December 11th, 2019


Cuddle Party

Everyone needs contact comfort sometimes. Not everyone has ample opportunities for this in facetime. So here is a chance for a cuddle party in cyberspace. Virtual cuddling can help people feel better.

We have a cuddle room that comes with fort cushions, fort frames, sheets for draping, and a weighted blanket. A nest full of colorful egg pillows sits in one corner. There is a basket of grooming brushes, hairbrushes, and styling combs. A bin holds textured pillows. There is a big basket of craft supplies along with art markers, coloring pages, and blank paper. The kitchen has a popcorn machine. Labels are available to mark dietary needs, recipe ingredients, and level of spiciness. Here is the bathroom, open to everyone. There is a lawn tent and an outdoor hot tub. Bathers should post a sign for nude or clothed activity. Come snuggle up!

The Yule tree sparkles with lights and tinsel.  Cinnamon pinecones lie on the mantel.  All is merry and bright.

In honor of the season, I have brought
Clementine Holiday DuckMashed Yams with Halva, and Caramel Apple Cobbler.  Let the potlatch begin!

Grass Varieties

Mixing grass varieties can improve resistance to pests.  Well, duh.  Monocultures consistently perform worse than mixed ecosystems.  A huge patch of food always attracts pests and diseases.  Mixed ecosystems make it harder for those to spread and multiply.  If your lawn consists of only one plant, it will get eaten.  If it consists of many, even eating all of one thing will leave many other things.

Defrosting Worms

Scientists have defrosted and revived ancient worms frozen in permafrost.  While this is fascinating from a cryogenics perspective, I should like to point out that it could also release invasive species or diseases that the modern world cannot tolerate.  :/

Reading science news makes me wish that science fiction could be a required course in the training of scientists.  It would save us so many headaches.

Water from Muscles

Scientists have "discovered" that the body wrings water out of muscles when drinking water is scarce.  Well, duh.  That's why muscles cramp on a hot day as dehydration begins to set in.  It's a possible source of cramps when swimming for long periods in saltwater.  It's a cause of worse problems from long-term dehydration, as when migrant workers are forced to labor in hot sun without bathroom or drinking breaks.  We'll see a lot more of this as climate change progresses, but it's not new.

Survival tip: If you're working in hot conditions and you get cramps, stop and take a break.  Rest somewhere cool and shady.  Drink till you slosh.  Replace salts and minerals with a good sport drink, or make your own with water, fruit juice, and a pinch or two of mineral salt.  Take a multivitamin, as certain vitamin deficiencies also cause cramps.  If the cramps go away, you should be fine, just take more care in the future.  If the cramps do not go away, or get worse, you may have damaged your body and it would be prudent to seek medical care if it is available.  Make sure to tell the medics that you were working in the heat. 

And everyone should keep an eye on news about heat and water health issues, because those will become more urgent concerns in the future.  We'll probably learn a lot more about how those things can cripple or kill people as it happens more often, and how to ameliorate the damage.

Men and Women Use Tinder Differently

On Tinder, men are more interested in casual sex and women in validation of their attractiveness.  This is hardly a surprise.

It makes me wonder if other sex/gender configurations use Tinder, and if so, whether their usage patterns match men or women or neither.  Though the "sociosexual orientation" mentioned is really aromantic and/or nontractive.

Autism and Fevers

This study suggests a link between autism and fevers during pregnancy.  While there are many possible triggers, this is the first I've seen mentioned of fevers.

What snagged my attention is that this could be a temperature-related effect.  (It could also be triggered by immune response, but this seems less likely given that ibuprofen seemed to avoid it.)  If the trigger is activated by temperature, then higher environmental temperatures could produce the same outcome.  Environmental temperatures are rising; autism rates are rising.  This makes me wonder what autism rates would look like if mapped against global temperatures and the availability of air conditioning.

Then I wonder if people with autism are better, the same, or worse equipped to deal with environmental stressors such as excessive heat.  That is, could this be an adaptive response, or is it simply a result of high temperatures during pregnancy?

Another factor, not mentioned in the article, is that this could be a vaccine link that nobody's noticed yet.  Pregnant women are nagged to take vaccines, but the most common result of that is ... running a fever for several days as the body tries to kill it with fire.  If running a fever while pregnant can affect the baby, in this or other ways, then people might want to reconsider that advice or at least equip more informed consent regarding the pros and cons.  Not like medics give a flying fuck about informed consent, or women, but it's a nice fantasy.

"A Different Vision of Life" is now complete!

Thanks to a donation from [personal profile] technoshaman , [personal profile] fuzzyred , and [personal profile] ng_moonmoth you can now read the rest of "A Different Vision of Life" and its notes.  Griffin and Rumoroso get along really well.

And with this, the slate is clear!  We have no open epics heading into next week's Year-End Sale, so the slots are wide open in case anyone wants to open new ones rather than joining a pool.


Poem: "What Lies Within Us"

This poem is spillover from the December 3, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "nudging someone" square in my 9-5-19 card for the 1000 Words or Less Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] ng_moonmoth, [personal profile] fuzzyred, and [personal profile] technoshaman. It belongs to the Aquariana, Kraken, and Strange Family threads of the Polychrome Heroics series. It immediately precedes "Friendship Recipes."

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Poem: "Friendship Recipes"

This poem is spillover from the December 3, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "surprise" square in my 2-5-19 card for the [community profile] fluffbingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the Aquariana, Kraken, and Strange Family threads of the Polychrome Heroics series. It directly follows "What Lies Within Us," so read that first or this will make no sense.

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Chronic Pain Contributes to Dementia

This study links chronic pain with dementia

Among the more obvious reasons I can think of:

* Pain makes it harder to think clearly.  People who use their minds more vigorously tend to keep them in good shape.  People who can't are more prone to losses, just as they lose muscle mass if it hurts too much to move.

* Pain is isolating.  Other people often avoid those in pain, and someone who hurts all the time may not want company.  Unfortunately isolation correlates with depression and other mental issues that undermine how well the brain works.

* Most, though not all, chronic pain comes from a systemic body problem, such as arthritis.  Such problems tend to worsen health in general, not just the system where they manifest most visibly.

So that sucks, especially since pain and dementia are two things that modern medicine doesn't treat very effectively.  What's worse is that current culture is drastically reducing access to painkillers, which hits people with chronic pain hardest of all.

Vegetables and Attraction

Consuming fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids (yellow and orange colors) can improve attractiveness by changing skin tone.  This plays out across many species as these colors figure into mate selection.  Consider that a healthy diet tends to correlate with desirable factors such as physical fitness and active behavior.

However, I wonder how wide a racial range they used in the study.  If standard, it would be most or all white men.  (In another standard gaffe, they used only women judging only men.)  Is the effect stronger or weaker in Asians, with their tendency toward golden tones?  Is it muted in people with dark skin, where changes are difficult or impossible to see?  Does it look bad on people with cool porcelain tones?  Does it give the most bang-for-buck in the fair-to-slightly-toasted range of warm skin tones with lots of variability?

"Diet Food" Encourages Weight Gain

Many "diet foods" are low in fat but high in sugar (also salt and other tempting things) to encourage people to eat them.  This unbalanced diet promotes weight gain, not weight loss. 

Bear in mind that they're talking about a specific type of junk food, though, not a healthy diet which is relatively low in fat.  The average modern diet has a lot more fat (along with sugar and salt) than is necessarily needed.  Also, these are ultraprocessed foods, which as a whole category tend to promote weight gain and undermine health.  Such foods typically add lots of fat, sugar, and salt to make them addictive.  If the low-fat (or low-sugar, low-salt) foods you choose to eat are fruits, vegetables, and lean meats then you are probably much better off.  If you gather or garden at least some of your own food, so much the better, as that outdoor activity promotes health.

If you want to eat commercial foods designed for a certain diet, then read the labels very carefully.  A few of them actually are good.  I've seen some high-protein, high-fiber, low-carb, low-sugar, etc. products that are tasty and nutritious without a lot of crud in them.  But those are hard to find.

For most people, a balanced and varied diet with lots of fresh whole foods is the healthiest option.  For those with certain health complaints, cutting out foods that aggravate it (such as reducing sugar for diabetes) or increasing foods that relieve it (such as raising fiber for digestive issues) may help.  A problem is that few people have the time, money, energy, or access to such a diet.  We'd get better results by fixing the food supply than by nagging people, but nobody wants to do that.  Big Food is powerful; individual health clients are vulnerable, especially if caregivers withhold other necessary goods or services in order to coerce them to meet demands.