Good News Monday #29: SOS, Twins, and the Microbiome

Most of the grandkids will be distance learning to start the school year. Freshman college man, Mr. N got an apartment with Miss E, which means they can shelter in place with each other while they take classes remotely. That’s good news for me. Yes, I worry about them, but to be selfish, that means I can see them with a lot less worry.

The basil, tomatoes and eggplant are ripening at about the same time this year which means fresh eggplant parmesan. Now that’s worth celebrating.

Here’s some even better news I found this week.

SOS in the Sand

Here’s something that started out as bad news and turned into a “Gilligan’s Island” good news story.

Three men set sail in a 23-foot boat July 30 intending to travel about 27 miles to Pulap atoll. The ended up, out of fuel and stranded on an uninhabited Pikelot Island.

Lucky for them, searchers from Australian defense department saw their giant SOS in the sand. The men had been missing for three days.

How many times do you think they had to re-trace the SOS due to wind, rain, or waves?

drone footage of a beach
Photo by Herman. io on

Fungi Save the World?

If you read Black Tortoise Press regularly, you know I go gaga over the human microbiome. If you’re new here, or just want a bit of a reminder, just enter “microbiome” in the search bar.

Now I have more to get excited about. Plants have a microbiome, too. That’s not much of a surprise. What did surprise me, is that what’s good for the tomato can be good for the soybean.

Rusty Rodriquez studies some grass that could grow in the super-hot soils in Yellowstone. It turns out that there is fungus in the soil that acts as a sort of anti-depressant for plants.

When plants are stressed by drought or heat, their metabolisms get unbalanced. The fungi help counter the stressors and the grass survives. The really good news is that what works well for the grass in Yellowstone also works for tomatoes, wheat, zucchini, rice, almost any seeds Rusty tried.

Somebody ate the apple right off the tree!

So far, the best way to produce more food for a growing population is to convert more forest to farmland. That’s not a good long-term solution.

Rusty’s discovery could result in more resilient plants using non-chemical, natural cooperations. With a growing population and a drier, warmer planet, this is truly good news.

I learned about this on the National Geographic podcast, Overheard. Here’s a snippet of the transcript. At the bottom of the list is a link to the podcast.

RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. Here. Yeah. Yeah. It’s the plant microbiome. And the plants cannot survive out there without these microbes. We can’t survive without these microbes. It’s a microbial world.

GWIN: Rusty says that’s how we evolved. All of us: Humans, plants, and animals. Because long before we existed, the world was one big microbial stew.

RODRIGUEZ: It was a microbial planet to begin with. And it still is. We just pretend it’s not.

GWIN: So fungi are, you know, we’re comrades in arms basically on this rock revolving around the sun.

from Overheard

I tried to embed the podcast, but after several minutes, maybe a half-hour, I put that on my list of things to learn. Instead I included the link to it wherever you see the word Overheard.

Another Covid Miracle

This time twins. Look at this beautiful family. It’s hard to consider that they almost weren’t.

Ebony Brown-Olaseine, got a little short of breath in March. She was seven months pregnant with twins, and she’s 40 years old, so she just chalked it up to normal effects what her doctor considered an at-risk pregnancy.

Ebony never had a fever or a cough, just a little runny nose and a winded feeling. But, she called her Obstetrician, and just to be on the safe side, she went to Saint Barnabuas Hospital where she got IV fluids and expected to go home.

At this point in the story, I thought about my niece, Sabrina. She had a similar situation and, even though she did have COVID-19, a few days later she was home with her husband and kids.

Not so lucky for Ebony. Her oxygen lowered to the point that she and her babies were at risk. She had to be intubated. So Ebony called her husband:

I remember telling my husband, “If I don’t make it, just make sure you take care of the babies.” And then that’s all I remember.

Washington Post

Things got so bad so fast that doctors performed emergency C-section in the ICU. Can you imagine? Ebony was so close to death that surgeons didn’t want to risk moving her to the surgical rooms.

The babies, Jurnee and Jordon were a little over 2 pounds and needed to be intubated. Two weeks later Ebony woke up. Now all three are home with Daddy and all three are doing fine.


Washington Post

I know I’m a sentimental sap, but doesn’t that story just bring a tear to your eye?

What’s on your good news radar this week? More is always better.