Day 648 – Saturday

Today my mother and Bob and I met up with the twins and we all went to lunch and then back for chatting and finishing jigsaw puzzles.

It was fun spending the afternoon together. Elizabeth flies back to Baltimore tomorrow and she probably won’t be back in Sacramento until she graduates in May. Catherine will be here for another week.

Catherine has started an Instagram channel for her artworks so now I have a good reason to be on Instagram. That will be fun to follow.

And I don’t remember how we got on this topic but I think Elizabeth mentioned something about hamsters. Which led to some research. And I found an article that surprised me. And that inspired a marketing email I later wrote and which I include below as a proxy for telling the hamster story…

Email Subject Line: {The Digital Concierge} – The Hamsters of the Corn

I’d never thought much about wild hamsters.

But biologists studying endangered wild hamsters in France found something really weird.

These hamsters were unexpectedly aggressive and eating their own young.

Long strange story short, these hamsters happened to be living in large industrial corn fields and their diet was almost entirely corn.

Through researching to understand this behavior, biologists added vitamin B3 to the hamster’s diet and after that one single change, the hamsters went back to doing happy hamster things. Including not treating their babies as food.

See, unprocessed corn lacks micronutrients including B3. Humans who subsist on mostly corn can get a disease called pellagra which causes really nasty skin rashes and dementia. (Though not, I should point out, cannibalism).

This was a big problem in Europe from the 1700s onwards after corn was first introduced there.

In South America, where corn was first domesticated, people processed the corn through an alkaline solution which ultimately yields hominy which can be ground into masa flour. Processing the corn that way releases nutrients in the corn (including B3) that aren’t otherwise available when the corn is digested.

This corn processing trick didn’t happen to make it over to Europe. And the causes of pellagra wasn’t fully understood until the mid 20th century.

Unsurprisingly, this got me thinking about businesses failing to attract as many customers as they need.

and then from there I went into a sales pitch to my email list. I’m weird. I like variety and it keeps my readers entertained.