What are colds, and if so, how many? The common cold, as it is known to everyday (except Tuesdays) experience, is one of the most persistent chores of daily life. The biological purpose of a cold is for nature to remind you that you don't really like going into work and aren't that fond of many of your coworkers, and that when it comes down to it you aren't so hot on being home either, whether you're surrounded by people who lovingly take care of you until they drive you insane or whether you simply sit up by yourself watching multi-hour documentaries about paint. Given this, it's remarkable that people still go to the bother of getting colds, when they would obtain exactly the same physical benefit by simply being sarcastic and passive-aggressive at work for two days, then staying at home another two days wrapped up in blankets and running out of hot chocolate while reviewing all the decisions one has made in life which have resulted in one not walking on the Moon, then reviewing the blogs of people you knew in college who have been much more successful in their chosen career. You could feel generally less happy without all the sneezing.
The first sign of a cold is generally one stating which exit leads to the airport. Colds like to gather around airports, where they can watch the airplanes taking off and landing and pretend that they're EICAS (Engine Indication and Crew Alerting System) instrumentation. Colds were very strange as children, and not often played with -- the least popular ones were forced to pretend to be co-pilots -- causing them to be surprisingly shy and likely to hiding behind furniture when confronted directly. Nevertheless they will sneak up on people who seem to be around the airport and going about their business, and will therefore pounce, if they think they're not going to be noticed part-way through. In mild cases they create homesickness or -- for sensitive sorts -- a feeling of wanderlust; but if they're able to catch a person and wrestle him to the ground before security arrives they can produce a full cold. Sometime in the middle of your suffering you may note the irony of ``catching a cold'' phrasing things the wrong way around, if you like, but it won't help.
As for ways of preventing a cold, why would you want to do that when they've gone to so much trouble to find you? If you must, though, many will suggest taking large amounts of vitamin C will help prevent colds. This can be true as rogue cold viruses really like the lime-flavored tablets. If you suspect you're being attacked by a cold you can hold up one of the lime-candy tablets. Once you have the cold's attention toss the candy away, if you have a clear means of escaping the room and do not mind littering, you reckless cad, or else towards a person who seems to be altogether too happy and therefore a better target. You can also make a cold believe you already have one if you act like you have a cold. You have to do a very good job of this, however, and if you prefer Method Acting you'll find the only way to convincingly pretend you have a cold is to get an actual cold, so you shouldn't be avoiding it if you want to avoid it. You can spend much of your recuperation time pondering that sentence.
Recovering from a cold is pretty well doomed to be challenging. There's not much way out until you feel lousy about yourself and everyone around you. Cynics and pessimists have a particularly difficult time of making themselves feel worse enough to be noticed by the cold, which means it doesn't know when to leave. Ironically, this causes their colds to linger and encourage them in general feelings of misery about the entire world. This is an interesting example of a non-ergodic random walk, and can be avoided by eating more ergodes during any month with an ``r'' in their name.
Trivia: After Apollo 13 entered its free-return trajectory, flight controllers estimated the minimum practical return time was 133 total hours (splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean), and the maximum 152 hours (splashing down in the Indian Ocean). Source: Apollo By The Numbers: A Statistical Reference, Richard W Orloff, NASA SP-4029.
Currently Reading: The 13th Element: The Sordid Tale of Murder, Fire, and Phosphorus, John Emsley.