Laughing at The Horror of Being Alive

A Weblog by Heidi and Stu
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Friday, June 11

If you like CafePress, but aren't so artistically inclined, try pixeltees.

Even I can make a t-shirt. (I'm especially proud of the back).

Europeans are so sophisticated.

Thursday, June 10

Last weekend I was clearing the empty lot next to my house and got a wicked dose of poison ivy on my arm. The rash is just coming into full bloom today and it itches like a mother. Since I get a least a minor case a couple times a year, I learned some interesting facts about poison ivy:

  • Poison ivy doesn't spread. You might think it does, because the rash develops on different types of skin at different rates. Inside the elbow, where the skin is fairly delicate, it will appear a day or two before it appears on the back of the arm.

  • You still shouldn't scratch it, though. Even though you won't spread it this way, you can break the skin and it can get infected. I scratch a lot.

  • The active ingredient in poison ivy, oak, and sumac is an oil called urushiol. It bonds to your skin chemically within minutes of exposure. So washing up after you go indoors probably won't help; it may even make it worse by lifting and spreading any unabsorbed oil.

  • Urushiol doesn't break down much over time, so if you get it on a pair of gardening gloves, you can keep contracting the rash every time you use them. I think this is why I get so many minor cases - I'm too cheap and lazy to get new gloves.

  • I included a picture of my local variety, but you can't put much stock in pictures of poison ivy. Although it always has three leaflets, the leaves can be shiny or dull, smooth or lobed, and the plant can be a low groundcover or a climbing vine. I'm fortunate in that mine has a distinctive red stem so I can avoid it if I'm careful.

  • Stu's Stuff
    What I'm reading now:
    'Post Captain', by Patrick O'Brian
    What I read last:
    'The First Man In Rome', by Colleen McCullough
    If the above seems out of date, I've almost certainly reverted to either Patrick O'Brian or P.G. Wodehouse
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    Kevin Whited's Reason Forum (Houston-related) "chronicling the high cost of our legal system"
    Pathetic Earthlings "Science, Politics & Single Malt Whiskey"
    Century Research Foundation "Testing the Limits of Good Taste"
    Favorite Columnist:
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