Author Archives: Kenn

I'm the author of There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings; Joy Writing: Discover and Develop Your Creative Voice; The Land of Debris and the Home of Alfredo; Jumper and the Bones; and co author (with Jim Loats, Ph.D.) of Algebra Unplugged, and Calculus for Cats. I also write songs and play guitar, and have published fifty or sixty poems in journals in N. America and Europe.

Cicada Songs, Ebola Dreams

I’ve read several popular books about diseases recently: Rabid, The Hot ZoneSmallpoxDisease, Spillover, and  Deadly Outbreaks. More books on a single topic than usual, but not with any project in mind. It just happened, the way it happens to folks who start to read books by Michael Connelly or Rex Stout. Several focussed on diseases that leap from animals to humans (“zoonotic” diseases). No curious person could resist daydreaming about some of the unsolved mysteries one encounters when reading about diseases like Ebola and Marburg. You play detective in your brain and then you almost certainly come up with your own crackpot theory, just like I did. Continue reading →

Political Plagiarism

Rand Paul is upset that people caught him using lines from Wikipedia and elsewhere as if they were his own. He feels like a victim and wishes he could just duel someone to settle it all. Or spend a couple days in detention after school, but certainly not his whole career. His words, I hasten to admit. Personally, I think most of what he did was harmless and we should cut him some slack. Continue reading →

Goats and Pigs, Iodine and Thiamine: a Hypothesis

It’s easy to decide that iodine deficiency plays some role in neurological diseases like ALS and Alzheimers. For over fifty years we’ve known that you’re much likelier to get one of these diseases if you spent your infancy in a region that’s deficient in iodine. Another example: exposure to the fungicide maneb dramatically increases the chances of getting a neurological disease from a toxin; maneb works by disrupting the use of iodine in animals. Our instincts shout that iodine must be involved; but we can’t say it out loud. Although iodine deficiency remains the number one cause of mental retardation in the world, we can’t prove it has a role in Alzheimer’s or ALS. No one has found a smoking gun. Continue reading →

April Sleet and Monkey Eyes

April snow, bittersweet like wedding tears,
Catches me every time.
Winter, a grizzled gray monkey,
Is a pest in the bananas;
Everyone’s glad to see him killed off.
But an April snow is that last monkey
We finally discover after a long
Day of exterminating
Clinging to the highest branch,
Staring at the knife with wide eyes,
A question on his forehead,
And we hesitate.

The snow floats fat and wet, like popcorn,
Or little white kittens,
Chasing the juicy gray fish to the ground.
Each feather tries to win the sidewalk,
But is washed away by warm minnows of spring.
Each drop washes off a bit of the man,
Exposing the wide-open monkey eyes.

“April Sleet and Monkey Eyes” by Kenn Amdahl. All rights reserved.

Conservative Bus Driver

The conservative movement has a tough challenge. It says “Buses are the problem. Buses are evil. All buses should be driven off a cliff.” Then it turns around and says, “OK, folks, please elect me to be your bus driver.”

Same Sex Marriage Debate

I had an interesting conversation on Facebook about single sex marriage. Because not everyone is my “friend,” I’ve edited it down and will paste it below. There were other comments, including some good ones, but I feel weird stealing other people’s writing (unless you need it to understand my response)  so this is mostly my own: Continue reading →

Remembering a Funeral

Writers have always written about their lives. It’s what we do and how we process events around us. The only difference is that now we call it “blogging.”  I’ve got boxes full of poems and little essays that no one has ever read. I just ran across some thoughts I scribbled on the back of used paper twenty years ago and threw into a box. It still made me sad. Here’s what I wrote back then: Continue reading →