Hello and welcome to the December 2019/January 2020 issue of Aphelion!
This is our annual double-sized Holiday issue. Twice the thrills, twice the chills—because
it will have to tide you over until February, LOL! We do this every
year so that the staff and I get to spend the holidays with our loved
ones without the crush of dropping everything we're doing at the end of
December and putting out a January issue. Believe me, it takes some
time to go through all the submissions and HTML-code the selections for
each issue. In just a few minutes, I'll shut up and let you get to
first I would like to say a little bit about the unexpected, and the
frailties of life. You see, about the middle of November, I had a
pretty intense scare. It went down something like this:
you know? Turns out that I am allergic to *something,* after all. A couple of
weeks ago we were at the Dollartree over on Atlanta Highway in Athens, GA. Over in the corner
where Lindsey was looking at makeup, my throat started itching, I started
coughing, and became a little dizzy. Lyn said we should leave, then quickly suggested I
go outside while she went through the checkout. As soon as I reached the fresh
air, I started feeling better. By the time Lyn came out, I was back to
normal—except for a runny nose that persisted for half an hour.
notice any perfume or any sort of smell at all, didn’t touch anything, no clue
as to what was the cause. That is the first time in my life anything like that
ever happened to me. We’ve shopped in that store many times—with no problems at
was just fine later that same day, except my sinuses were completely
dry and I was terribly thirsty. Even now, two weeks later, that
scratchy throat still hasn't completely vanished.
For a brief
period in my teens, I had a mild reaction to codeine, which made the inside of
my throat itch. But in my 30s, after a motorcycle accident, I was prescribed
contains codeine—for pain relief, and never suffered the itch in my
throat again after 120 days of taking two of those every 4 to 6 of my waking hours.
Meanwhile, back in the store,
we were right next to the perfume aisle. Lyn thinks that someone had been
testing perfume scents earlier in the day. My present theory is that while the
odor of the perfumes had dissipated, (I can’t remember if those are called
ketones or esters,) some particulates from the mix of aerosols were still
lingering in the air in that corner of the store—and some random combination of
leftover airborne particulates from the perfume shelves caused me to go into
anaphylactic shock, albeit a very mild case. Lyn recognized the sound of my
cough, added to my description of the itchy throat, as exactly that. Thus her
decision to get me out of there ASAP. If I had been there alone, instead of
with her, most likely I would have continued shopping, and woken up—if I were
very lucky—in the Emergency Room. Dodged a bullet that day, thanks to my wife’s
medical training from her days working at a
retirement home when she lived in New Mexico.
I know the above sounds all sciencey and
everything. But I’ve had 42 years worth of periodic OSHA safety training at
work that included filter mask training, airborne particulates, parts per
million of aerosols, testing the air in confined spaces for harmful or deadly
gasses, and I PAID ATTENTION! Because my life could depend on what the
instructors had to teach. Didn't help me avoid the situation, but it allowed me to understand it once I had time to think.
fact that something intangible, invisible, totally undetectable by my
senses came within a few minutes of putting me in a hospital—that
was frightening. I'm not sure that I want to ever go back into that
particular store again. There are other stores in that same chain
elsewhere. in fact, we went to one just yesterday, and everything
was uneventful. Better to avoid that one, other store than to risk it
happening again. The human body is a vastly complex bit of
biomechanical artwork. It can take huge amounts of punisment, yet can
be shut down by a simple cloud of invisible dust, floating randomly in
the air. Gave me pause for thought.
So, that is the extent of my musings upon my own mortality—at least for a while.
Now that I've said my piece, I'll shut up and
let you get to reading the new stories, LOL! Remember, there are twice
as many of everything in this issue. But you have to make it last twice
as long. Please do feel free to comment on the stories by going to our
Forums section and making your thoughts known. The writers will thank
you for it. Plus, you'll be helping them become better writers, too.
Title: Antennae Galaxies composite of ALMA and Hubble observations.
Photo Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO). Visible light image: the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope