Jalapenos and Benadryl

Yesterday I made Mexican rice for the first time.  It turned out really well, by the way! I will tweak it a bit next time but the texture and flavor were pretty good.

This experiment also had me cutting up jalapeno’s for the first time. Now, I’m not a spice person.  I will on the rare occasion go as high as 3 stars, but 2 is my comfort zone.  My husband, on the other hand, likes it HOT. When he makes hot chili, he uses a mix of peppers that includes those tiny Thai peppers that I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole (I don’t eat any of this chili, in case you were wondering). Chopping up said pepper mixture usually involves rubber gloves and chemistry glasses and lots of warnings to anyone else in the house, “Do Not Touch That! Don’t even BREATH it!”

But, as I said, I was chopping jalapenos.  Little, innocent, jalapenos.  So, even if I had known where Trey keeps the rubber gloves, I probably wouldn’t have used them anyway.  I just held the slices with my fingers while I scraped out all the seeds. Mistake number 1.

Mistake number 2, which was probably the worse one, was that after chopping said jalapenos and putting them in the food processor, I did not immediately wash my hands.  Instead I continued chopping the other veggies I would need for the mexican salad I was making to go with the rice. Half an onion, one bell pepper, and 1.5 tomatoes later the thumb and forefinger on my left hand start to sting, like I had a tiny papercut that some tomato juice got into.  Huh.  Not a big deal.  I finish the third tomato and it’s really stinging!  But I merely rinse off my hands and the knife and finish arranging things to start this fabulous mexican rice.  Suddenly, it gets bad enough I can no longer ignore it.  I wash my hands.  Then again because it still stings.  I put some oil in the Dutch oven to start the rice.  Wash my hands again.  About now I stick my thumb in my mouth to try and suck out the really stubborn tomato juice.  Thats when my tongue starts burning and I realize… Crap.  That was not the tomatoes.

Of course, by now it is not jalapeno oil on my finger continuing to burn.  It is the jalapeno oil that soaked down through several layers of skin and is protected and continuing to burn from the inside.

It is now about 2:30. We are supposed to leave around 6 to meet friends for dinner at 6:30.  So I have four hours to cook the rice, finish the salad, clean the kitchen, and shower.  Not a big deal, except that now I also have to take care of the burn on my fingers! I tried flushing with cool water, rubbing my fingers while flushing them, soaking them in ice water, ice water with soap, milk, milk with ice, even yogurt.  I tried ice bags, aloe, aloe with lidocaine even!  Turns out that once pepper oil actually saturates into your skin, topical treatments do pretty much nothing–at least not towards making the burn actually go away.  Keeping the burn suspended in cool liquid, especially flowing liquid, helps somewhat but only until the second you take said burn out of said cool liquid.  then the pain is absolutely excruciating. Not. Fun.

I am rather impressed that with only one working hand and having to keep the other one suspended in cool liquid I still managed to get the rice done and take a shower–both of which took 2-3 times as long as they should have.  I also toughed it up to go ahead and go to our dinner date–ice bag in tow.  They were really sweet about it and let me just sit with my fingers in a bowl of ice water.

So what did finally help? Benadryl.  About 5 hours after initial contact with the evil peppers, I called the family doc (aka Dad) and learned that by now, all the oils causing the burn are definitely gone and what I’m dealing with is an inflammatory response.  So, cold stuff helps somewhat because it is anti-inflammatory.  Ibuprofen might help, but Tylenol won’t. Benadryl is one of the strongest non-steroidal anti-inflammatories out there. If that didn’t work, the only trick left is prednisone, which would require a doctor visit to get a prescription.

Fortunately, the Benadryl worked!  And it has the lovely side effect of putting me right to sleep. By 2 am, when I discovered by ice bag was leaking, I was too tired to bother getting another one and my fingers were only irritated, rather than excruciatingly painful.  By 7 am, the burn is gone though my fingers still feel tight and grainy.

So, if I could give you one piece of advice for the future, this would be it:



Communicating the Genome

Excerpt from my post on FliptheMedia.com.



23 pairs of chromosones

Tuesday morning I went to a SXSW panel on “Personalized Health.” The featured speaker was Dr. Linda Avey, a geneticist and entrepreneur who founded 23andme.com. Much of the talk centered around her work at 23andme and their continued progress since her departure. I was quite impressed with the capabilities of 23andme and their project making personal genotyping publicly available. However, I had some concerns, and they have a lot more to do with communication than with medicine. In that area, if I may be so bold as to correct a successful geneticist, Dr Avey’s plan needs some improvement.

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Getting My Geek Back at Emerald City Comicon: Part 2

Excerpt from my second ECC article at FliptheMedia.com


Halo Spartan cosplayer with Gravity Hammer

Halo Spartan cosplayer at ECC with a gravity hammer.

Think with me for a moment about the last time you were looking for something,—and I mean frantically looking for something—and the suddenly realized it was right in front of you the whole time. If you’re at all like me, that was disturbingly recent.  And if you were me, it happened last weekend at Emerald City Comican on a very deep level.

If you recall from last week’s post, I went to Emerald City Comicon questing to reclaim my inner geek.  Well, I found it, but in all honesty I discovered that I hadn’t actually lost it, just lost track of it.

Turns out being a geek isn’t about having played the latest Halo game (I still squee over grav hammers, which I guess is kind of unusual?), nor is it about knowing all the backstories of every comic book hero (I correctly ID’d roughly 80% of the superheroes I encountered.  I can accept a solid B.), and you don’t have to recognize all the artists in the exhibition hall — or, you know, any of them.  As Rachel Edidin said in the panel Looking Past Your Target Audience, “Geek is a self-selecting group.  It is not a test.”

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Getting My Geek Back at Emerald City Comicon

Excerpt from my ECC article at FliptheMedia.com


ECCIf you’ve known me for five minutes you probably know that I am a geek. Not only that, I am proud of it.  I am practically an apostle of all things geek culture: books, movies, games, series, you name it.  I grew up watching Jean-Luc Picard explore the galaxy and learning to write inTengwar.  In my undergrad I won two Hogwarts House Cups for Slytherin (yes, that’s right, Slytherins rule.  Literally.  Deal with it.), went to midnight showings for ROTK (Return of the King) in costume, was a gold badge Red vs Blue fan, learned a lot of Japanese via anime, and became a more than decent Halo player. Continue reading

Downton Abbey Season 3: Art Imitating Life


Okay. Now we can continue.

Downton Abbey has swept across the UK and the US, igniting new fascinations with pageantry, elegant drama, and beaded gowns. But of course it’s the characters who steal our hearts.  Whether you feel more attached to the upstairs or the downstairs crowd, everyone has a favorite, someone they identify with.  And it really begins to feel like a family.

So, naturally, when characters start dropping like flies in Season 3, it’s a trifle upsetting. Continue reading

Breaking the DRM Spell

Guess what topic I”m tackling for my final presentation for this summer’s law class?  That’s right, DRM and e-books!  I also have writer’s group tonight and wanted to bring some new material.  So, here’s an allegory/parody of how DRM works sociologically as demonstrated by DRM principles applied to a physical book through magic.

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Other side of the whirlwind

Phew!  That was a crazy ride and no mistake!

After five amazing days of intensive class and video production, here are my key take-aways.

  • Taking this class was the right decision!  It was a ton of fun and I learned something totally new that I probably never would have done otherwise.
  • Making videos is a lot more fun than I anticipated, and while it is still a lot of work, the work isn’t tedious and so doesn’t really feel like work.
  • Also, I now know how to use Premiere, which I’ve had on my computer for three years and never had the guts to figure out.
  • YouTube is a lot more fun and straight forward than I had given it credit for.
  • Being a grad student has definite perks, like the ability to check out amazing high quality video, sound, and light equipment.
  • Said equipment is also HEAVY.
  • I hate traffic.  Period.  I would rather drive farther, or wait longer and go at non-peak times, than drive anywhere during rush hour. Ugh!
  • Sometimes, it’s worth it to cough up the dough for a hotel close to the destination.  See above.

and last but not least…

  • I have caught the film gadget lust bug!  Having gotten the chance to play with the whole process, I want to keep going!  I went through Best Buy yesterday for ONE thing, which I found very quickly, and then spent fifteen minutes drooling over the digital camera section arguing with myself over whether I could justify it as a school expense.

Resource call, if you have any experience with digital cameras, what do you use and how have you liked it?