mountain collapsed under the debris. Sources of fresh water, always scarce, became contaminated. Crops and forests died….The major eruptions ended in mid-July, but Tambora’s ejecta would have profound, enduring effects. Great quantities of sulfurous gas from the volcano mixed with water vapor in the air. Propelled by stratospheric winds, a haze of sulfuric acid aerosol, ash and dust circled the earth and blocked sunlight.

The particles from the eruption settled and life returned to normal for the survivors. But this isn’t the only example of volcanos messing with life on earth.

A series of volcanic eruptions, beginning in 1256 and lasting until 1455, probably created the Little Ice Age. An abundant formation of polar ice kept the northern hemisphere cold until 1860. In other words, 1816 was a cold era, created by volcanos, made much colder by another volcano.

Long robes, hats–it’s damn cold in the 1500s! (Photo is a portrait of the alchemist Paracelsus)

More recently, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 created a cooling effect which lasted for three years.

Numerous volcanos are erupting right now with the most dangerous one being Nyiragongo in the Congo.

You can view a map of erupting volcanos.

So, if people ask you why it is so cold today even if we have global warming, there are plenty of good answers but if you want a simplistic answer maybe it’s the volcanos.

Can a virus cause depression?

Thanks to my daughter and her cousin, who took it upon themselves to set up appointments for their loved ones, I have been fully immunized against COVID-19. I can’t say I had the kick ass response to Pfizer-dose-two that some have had. I haven’t had a fever or chills or fatigue. It’s been more of a slow burn. I feel as if I’ve been day drinking and the euphoria has worn off. My reaction has been lackadaisical.

Since I’m sitting here with an unusually lazy psychology, I got to wondering: can a virus cause depression? The answer is yes.

Numerous viral diseases have been associated with depression. The list is a long one but some known culprits are H1N1 and other influenzas, AIDS, polio, herpes, and hepatitis C. Chicken pox can lead to a long term inflammation of the area of the brain responsible for spinal sensations. It can also cause depression. The COVID-19 virus can reach the brain and has been linked with numerous mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, and even ADHD.

Additionally, your immune response can cause depressive symptoms. “Illnesses like the flu or the common cold can closely mimic and cause depressive symptoms by activating your immune response and inflammation in your body“.

Cytokines are small peptides, chains of amino-acids, that direct your immune response.

They can fight arthritis and cancer.

They initiate wound repair.

They even influence your sleep patterns.

Cytokines and brain inflammation have been linked with depression for at least ten years.

Our immune, neurologic, and psychological systems are closely intertwined. When there is a foreign invader in your body, like the influenza virus, your cells produce proinflammatory cytokines, non-antibody proteins that activate and organize your body’s immune response”

An immune response known as the cytokine storm can result in a harmful over-reaction which may cause, among other things kidney and liver failure, pneumonia, seizures, confusion, and a rash. (Click here for a diagram of all of the associated problems).Most COVID deaths were caused by the cytokine storm reaction.

Some research says that too much sugar and/or stress or a zinc deficiency will cause an over abundance of harmful cytokines. Exercise can help regulate their over production. The COVID pandemic has highlighted the need to explore this further.

One thing professionals predict is that, infected or not, we will all suffer a mass trauma. Those who had to work risky jobs through the pandemic, those who lost loved ones, the lonely, the incarcerated, and those who lost livelihood will all be affected. One by-product to avoid is seeking authoritarian rulers! Yes, trauma of any kind can cause people to seek out authoritarians or become authoritarian themselves. Let’s not go there. it will only make things worse. One solution is to remember the past year, perhaps with a national day of no-work, and to allow ourselves time to recover.

from the Detroit Institute of Arts (Diego Rivera)

A mean boss or authoritarian ruler will just make your cytokines over produce!

Notes from an old chemist:Common Suffixes Used with Nouns in Chemical Terminology

Long ago, when my chemical world was new, I had a wise teacher by the name of David Crichton. He was a stickler for proper terminology and one thing he passed along was the proper chemical suffixes. I can’t find this list elsewhere so I’m posting it here for the Good of The Order.

David Crichton

Common Suffixes Used with Nouns in Chemical Terminology

-ance, -ence: denotes a state, a condition, a quality of being

            Example: valence, conductance, resistance, absorbance

-ant, -ent: denotes a thing acting as an agent

            Example: precipitant, titrant, diluent, dissectant, eluent

-ate: denotes nouns made from participles (verb forms), something resulting from the action of

        the verb stem

            Example: precipitate, distillate, condensate, decantate, eluate, absorbate

-gram: denotes something drawn or written

            Example: polarogram, spectrogram, chromatogram

-meter: denotes an instrument for measuring some specified thing

            Example: thermometer, spectrometer, spectrophotometer, photometer, potentiometer

-or: denotes an agent or doer

            Example: desiccator, monochromator

-tion, -sion: denotes action, a process

Example: precipitation, distillation, condensation, dissociation, decantation, elution,

    adsorption

-ty, -cy: denotes a quality, a state, a condition

            Example: density, conductivity, resistivity, absorptivity, accuracy

-graph: denotes an instrument for making records

            Example: polarograph, spectrograph, chromatograph

Desiccant (the blue stuff) does the drying and it goes in a desiccator (the glass thing).