What we can learn about humanity from COVID-19 vaccine trial volunteers

By Charlotte Stevenson and Lori Sonken

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Photo credit: Obi Onyeador from Unsplash

“Somebody has to be willing to participate,” said Lynn when asked why she volunteered for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial through Wake Research. A full-time graduate student in her 50’s living outside of Durham, North Carolina, she considers herself healthy and wants to be part of the solution.

When faced with a decision that comes down to this fact, that someone has to go first, or someone has to be the guinea pig, most of us choose to wait. It must be programmed into our genetics, our…


Guaranteed to make you 30 years younger or permanently injured

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Photo credit: Markus Spiske from Unplash

BeachBody. P90X. Brazilian Butt. Barry’s Bootcamp. Bringing Sally Up and Down. I’ve tried it all over the last decade. But about 10 weeks ago, I stumbled across this unbelievable new program called “Training Every Day with No Break and No Help with Kids in Quarantine.” Catchy title, right? I thought so too.

This program — let’s call it TEDQ — begins at 6 am, even on weekends, and does not end until at least 8 pm. You can’t squeeze this program into your lunch hour or do it every other day. This is no abbreviated, pre-vacation, “I-want-to-fit-into-my-swim-suit” 14-day shred. When…


Fossils reveal a marine ecosystem collapse caused by 19th Century livestock in Los Angeles

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Photo credit: Leif Christoph from Unsplash

I originally published this article in 2018 through University of Southern California Sea Grant, and it is still available in an interactive story-form here.

OK. We cannot claim credit for this title: Apocalypse Cow. It already has a cult following as a craft beer and a zombie-thriller book. But, assuming there is a little room left for associations, we would like to slap this label on a time period in Los Angeles’ history. When was this cow-mageddon, you ask? And why haven’t we heard about this before? To answer those questions, we are going to have to dive deep…literally.

Unlike…


Fails in homeschooling during the COVID-crisis

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Let me treat you to the conversation I had with my 8-year-old son, Balen, while doing Mad Libs one evening.

Me: “Ok, I need an adjective now.”

Balen: “Butthole.”

Me: “That’s not an adjective.”

Balen: “What’s an adjective?”

Me: “Remember? A descriptive word. Butthole is a noun.

Balen: “Fine. Anus.”

Me: “That’s also a noun. It’s just the medical term for butthole. An adjective describes a noun…tells you what it is like….big, small, red, funny. And, by the way, if you use a potty word for every answer, it won’t be funny when we read it out loud.”

Balen: “Yes…


The quarantine coping mechanisms of a social 4-year-old

I have a confession to make. We might be breaking social distancing rules. Lately, we’ve had a lot of visitors. For instance, yesterday I spent the whole day with Maui, the Polynesian demigod. Maui emerged from my 4-year-old daughter’s bedroom at about 6 am and announced that he needed some juice. He then explained, over a bowl of Cheerios, that he had lost his infamous hook but instead had a magical speaker that played music. (Interestingly, Maui mostly enjoyed playing the soundtrack from Frozen II.) And Maui didn’t fade away mid-morning as I expected. …


A COVID-era perspective on the family board game

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Like many other families in quarantine, we’ve pulled out a lot of board and card games lately to try to stem the ever-present easy tug of screens. One evening we were playing Candyland, and my 4-year-daughter, Lark, pulled the “Plumpy” card when she was about 10 moves away from winning, sending her back to the beginning of the game-board.

“I hate this game!” she raged, throwing the Plumpy card onto the ground.

“Lark, it’s just a game. It’s not a big deal…”

“Yes, it is! I want to win! …


Unconventional success in Covid-home-schooling

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Photo by Elle Hughes on Pexels.com

The other day, I had the age-old debate with my kids:

“I hate math! I don’t want to do it. I’m not doing it.”

“You don’t hate math.”

“Yes, I do. It’s dumb.”

“It can be really fun!”

“NO.” And then Balen put his palms over his mouth and made an echoing farting sound that sent him and his 4-year-old sister, Lark, into hysterics.

Keep in mind I’ve now had this argument every day for I can’t keep track of how many days. …


How hard physical activities saved me when my son died and now again during Covid-19

My son Balen decided that the mound of snow still clinging to our backyard needed to go. Of course, that task required a pickaxe, exactly the tool a mother loves to see her 8-year-old swinging madly at the ground.

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Photo credit: C. Stevenson

Amazingly, his control of the axe was relatively stable, so I stood nearby watching. Soon, though, I had the urge to join him. I found a flat-ended metal shovel and started chopping away at the frozen mound.

As ice sprayed up at us and huge chunks of snow satisfying tumbled down the mound, I realized that I had been here before…


Glitter isn’t so sparkly when you know it was mined using illegal child labor. But there is hope.

Have you ever wondered where all the sparkles come from in the beauty industry? Eye shadow. Lip gloss. Body shimmer. Bronzers. Nail polish. Everything is glittering these days. But what is it, exactly?

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Photo credit: Yunona Uritsky from Unsplash

It’s mica. Mica is a silicate mineral that is mined out of the ground. In Latin, the verb micare means to glitter. And glitter it does.

Archaeologists have found evidence of mica being used as early as 4000 years ago in India, primarily for medicinal purposes. The Mayans mixed mica into their stucco to make their temples glitter.


A Q&A on the history of deodorant and the choices, natural and not, available today.

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Photo credit: Sarah Cervantes from Unsplash

What is the difference between ordinary deodorant, natural deodorant, and antiperspirant?

  • Ordinary deodorants have ingredients that kill the bacteria that feed on our sweat which is what causes under arm odor. Ordinary deodorants do not stop sweating.
  • Antiperspirant has ability to plug up the sweat glands with special salts that gradually melt away after a certain period of time. It is worth noting that while the FDA considers deodorants to be in the larger class of “cosmetics,” antiperspirants are regulated as “over-the-counter drugs.”
  • Natural deodorant is made without harmful ingredients like parabens, aluminum and synthetic fragrances and does not block sweat glands. …

Charlotte Stevenson, M.S.

Writer, editor, mom, loss mom, and big fan of science. Full Profile on LinkedIn.

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