Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jalapeño Hands

Oh the pain!!! I was making salsa and guacamole for my friend's farewell dinner last night and had to dice some jalapeño. I have done this many times before, though the peppers were never quite so enormous, and I usually experience a mild burn on my hands for a few minutes, but last night was a shocker!

Jalapeños contain capsaicin, which is hydrophobic (not soluble in water) and acts as an herbicide in the chili pepper family. So first I tried washing the hands with lots of soap and water, because soap can bind nonpolar molecules such as capsaicin (though it had to be cold water because anything resembling heat would increase the burn significantly). When that did not seem to be working I asked Husband to look into remedies online. Here is a list of all that we tried:

- rubbing alcohol (pleasant cooling effect and relief for ~30 seconds, then resumed burn)
- olive oil (the theory, again, is that the oil will bind the capsaicin and help it wash off, but it actually made the burn seem greater for some reason)
- soy milk
- soy yoghurt (at this point my guests arrived, which was interesting)
- lime juice (was very pleasant, but burn returned soon again)
- moisturizing lotion
- hand sanitizer (though same as alcohol really)
- hydro cortisone lotion
- pepto bismuth, crushed and dissolved in water because I did not have any liquid pepto (online remedy that wikipedia says is ineffective, and that is true in my experience)

The only thing that worked in the long run was to sit with my hands in a bowl of cold soapy water. I would take the hands out every couple of minutes, and when the burn became intense I would dip them back in. I never did try bleach, which is another online remedy that wikipedia says is ineffective. The cutting of the peppers happened at ~7pm and I finally noticed an improvement in my hands around midnight, so about 5 hours total duration. I also refrained from actually eating the salsa and guacamole beyond a tasting stage, though my guests did not complain of any digestive issues.

In a related side note, our cumbers were completely destroyed over the course of a single day by the striped cucumber beetle. I have red somewhere the jalapeño spray can be used to deter them, which from my experience, I am tempted to think is true.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Montana Sky

So my dear friend and neighbor graduated this weekend with her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. I couldn't figure out what to give her for a graduation gift and finally settled on doing a painting. She is going to be a large animal vet (equine, I believe), so I thought of painting some horses. I also thought of painting our lovely home town, but didn't know what her favorite spot was. So I decided to paint her a Montana landscape, since it is her favorite state, though I myself have never been there. Here it is, in all it's complete glory. It is quite huge, and I let you decide if it looks anything like Montana.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

My First Psychic Experience

Yesterday Husband and I went to see a Medium (people who talk to or channel spirits). I was very excited about going because I had never been to a medium before, don't really believe in it all that much, but wanted to be pleasantly surprised.
During the hour long drive that would take us to the medium's house, we had a most pleasant experience - a rainbow had formed over the field that we were driving past, but it was a rainbow like I had never seen before, nearly solid and so close! We pulled the car over and it just so happened that from our vantage point the rainbow 'ended' in a small clump of oaks in the middle of this vast green field, coloring the trees in it's colors. It looked unreal. And I curse the fact that I did not have a camera with me.
So taking the rainbow as a positive omen we finally arrived at the medium's house. She was an older lady, perhaps in her sixties, wearing a little pink cardigan and in her house, on every available surface stood angel figurines. We sat on a big comfy couch (cushions embroidered with angels) and she on an armchair across from us. She was very friendly and pleasant and asked what we would like to accomplish. I explained in many more words, that basically I was looking for something that would seem believable to me, that I didn't have any particular queries aside from a proof of her profession. Also prior to beginning the woman new the following facts:
- that I was from Russia
- that Husband was from Brazil
- that we were biologists (I didn't mention my art at all)
- that Husband is a believer and I am not

So here is more or less some of our dialog:

She asked me then if I have a grandmother that has passed. I said yes. She asked if my grandmother used to wear a babushka (makes no sense since babushka is the Russian term for grandma). I said I did not know what she meant. She said that it might be a Polish term and asked if she wore a scarf on her head a lot. I said no but that she had very distinctive red hair. She then told me that what she had seen was a red scarf and that the red hair makes sense to her now. She said grandma was very busy having a great time there. She asked if grandma had been a very lively person when she was alive. I said she was a firecracker, which was really not true at all to the best of my knowledge because I didn't really get to know her much but from what I knew of her she was a very smart and very serious woman. Oh yes, said the medium, she is bathed in sparkles, like those 4th of July fireworks - here she kind of began to loose me a bit. She then looked at me very seriously and said "You loved her very much, considering. Isn't that true?" "Considering what?", I said. She didn't really explain, and I said that grandma died a long time ago and I am sure I loved her and that she loved me. She then said that grandma did love me very much, that she is proud of me and of all that I have accomplished, even if I think it is not much (again, Huh?). She then said that she approves of my Husband, that she is patting him on the head and saying that he is a good one. Says she is very busy there and having a good time. She also apparently said something like "I'm not a clown you know", meaning, presumably something about her hair. Finally she mentioned that grandpa was very sad without her and that he would probably like to join her, and that had it been a different time she might have lived longer (grandma died of cancer, so I guess that could be true, though kind of obvious).
At this point I am already fairly disappointed with her, but she then goes on to introduce my guide. "I'm not Einstein you know" says my guide to her. Apparently he is some kind of mad scientist with crazy hair and glasses, short and funny. The final message to me from my guide and grandma seems to be that I should be quiet, go meditate, allow myself to feel with my heart rather than my head, and that love is very important.
I then ask if there any more dead relatives hanging out nearby and she tells me that there is a boy of about 12 or 13. I tell her that I do not believe I have any such relatives. She says he died by accident, possibly drowning. Again, I do not know such a person. She then asks Husband if it might be one of his relatives, which again it is not. The boy then apparently says that once dead people are often forgotten, and that he would like to tell his parents that he is ok now. She then settles on the idea that the kid is Husband's guide, and that he is telling him to lighten up.
Eventually we come around to asking some questions. I ask if there is any particular reason behind my phobia (without mentioning what it is). She says that whatever I have forgotten, I have forgotten for a reason, and that I need to learn how to breathe deeply, which would give me more peace. She mentions that we should go to the local Buddhist monastery, where she sees us being hugged or protected by a very large man. Then I ask if Husband and I had known each other in a past life. She says that in Africa we were brother and sister and died young, and then we were Aborigine brothers who also died young, and that we have come to this lifetime to live out a nice long happy life. I ask if we will have kids and she says yes, two boys and a girl. A couple more messages for Husband, which I will not post here out of his privacy, and then three hours later we are done.
Even my believer Husband is not convinced. In my opinion a lot of what she said was some kind of free association. She knew I was Russian so she latched on to the idea of a Russian grandma with a handkerchief around her head. She knew I was a biologist so my guide was some kind of weird Einstein dude. Not once was my artistic side mentioned, by the way! She thought I would use my head to much because I was a scientist, which I don't really think is at all true. I spend a lot of time quiet, and thinking, and feeling, so who knows what that's all about. So overall I rate the experience, with the exception of the rainbow for which she tried to take some credit, as a disappointment. Nevertheless, it makes me eager to meet some of those really intense mediums they apparently have in Brazil, even if they don't have much time for silly proofs and personal readings.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Life Changing Decision


I have been offered a graduate student position at the University of Melbourne. I had applied for the position about two years ago and had already despaired of hearing anything in the affirmative, had gone ahead and gotten married, bought a house etc, when all of a sudden BAM! It is a good offer, in what appears to be a quality lab, with a well established and successful professor, an interesting research topic, and with a completion date in about 3 years. The stipend is extremely modest and what's worse, it is in a city of 3.8 million people. And, oh yeah, it's on the other side of the planet! We would literally have to give up, sell and give away everything, and take along only what we can carry. Our home, our cat, our cushy little jobs... And yet, we are seriously considering accepting the offer. Adventure, excitement, and really wild things!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bill O'Reilley is scawy!

video

I am so glad this video got leaked! He is such a jerk. It was on YouTube, then it was pulled, now it's back up. Who knows if it will get pulled again. I bet he is having a massive freak out somewhere out there right now.

one more cup of coffee (valley below)

I am completely in love with this Bob Dylan song. I have a high regard for Dylan in general, but I find that he is more of a poet, reading his verses to the sound of music, and so many of his songs flow together into one for me. But this one strikes a cord in my heart. I think I will try to paint something for it, so stay tuned.

I would like to dedicate this song to my sister, and ask her to think of fireflies.