Random Fact: Sneezing and the Pavlovian Response

  AH-CHOO!

“Bless you.”

HA-CHOO!

“Gesundheit.”

It’s automatic. It’s a reflex. When someone sneezes in a crowd, there is always someone, or someones, who respond with one of the above phrases.  It’s almost a part of the collective-conscience or social mind. It’s a custom that we use simply because most people around us throughout our lives have used it. From the time you were learning to crawl, you likely heard someone say “Bless you” to a sneeze.

More than likely, you do too. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself “Why?”

There are different theories regarding the origin this Pavlovian response. One idea is that the expression stems from the Middle Ages when the Bubonic Plague was threatening European health. In this case the person saying gesundheit was actually wishing good health upon themselves, since they may have been infected by the one who sneezed. During this time it was also commonly believed that sneezing made one’s body vulnerable to evil spirits. Thus another plausible explanation is that gesundheit was a blessing to ward off demons while the sneezer’s body was defenseless.

Gesundheit literally means “good health” in German.

Long before that (around 440 B.C.), the Ancient Greeks believed that the soul left through the nose upon death. A vicious sneeze was thought to be an ominous event.

Remember that the next time you hear someone sneeze.

Random Fact: Tuberculosis and Potatoes

Last night, my wife and I made the rare choice to watch live TV. This is a rarity unless it is a sporting event. The benefit of watching DVR’d programs is, of course, the ability to skip commercials.

When forced to watch commercials, I usually tune out, grab a snack, check my phone, etc. The commercials about medications are the worst. Usually about a minute long and use the same formula: Show a middle-aged man or woman with a health problem.  The first twenty seconds describe what these people are going through and what the medication can do for them. The next forty seconds tell you the side-effects.

This is normally where I phase out. Last night, a commercial for a medication to treat tuberculosis came on. While I had the audio of the commercial tuned out, my eyes were focused on the word “tuberculosis.”

I don’t know why I focused on that, but I did. What caught my attention was the first five letters in the word: t-u-b-e-r.

Now, I don’t know anything about tuberculosis other than it can kill people. I think. I believe I had a vaccine for it when I was a little kid. That was the extent of my knowledge before last night.

I thought to myself, “Tuber? A tuber is a potato. I wonder if tuberculosis is related to potatoes?”

I asked that question to my wife. She shrugged in the way that most wives who’ve been married to the same man do after thirteen years who asks silly, random questions like that.

So, I picked up my phone and asked Google. Turned out, I was right.

When doctors autopsied tuberculosis patients, they described finding round, white swellings, especially in and around the lungs. Medical historian Howard Markel describes how those potato-like growths led to the disease being called tuberculosis, from the Latin tuber.

– from Science Friday

When “Kids Say the Darndest Things” has the potential to go bad – A Short Story

In 1995, legendary comedian Bill Cosby hosted a show on CBS called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” In it, Cosby would simply ask children questions and carry on a conversation. He would masterfully revolve the conversation around whatever the young child might say.

About Caleb

1913805_1225957572860_3240933_nCaleb was born and raised in the small community of Mt. Lookout in West Virginia. He has since lived in Greenville, SC and currently resides in Concord, NC just outside of Charlotte.

Caleb Wygal’s writing career sprung from working for his uncle in a small office in Greenville, SC. During periods of downtime, his uncle told him to “look busy” when clients came in to the shop instead of reading books. His solution was to write short stories. He based these short stories around his days as a youth in Mt. Lookout, WV. He eventually tied this collection of stories together and and added a few new characters to create his first novel Moment of Impact in 2006.

Three years later, after moving to Concord, NC just outside of Charlotte, he released a sequel to his first novel, A Murder In Concord. 

After the promotional period for the sequel ran its course, he began a third novel, but set it aside after creating the website WVUPros.com. A site dedicated to following the Mountaineers who used to play for West Virginia in their pro careers. The site started as a hobby, but quickly took off. Caleb set the book writing aside to focus on building the new sports website. His articles appeared on nationally recognized websites such as ESPN.com and SI.com. He made appearances on ESPN Radio in Beckley, WV and on WVSports Radio, as well as contributing articles to the college football preview magazine The Signal Caller in 2013 and 2014.

In June of 2014, he had A Murder in Concord published on Amazon’s Kindle as he continues to work on two forthcoming novels and his first novel is in the works to become an E-book as well.

In the fall of 2013, he started writing an adventure novel about the search for Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure using real places and events. He completed that project in September of 2015. In February of 2016, he signed a contract to publish that novel with Black Rose Writing set for release on April 28, 2016.