Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Our skin is like the earth's crust, from the desert of our backs to the jungles of our darkest crevasses, we are home to many life forms. Diptheroids hate the air and live protected in our hair follicles, feeding off our oils and producing body odor and acne. Oil loving yeast are beautifully diverse, some round, bunched together like grapes on a vine, others short Twinkie-like rods, and still others running long and thin, curving and crisscrossing like roads on a map. We even have relatives of spiders living in the pores of our faces, eating away at our skin cells and coming out to mate as we sleep. But the cover girl of this world living on your skin is Staphylococcus.

Staphylococcus epidermis is the homely sister no one pays much attention to.  It lives on the inhospitable surface of the skin and can tolerate table salt. You've probably never heard of it. Staphylococcus aureus, named for its beautiful gold color, is the cover girl, with articles in countless magazines, stories on the news, and rumors of her exploits. Especially a tough little strain called by the acronym, MRSA.

Staphylococcus aureus lives in our noses and respiratory tracts. But sometimes it can enter our skin through a hair follicle and from there it can infect. Most follicle infections look like a red bump or a small pimple and disappear within a few days. Occasionally the hair must be pulled and the pus allowed to drain away before the infection ceases. But sometimes the infection will spread deeper, forming an abscess, which people commonly think is a spider bite.

Antibiotics treat general infections well, but an abscess, even if it isn't antibiotic resistant, is thick and protected. It is a bacterial castle and difficult to storm. If the body does not wall off the infection, it spread. The tissue, already inflamed, becomes hard as the invaders go deep. If they go deep enough, they join the bloodstream.

The Golden staph is a skilled army, stocked with the latest in technological weapons to destroy the body's defenses, kill our white blood cells, eat its way through the surrounding tissue, and adjust its vulnerabilities to the antibiotics we send to stop it. But usually it is simply there, living with all the other tiny things on your skin, not bothering you a bit, the cover girl at home with no make up on, going quietly through life, the neighbor you never notice.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Madness of Cats

The Madness of Cats

Cats are madness, aren't they? Little fur packets of madness and sunlight and darkness with dabs of anger and haughtiness thrown in. This is why they are irresistible.  The story of how cats came to be is much like the story of Eve being taken from Adam's rib.  Cats were taken from our madness, created out of emotions we wished we could hide or remove.  They sprang from us whole, created as we fell asleep one day.  But like Eve, who did not take all of Adam's ribs away, the cats did not remove those emotions.  They do not embody them.  It is simply where they were created from, and then they walked away.

The Madness of Dogs

Dogs are not mad.  They are the most sane creatures in the world, excepting cows.  Both need specific diseases to make them truly crazy.  Dogs understand the world better than we do.  They understand us better than we do.  Anytime you are unsure what to do, ask a dog.  Dogs will give you the wisest answers.

The Madness of Bees

You've probably been told that bees talk to each other in interpretive dance.  That they move side to side an up and down, telling all the other bees the exact locations of flowers.  This is mostly true.  But sometimes its just that they're teaching a zumba class.

The Madness of Humans

I'm sure you are expecting my rebuke of us, how we, with our wars and politics and policies, are the maddest creatures of all. But cats have us beat in the area of most madness considering they were created from madness (see above). And you probably already about our wars and politics and policies. You don't need me to tell them to you and if I did we would simply both nod and agree the human race is unutterably mad and nod and feel wise, when we are not as mad as cats, or as wise as dogs, or as good at dancing as bees. But humans always feel we must be in every story. That in some way all stories are centered around, for, and about us. So I felt obliged to add us in, even though this story is simply about bees and dogs and cats.