Fog – smother or serene?

It’s been foggy in North Texas lately so that spurred me to actually research the subject.

Fog looks simple but it’s apparently pretty complicated and can form in different ways (radiation, advection, evaporation, topographical reasons, etc.)  under a variety of conditions such as daily temperature changes, freeze and hail.

Generally fog is a ground-level cloud containing floating water or ice droplets. While all air around us contains water vapor, warm air can hold a lot of water but once it cools (drops below the dew-point temperature at a particular pressure), it causes the vapor to condense. If sufficient droplets form, fog is created.

My husband calls fog peaceful, I call it eerie and yucky. This was my drive this morning:Fog2

DFW mid cities early January morning fog
DFW mid cities early January morning fog

Looking at the mugginess makes me think of all the liquefied pollution that we are inhaling. The mixture of the fog with toxins in the air such as sulfur and nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone form vehicle emission and general industrialization can lead to many health issues like decreased lung function, coughing, bronchitis and eye irritation. Don’t get me started on the dangers of low visibility on the highway at 70 mph.

If you step out of the polluted city air, however, fog – as my husband notes – can be quite tranquil:

Early morning Ketchikan, AK
Tracy Arm Fjord from the water
Белоградчишки скали (Belogradchishki Skali), Bulgaria
Белоградчишки скали (Belogradchishki Skali), Bulgaria

Fog is a natural humidifier so in clean air can actually aid lung function and weaken asthma symptoms. Fog can create rainbows, bring water to drought regions and grow grapes (?!) (Nebbiolo grapes in Barolo, Italy).

What about you – yay or nay on foggy days?


Let’s Hug … Because Science

In a month full of New Year’s resolutions, many take steps to live healthier, better lives. Apparently an easy way to boost our well-being along with our life expectancy is to simply hug more.

A few nights ago I was in the middle of cleaning up the kitchen and I asked my husband for a hug. He said ‘no’ and to continue what I was doing so that we can get our daughter to bed. That upset me. The very next day I saw this video on Facebook:

Watching it made me think of the reason why I was upset the night before and how much more a hug can do than just it being a simple physical action.

Hugging decreases cortisol – a hormone that is released when you are stressed. It inhibits insulin production and narrows arteries causing an increased heart rate. Decreasing it’s level can improve your blood pressure and immune system responses.

Touch also increases oxytocin and many of you already know some about that hormone – it is made in the hypothalamus, secreted by the posterior pituitary gland and it’s commonly called the cuddle, love or hug hormone. It promotes social behaviors such as trust, relaxation and psychological stability. It can apparently even help your wounds heal faster!

The video above references women as seeing a higher benefit from touch. While some studies suggest that is true, both genders can see considerable gains from hugging.

I just finished watching Love Actually on Netflix and the movie begins with the narrator saying how when you wait for someone at an airport you don’t see the hate and despair that seems to flood our world every day, but love – people greeting each other, tears of joy, gentle touch. So let’s resolve to hug more often and maybe increase our empathy along with our own health and happiness.