I finished a book, and also adorable bacteria/dogs

I finished the rough draft of Insomniac Cafe! That’s my horror-satire novel that I currently describe as, “A surrealist horror take on Friends in the Backrooms, where six heroes must survive school run by giant cockroaches to become Successful Adults.” My sibling and husband read it and the reactions were exactly what I expected (in a good way).

Will anyone who doesn’t know me — or know a particular era of sitcoms the way I do — get as much out of a book akin to Grady Hendrix dropping acid to write The Jungle? I don’t know. My agent might laugh me out of her inbox. I’m going to start editing next week, so we’ll see!

In the meantime I’m still going to the gym every other day. I mostly stuck to weight and cable machines for the first couple weeks to get my body awake again, but I’ve been in a squat rack again this week. Basically just all naked barbell stuff. I’m focusing on form. I lost some of my mobility (but not too much) when I didn’t do focused exercise for a couple years, so I gotta take it slow.

With my rough draft finished and my rewatch of Friends complete, I’m a little bit adrift, honestly! Good thing it’s summer break and I have my kids to keep me busy.


Heat domes are becoming more common in America, but FEMA hasn’t responded to them like a disaster yet. (NPR) Some folks want that to change.

“Hurricanes are terrible. Earthquakes are terrible. But actually, heat is the number one killer now of the climate emergency of any weather-related event,” says Jean Su, director of the Energy Justice Program at the Center for Biological Diversity and a leader of the new petition.

Climate change has intensified the risks of heat and wildfire smoke turning what was once a manageable seasonal problem increasingly dangerous and deadly, Su says. Last year, at least 2,200 people died from heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though experts say that number is almost certainly a vast underestimate.

“If we’re actually looking at where FEMA can actually make the biggest difference, it would be targeting and focusing major disaster funding on actual health impacts and lives of extreme heat and wildfire smoke,” says Su.


On the bright side, Quartz reports that solar power is now bigger than oil. This is a global evaluation though. America is still quite oil-dependent, and other countries like China are using this as an opportunity to speed ahead.


A former CDC official thinks bird flu might be our next pandemic. (Quartz)

But an NPR health correspondent maintains that it’s mostly a threat to dairy workers.

NPR also has an article about how Thailand beat avian flu twenty years ago.

The movement of live poultry — to market, for example — was severely restricted. Farm hygiene was dramatically improved. A nationwide surveillance system was launched, including a network of village health volunteers who reported sick birds.

Perhaps the biggest and most lasting change, Auewarakul says, is that this outbreak abruptly accelerated the transition from backyard chicken farmers to large-scale industrialized poultry farms. He says this was a big cultural transition since chickens had been part of everyday life for many Thai families. […]

The shift to these industrialized farms has not fully eliminated avian flu in chickens, but the disease has been largely contained. With ongoing monitoring, cases are often identified early and dealt with before the virus can gain a foothold.

America’s a very different situation, especially since our bird flu is in dairy herds. And unfortunately some people on the political right are stubbornly drinking raw milk anyway. (Digby’s Hullaballoo)


Here’s a fun Ars Technica article about bacteria fighting other bacteria using phages.

Viruses that attack bacteria, termed “phages” (short for bacteriophage), were first identified by their ability to create bare patches on the surface of culture plates that were otherwise covered by a lawn of bacteria. After playing critical roles in the early development of molecular biology, a number of phages have been developed as potential therapies to be used when antibiotic resistance limits the effectiveness of traditional medicines.

But we’re relative latecomers in terms of turning phages into tools. Researchers have described a number of cases where bacteria have maintained pieces of disabled viruses in their genomes and converted them into weapons that can be used to kill other bacteria that might otherwise compete for resources. […]

Many phages have a stereotypical structure: a large “head” that contains their genetic material, perched on top of a stalk that ends in a set of “legs” that help latch on to their bacterial victims. Once the legs make contact, a stalk contracts, an action that helps transfer the virus’ genome into the bacterial cell.  […] These are former phages that have been domesticated by bacteria so they can be used to harm the bacteria’s potential competition.

Now I’m imagining bacteria hurling little virus spears at other bacteria. It’s kinda cute?


Even more fun is Kevin, the world’s tallest dog. (Smithsonian Mag) Apparently he’s a giant scaredy-cat.

“Kevin is the epitome of [a] gentle giant,” says Tracy in Guinness’ statement. “In fact, he is scared of most things.”

Some everyday objects—such as vacuum cleaners—seem to frighten Kevin. Recording the Great Dane’s height for the record proved difficult because he was scared of the measuring tape.

Scared! Of! The! Measuring! Tape!

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