Not All Viruses are the Bad Guys

Multi-colored Tulip Image Courtesy Pexels

We hear so many horror stories about viruses today, and every one of them are viewed as something terrible to take every precaution against. This is not to say that such things do not exist, but virus have been known to create genetic mutations in nature that have accounted for some pretty incredible things out in nature.

Tje tulip is one of those. Originally when tulips were first introduced, there were only solid colors and simple shapes we all recognize as everyday (not saying they are not beautiful too). But a virus caused them to mutate into these mixed types and then one of the most striking of all tulips came along – the Parrot Tulip. Below is an example of just one of the many forms.

Stunning springtime Flaming Parrot Tulip flowers against a white background.

In the day when these unique and beautiful tulips first were introduced, collectors sought them out and paid exhorbitant prices for just one of the bulbs. One bulb could bring a cost of four cows, or six pigs, or I think it was ten lbs. of butter, which was in high demand. Once the collectors got the bulbs, they would work with them in such interesting ways (you must read about it; it is fascinating). And so today we have thousands of types of tulips out there, thanks to the virus(es) what changed their DNA. Also, if you like to watch PBS, I watch things like NOVA all the time, and so perhaps I saw this on TV. However, you might find it on the Internet or in the literature of a plant nursery specializing in tulips.

I thought you all might be interested to know a tiny bit of my background to know why I would be looking for information about viruses to share with you. For a number of years in my younger life, I was a Regulatory Compliance Specialist (that is a fancy term for a specialized quality assurance auditor whose task it is to meet all the requirements of the FDA and other organizations that can get involved. Now this company happened to make plasma derivative products, which are used for things like AIDS, which is an acquired virus, or the thousands of other types of viruses that are auto-immune viruses, some rare that there are not enough cases to do proper research on them. Some of these viruses that still exist today are said to date back to Biblical times and to the twelve tribes. Many come from Eastern Europe.

Now in the medical world, things are classified according to their danger in their administration. At the top of the list of course are things like any heart implants, and that is pretty obvious. Plasma Derivatives are right up there at the top too because anything that goes straight into your bloodstream obviously will likely kill you faster than say a pill, but of course, as with everything, there are exceptions to every rule.

Well, when I was 64, I was among 400 of the employees who got laid off because the company was being sold to a firm in Spain, but something happened to which I am no longer privy, and so the company went out of business altogether. And so began another and most satisfying period of my life, becoming a substitute paraeducator (generally a one-on-one), a substitute aide, and a substitute teacher for special needs children (often with several issues all at the same time. I loved every moment of that, and though I could have been permanent (and was asked over the years on more than one occasion, I said no. I never wanted to do what most teachers do regularly, but to be able to work more directly with the children.

As a final note, I am recommending a book I am starting to read from my last visit to the thrift store: Robert Gallo, M.D., Virus Hunting Aids, Cancer, & the Human Retrovirus: A Story of Scientific Discovery. Once an M.D., and one of the most-cited authors of scientific literature in the world during the 1880’s, he served as Chief of the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, and a two-time winner of the Albert Lasker prize, the highest honor in biomedical research.

I think a very healthy thing to do in these confusing and stressful times besides the obvious, is to use this time to educate yourself. You can get such books from places like Amazon, and I am sure you know others as well. It may well be available in E-book format. I wish you one and all the best of days, and ways to find something of beauty and joy every single day.

Love of Four and Some Two-footed Friends

Poisonous Frog on Left, and Tiny Frog on Right

I have loved animals all my life, and I have to say that some of them are not necessarily things that others will find suitable, but I guess there is something about them to make me want them in my life, at least for as long as they can be.

When I was still a little girl, living in El Paso, TX, I used to hear what I thought was some sort of giant toad for its huge voice (Croak, CROAK, etc.) on and on thru the night. I would only hear them after a big rain. But when I discovered the source of those voices, I could hardly believe it. I was fascinated and laid down in the went dirt to watch the mud puddle nearby and the stream of life going on in it. It was marvelous, for there was activity going on everywhere in the small area of that puddle. I would go back day after day to watch it, until on the last day when the puddle was nearly dried up and there were just a couple of those tiny frogs (like the one on the right), so small one of them could sit on my smallest fingernail and not be overcrowded. I decided to “rescue the one or two that were left, believing that they were not going to get into the ground before it was totally dried up. So I took them in hand into the house, found a jar, and put some water in it for them, and believed I could find things to feed them and take good care of them.

Children mean well always, but they are often very naive about what is required to do some jobs well. This was the case with the frogs. I did not know that when they stopped mating and living in the puddle and went back into the earth, they entered a state of metamorphosis until the next rain. When they stopped making those huge croaks late at night, I could not understand what was going on. But the next day or so, I decided I needed to take them back out and pour the water back on the ground to make another tiny mud puddle or at least a little wet area there so that I help them to get back into the ground. It was near the evening, so I left them with the somewhat wet spot where they were, and went back into the house. I went out early in the next day and the spot was almost all gone, and the little frogs were definitely gone.

I will never forget that time. Over the years, I have loved and had other frogs for pets, and I would find them out in nature and enjoy them whenever i could. As I grew older, I learned not to take them out of their habitat, but just to watch and enjoy them. Much to my adult shame, I once ate some frog legs at a restaurant when I was older. I always felt as though I was betraying my friends, but those legs were pretty tasty. Would I eat one of my dogs or the cat? I seriously think nothing could induce me to eat them — even starvation. But I guess a lot of people have edible pets that they raise, knowing that someday they and/or their families will eat those creatures.

I look forward to reading about all of your pets over the years. These are only the start for me.