Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chatting About Nothing in Particular

I woke early with a bad dream still echoing through my head, and I found I just couldn't get back to sleep.  (Don't you hate it when that happens?)  It's strange how latent worries and fears tend to rise to the surface when you lie awake in the middle of the night (or more often, early morning). Things that you can normally just push to the side are more presistent, and it seems impossible to clear your mind and let yourself drift off.  It is without doubt the most depressing time of day or night, so thank goodness most of us usually sleep right through it!

The downside of getting up a couple hours earlier than normal is that you catch yourself making lots more typos than usual!  Please excuse any that I may miss.

So, time for a little casual chit-chat, then.

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I'm pretty sure the neighbor dogs moved in yesterday evening.  (That's because I saw them and-- just barely-- heard them barking.  So it's pretty good intel. (g))  You have to wonder what pets think when they are moved to a totally new location.  How long does it take before they consider the new place home?  Are they confused by the change, or do they simply accept it, because the rest of the "pack" is there? 

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We walked over to my parents' house Monday afternoon/early evening.   (We were delivering one more T-post we'd found that they could use in their temporary fence for the dogs.)  I think it will be the last time I willingly walk until the seasons change.  That's partly because it's just too hot and/or humid this time of year to make walking pleasant.  (Donald may be crazy enough to go running in the summer, but I choose to get my exercise indoors!)  It's also because there are Things about in summer.

A few minutes after we arrived, Grandpa took his lawnmower (which happened to already be out) and started mowing the strip of land we'd just walked.  When he came back, he told us he'd just mowed over (i.e. killed) a water moccasin-- maybe 30 feet from where we'd been walking in some knee-high grass and weeds.

Ugh.  It's enough to make you shudder, think about what could have happened (pain, expense, infected wounds?--with quick access to a hospital, not likely death, thank goodness, but aren't those other things bad enough?), and resolve not to walk so much until later in the year!

I'm opposed to cottonmouths living in my general vicinity.  (And I guess I need to try the snake gun again so I'll be ready if one chooses to disregard that sentiment.  Sorry, snake-lovers, but I will be killing the venomous ones that venture onto our property, if I can manage it.)

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My left hand still smells vaguely of vinegar this morning. 

No, it's not a new beauty/hand-softening regimen.  ;o)  No, I haven't started perfuming myself with vinegar, either.  (Good guess, though. (g))

What happened is this:  Yesterday afternoon, I cleaned and chopped a handful of fresh jalapeño peppers.  I did not wear gloves.  I briefly considered that option, but then I thought, "Nah, jalapeños aren't that hot.  It's not like these are habeneros."  As I worked-- and afterward-- I was fine, which only confirmed to me that jalapeños are not that bad. I washed my hands when I was done, of course, but didn't really give it a whole lot of thought.

It wasn't until later, when Donald arrived home and we were talking, that I began to notice a slight burning on the fingertips-- under the nails-- of my left hand.  (The right remained unscathed.  I'm sure this is because I held the knife in my right hand and used mostly my left to handle the peppers.)  The burning was very slight-- so much so that I absentmindedly used a fingertip to scratch an eyelid.  Instantly I realized that that had been a mistake, and I went to rinse off my eye immediately.*

Burning my eye confirmed my suspicion that this had something to do with the peppers, so I googled it and ended up reading a thread of all sorts of humorous and horrifying stories of jalapeño-based misery.  Some people didn't realize their hands were "contaminated" until after they'd gone to the bathroom, for instance.  One man didn't feel it himself, but his wife certainly did (. . .later that night).  Then there was the woman whose hands burned so badly-- just from jalapeños!-- that she went to an emergency clinic in search of relief.

Reading all that (and how it was so frequently a delayed reaction) made me a little afraid that this was only the beginning-- and by this time, the burning had increased somewhat-- so I tried a couple of the possible remedies I'd read about.  First, I soaked my fingertips in vinegar**.  Later, I took a piece of aloe vera plant and squished as much as I could of the gel under my nails.  Both provided temporary relief, but at least some of the stinging came back.  If it had been worse, I would've tried tomato sauce/paste next, but it just wasn't that bad, so I was able to ignore it.

Throughout the evening, I would periodically feel a slight flare-up of discomfort-- usually when I was using my left hand-- putting pressure on it by picking something up.  Even this morning, as I type, I occasionally feel a very mild tingle in the tip of a finger.  Just enough to remind me of yesterday and why I will never again risk worse burning by chopping peppers gloveless.

It seems that (as with most things) some people are more susceptible to small amounts of capsaicin than are others.  (Thus the man who didn't feel it but whose wife did-- and the number of people who wrote that they never feel it on their hands, but if they touch an eye or their mouth, they burn just as much as the next person.)  In any case, I think I'll take some precautions next time.  Some people wrote that latex gloves don't work, but that rubber gloves do.  I'll probably try rubber gloves next time, just to be on the safe side. . .

(Looking back into my dimmest memory, I think Mom may have warned me about the peppers when she passed them along to me. . . I guess I wasn't paying enough attention.  Shame on me!)

*At that point, it was impossible not to remember the story of how poor little Tonya had been playing with some ornamental peppers (unbeknownst to the adults).  I don't remember all the details, but I think that somehow her fingers started burning, so she put them in her mouth.  That made her mouth start to burn, so she started crying, which led to-- as you've probably guessed-- her putting her hands to her eyes and burning them, too!  Ouch!

**I read this morning that vinegar (like water) is ineffective at removing capsaicin.  (So my fingers are all vinegary for no good reason?  How rude!)  On the other hand, they list vegetable oil and Vaseline as being possibly useful.  Then again, this is Wikipedia I'm citing here, so, um, take it or leave it, pretty much.

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I mentioned exercising indoors, before.  My current favorite indoor exercises (because I have more time to waste this morning) are all Wii-based.  (There's something both satisfying and amusing about using video games to be more physically active!)

Number one on the list is Gold Gym's Cardio Workout.  If you enjoy the boxing elements in other games (Wii Fit, EA Sports Active), you might want to give this one a look.  If on the other hand you hate the boxing elements, avoid this one like the plague, because that's pretty much all it is.  (g)  I liked the boxing, and I haven't been disappointed in this "game".  Just as EA Sports Active's boxing takes Wii Fit's version to the next level, so too does Cardio Workout.

Here are some points of interest about the game:
  • Though the game info says it works with the balance board, that's a bit misleading.  Only a couple of exercises use the balance board-- none of the actual workouts do.  Instead, you stand at a slight angle to the TV and are prompted to keep up a rhythm of shifting your balance from one foot to the other.  This helps keep your heartrate up.  At first, I found it kind of awkward-- partly because I thought you were supposed to be stepping each time.  You're not (unless they specifically tell you to do so).  You just shift your balance from the front foot to the back foot and vice versa, at a decent pace. If you're doing this to get a workout, you really need to try to keep up with the balance shifting.  I'm sure it makes a huge difference in how much work it is.
  • For most of the workouts (or at least the ones I'm familiar with-- because I haven't tried them all, yet), you're "just standing there".  They don't ask you to do any kicks or steps-- just shift your balance and throw punches.  As you work your way up in difficulty, they add in "ducking" (like quick squats) and "weaving", and later on, they do incorporate quick steps to the side or forward and backward.  For someone like me, though, even the ones with just ducking are a pretty good workout. (The first couple times I did those, I could definitely tell the next day that I'd been working those specific muscles.  Now, the fact that I don't feel sore the next day tells me that I've made some progress.)
  • If you're like me, you'll probably have a little problem getting some of the punches to register.  There are (I think) three different types of punches.  Jab and cross ("1,2") are the easiest-- just straightforward punches like the ones used in Wii Fit.  Then there are hooks (left and right) and uppercuts (again, left and right).  Try not to despair if you find yourself shouting at the TV, "I did it!  I made that punch!  Why aren't you giving me credit, you miserable piece of--?!" -- Ahem.  As I was saying, don't give up if you have trouble getting punches to "count".  It does get easier with practice. 
  • The music. . . One of the parts of the game I haven't been thrilled with is the music selection.  They have a fair number of songs to choose from, but they're mostly very. . . video-gamey.  It's probably hard for game designers to find music that everyone will like, but still. . . There's always the option to turn down the music and play your own instead.  I just wonder if the beat/rhythm of the music you play might throw you off.  Maybe the ones included in the game all have the same beat.  (I haven't paid that much attention to them, honestly.)
  • You earn points for every workout you do, based in part on how well you do.  (You get a bonus if you have a "perfect" workout-- no missed moves-- which makes it even more annoying when the Wii doesn't register one of your punches. (g))  The game keeps up with your points not only so you can track your progress, but also so you can "go shopping".  Punches/points translate into "gold", which you use to purchase new clothes for your mii.  I think that part of the game is a little bit pointless, but I guess it might be more of a motivator for other people.  Some might be motivated just by the desire to earn enough gold to buy every single item possible.  Personally, I'd be more interested if there were new songs or workouts for sale in the shop. . . You do earn/unlock new music, workouts, instructors, and-- get this-- clothing for your instructors, just by putting in the time/punches.  (Periodically you'll get a notice that you've unlocked something new.)  So you can change not only your own mii's clothes, but also those of your instructor.  There are several instructors from which to choose, by the way.  I think they have different voices and say slightly different things during workouts, but it's not something I've given a lot of thought.  (g)
. . . Wow, I rambled a lot about that game!  (And there's still so much more I could say.  But don't worry-- I won't.)  The other two I've been using lately I'll just mention briefly.

Dance Dance Revolution: Disney Grooves.  We chose this one because it came with two dance mats, so we could play simultaneously.  I've seen some complain that the routines aren't sufficiently difficult.  To them, I stick out my tongue, because they must be in much better physical condition than I am.  It's difficult enough, trust me, and I'm just playing on the "Difficult" level-- not "Expert".  It's certainly enough to give you a little exercise.  I think I have to "dance" longer than I have to "box" to get the same kind of results-- at least it feels longer-- but it's nice for a little of a change. 

Wii Fit (Free Step).  I haven't used this one as much as the other two, but I think that's going to change.  This is nice for a lower impact workout, and I like that I can be watching whatever I want on TV (or listening to my own music) while I do it, yet I still get credit in the game for exercising.  (g)  I know it's not much different than if I just went for a walk around the house (or, well, outside-- but that's just crazy-talk), but I'm more likely to do it if I'm getting points for it, so in a way there is a difference.  Also, because it's "just walking", I think it will be easy to talk myself into doing it, even on days I don't really feel like exercising.  (That's the plan, anyway.)

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 Well, time to go start the day for real!  :o)