Blog Like It's the End of the WorldNo, not that kind of smut.  I’m talking about corn smut, a fungal disease of maize.  Corn kernels infected with corn smut turn gray and bloated and just look really ugly.  Of course, corn smut is also considered a delicacy in some areas, though it’s generally considered a pest in agricultural areas of the US.  Native Americans frequently used corn smut to induce labor; apparently it has some of the same physiological effects as ergot, but without the, you know, psychotic episodes and the dying and the extremities rotting off.

I only mention this because I think smut has entered our little farm town.  The Supreme Court won’t be doing anything about it, although the agricultural board might.  Seen from a distance, a corn field, like the ones that surround Dixon, which has been infected with smut looks like an ordinary corn field, but one dotted with black specks — the tumors produced in the corn by the smut.  As I was driving to the store this evening, I discovered that in certain light, the black specks of corn smut can also look bright red.

In other news, apparently the library assistant who was injured during the migrant worker outreach project yesterday has died.  I’m looking for more information about that, but this sort of thing probably won’t hit the local papers for a couple of days.  I’m hoping our district librarian will have more information.  The quick death, though, reinforces my idea that necrotizing fasciitis was at work.  I’ve heard rumors that there have been a couple more cases in the migrant camp, which strikes me as kind of odd; I’ve never heard of an epidemic of necrotizing fasciitis.

Still, it was enough to freak out at least one person.  While shopping for yogurt at Safeway, I saw a woman buying what looked like a month’s supply of food, including lots of bottled water and dried goods.  And she paid with a couple of hundred dollar bills.  I thought her type had finally come face to face with reality back in 2000, when Y2K failed to turn off a single light bulb.

I swear, what with the corn smut and the necrotizing fasciitis, I feel like I should be taking several showers a day when living in Dixon.  Glad I’m moving to Sacramento soon.

Meanwhile, does anyone know what’s really going on in Australia and New Zealand?  People are talking about a zombie uprising down there.  Those of you who know me know how seriously I tend to take any apocalyptic murmurings (as in, not at all), so I think the real story is something much less serious.  This is New Zealand, for crying out loud.  Home of Peter Jackson, who, before giving us Lord of the Rings, gave us Dead Alive, arguably one of the funniest (and goriest) zombie flicks of all time.  Since zombies seem to be in vogue right now, I imagine some film producer is capitalizing on all this.

Oh, and people are trying to tie this all in to a medical alert issued in Kuwait as well.

I’ve said it before, I’ll happily say it again.  People are just plain nuts sometimes.

Updates:  There are more zombie stories coming from the Phillipines and from Korea now.

Unexciting Around Here

Blog Like It's the End of the WorldOnce again, my lungs are giving me hell, so yet again I’m working at home today.  Hacking away at Moodle like always, doing random tech support, and forgetting to update my online timesheet (which is ironic, since I’m the one who created the online timesheet that everyone in our office uses anyway).

Summer’s upon us, which means that the Central Valley, which Dixon is smack-dab in the near middle of, is getting hot.  Spring was unusually warm around here, and it looks like summer’s going to be just as bad, if not worse.

Since Dixon’s a farm town, deep in the heart of agricultural country, summer also means that our population grows about 30% (according to a community analysis report I read when I joined the Library Commission a few years ago); this, of course, is because of the number of migrant farm workers that come into the area to work.  We have two camps near Dixon for the workers; one is actually a recovered naval base, which still has some of the old buildings intact, and a radio tower.  School is out for the summer, but the library’s summer outreach program to the migrant workers camp continues.

Which reminds me: when I went to the drug store this morning to pick up some drugs, I saw an ambulance parked in front of the library.  When I got home I called the library’s administrative assistant and asked what had happened.  She told me that one of the library volunteers had gotten injured somehow at the migrant camp yesterday when she was doing some outreach work, and her wound, which was apparently really bad, had gotten badly infected.  She was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Not to sound racist or classist, but I know that the migrant camps simply can’t be perfect havens of outstanding public health.  Not all of the migrants are illegal immigrants, but I assume that many are; and with the difficulty that illegal immigrants have, too many diseases, including some very dangerous communicable diseases, are left untreated until the condition worsens to the point where emergency services are required.  This is just dangerous.  Regardless of your position on illegal immigration, I think we can all agree that these communities should not be allowed to become public health risks to the community at large; any legislation which denies preventative and maintenance health care to illegal immigrants is just cutting off our nose to spite our face.

Of course, when I heard about the library assistant, being me, I naturally assumed it was necrotizing fasciitis; it frequently starts out when an injury becomes infected, it strikes fast, and it strikes hard.  There haven’t been any cases of that reported around here, but it’s not inconceivable that the staph strain responsible was carried here by workers from other areas, and that it could have infected someone.  Still, it’s really unlikely.

I’m still going to be obsessively cleaning any tiny scrape or cut I get for awhile, though.  Old habits and hypochondria die hard.

There’s also the fact that when I work at home, I usually pop in some old horror movies to play in the background while I code away.  I had a nightmare last night (don’t remember what it was, just that I screamed myself awake), and that set me on edge, so I’m seeing ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and germs where there are none.

So no, nothing much happening around here today.  How’s it going where you are?