Friday 23 August 2013

Theoretical, Practical... and Useless

"Bicarb for Bees, Vinegar for Vasps".

So goes the mnemonic for what you should put on an insect sting.  Bee stings are acidic and should be neutralised with an alkali - the typical household example being bicarbonate of soda - while wasp stings are the other way round, i.e. they're alkaline, and should be neutralised with vinegar.

Also of note: bee stings are barbed, and will stay behind in your skin - which has the side effect of killing the bee shortly afterwards - while wasp stings aren't barbed, and stay attached to the wasp instead of to the victim, leaving the insect free to fly off and re-offend.

I've known all of that for years, but it's always been a hypothetical bit of information, as I've never been stung by either... until now.  Went to pick up a box outside the shop today, and next thing I knew there was a barbed sting stuck into my left hand around the area where the thumb joins on.

Fat lot of good all my theoretical knowledge of insect stings did me, though, when the opportunity arose: what's the point in being able to identify it as a bee sting, and knowing that the correct antidote would be an alkali, if there's no alkali available, hm?  Answer: not much point at all.  Just had to suffer.

To be honest, I was surprised to discover it'd been a bee because I'd always thought insect stings were supposed to hurt a lot worse than it did.  Not saying it didn't hurt, just that I would have expected it to hurt more.  Not complaining though.  Not about that, anyway - in retrospect, I was rather more put out about not being able to make use of my knowledge on the subject than I was about having been stung in the first place!

No, I'm not asking for another round so I can have another shot at putting baking powder on myself.  Just for the record.

- The Colclough

Wednesday 14 August 2013

What You're Not Reading This Year

Any of you who've kept an eye on my DeviantArt page might have arrived at the conclusion that this is the time of year when you could expect another round of blue-pencilled introspection in the form of some Knowing It's Called Aspergers drawings.  You would have been right.  But you may also have noticed that said drawings haven't happened.

Well, it's been five years now.  As of the 6th of July this year, I've lived for half a decade with the notion that it isn't just me being an unfortunate and inexplicable freak of nature, it's part of the autistic spectrum and as such is a known and documented phenomenon and not a unique failing on my part - and after half a decade of chewing over the idea and figuring out how it fits in with everything else, it finally seems to have normalised.  The drawings were, in essence, about how I felt on the subject, but now I seem to have assimilated it into my status quo and no longer feel much about it at all: "ah, that time of year.  How do I feel?  Um... no different to how I felt when I wasn't thinking about it."  Hence no drawings; there's nothing to draw this year.

I thought it might have been nice to have one or two "I think things are winding down, so here's a little coda"-type drawings to conclude the series, but I spent most of July (on and off) thinking about the question, and couldn't come up with anything to draw as a coda that wouldn't have felt like a tired re-tread of the previous 44 pictures.  And in retrospect, I think the 44th - Day 1475 - serves well enough as a finale to the project.

I'm going to have to start putting something else on my DA page, aren't I?

- The Colclough

Saturday 3 August 2013

Ways to Pickle Your Brain

What the title says... here's a few thoughts on the subject, based on stuff that's been going on recently:

Have a heatwave.  I can usually keep functioning until 11pm quite happily, but I've struggled lately.  It's been particularly awkward at work - I seem to have spent several hours feeling like I'm wilting all over the till.

Play Antichamber.  Acquired recently when it came up on a Steam sale, taken more than 5 hours so far... and I don't even know how much of it I've solved.  It's unspeakably confusing.  Non-euclidean geometry, things changing behind your back (which often happens in my dreams, but now it's happening on my PC monitor too!), and sundry other very odd game mechanics.  Makes you miss the comparative linearity of Portal.

Change all the windows in your house and get paranoid that something's missing.  It's especially confusing in the porch, because the new front door has a lot more glazing than the old one, and lets in a lot more light, generating the subconscious assumption that it must have been left open by mistake.  Which is confusing when the door's actually shut.  Still, the new windows are, in themselves, very nice, and the new front door key has the added bonus of looking not so much like a key as we know it, Jim, but more like some fragment of the Enterprise which has gotten lost in time.

Get your new hamster to eat something which you don't know isn't poisonous.  After a longish period without any hamsters, we've had two new ones in the last week: Smokey (Ben's fourth), and Muffy (Sophie's fifth).  I went to clean my teeth last night, and found Muffy's cage temporarily sited on the kitchen table, and the rodent busy munching on a bit of christmas cactus which was accidentally poking through the bars.  I had no idea whether or not christmas cacti are toxic, so I pulled the plant out of reach (which left the hamster looking a bit confused!), and scuttled off to google the thing.  The internet seemed to concur that christmas cacti aren't poisonous - the worst that might happen is a bit of gastric upset and vomiting, but nothing life-threatening - so I could sleep easy.  But still, while it lasted, one more thing to help fry my brain cells...

Any other suggestions?

- The Colclough