Category: Things I’ve learned (Page 1 of 4)

On Toe Corns and Hangers

hangerI am a pretty intelligent person, all in all. I have degrees from top universities, kids called me the brain in school and only the truly dumb have ever accused me of being dumb.  But I have pretty much no practical abilities.  I don’t pay attention to the world around me, and therefore I don’t really know how it works.  This became clear to me today when i was hanging clothing to dry.

Our drier is broken.  Rather than try to figure out how to fix it – like any other intelligent person would do -, and tired of bugging my husband to take a look, I decided to start hanging the clothing to dry in the backyard.  So far, so good. I managed to install the cloth line between two trees without any major problems (though I keep having to re-tie it, as it becomes lower and lower).  But one cloth line is not enough for a whole load of laundry, so I’ve been hanging shirts on hangers from the branches of trees.  Trouble is, many of my t-shirts have wide necks and fall off the hangers.  I’d been hanging wet t-shirts on hangers from about a week, when I finally figured out what the purpose of those little loops of fabric under the sleeves is: to hook them into the little hooks in the hangers, to prevent the garment from falling.  Did I mention how I am 45 years old and I only figured this out now?

But here is a better one.   Today, still 45, I figured out that you can use those little hooks in the hanger to trap the shirts and make sure they don’t fall.  All these years I could have been preventing my shirts from falling off the hammers in my closet – if I had just spent a couple of minutes paying attention to the structure of the hanger!

And just now, before I started this blog article, I’ve had another revelation.  A couple of years ago I noticed I had developed ugly corns on the toes of one of my feet.  I might have had them for years before, of course.  The corns did puzzle me and I tried to figure out why I had them.  The most likely explanation – shoes that were rubbing and creating the calluses – didn’t really work, and the shoes I wear specifically do not rub that area.  Plus I started noticing that the corns remained year round no matter what type of shoes I wore.

Well, I think I finally figured out their cause.  When I sit at my computer, I just realized, I actually curl my toes on that foot and rest my foot on the ground, on those toes – just where the corns are.  I don’t know how often I do this, but clearly often enough to create those corns.  Now it’s time to test my theory. I’ll try to remove them and then be conscious to not curl my toes on the ground and see if they come back.

Poisonous Beetles

Lytta-vesicatoriaand the Democratic party

The blister beetle or Spanish fly is a marvelous creature.  It secretes a substance called cantharidin which causes chemical burns and blisters.  They can be extremely painful. The substance is secreted by the male and gifted to the female, who uses it to coat her eggs.  When it was discovered in the 18th century, it was considered one of the strongest poisons, on par with strychnine.  But the poisonous cantharidin has important medical applications: it kills warts.

Last year, my 11-year old daughter developed a painful case of plantar warts.  These are caused by the HPV virus and they are extremely difficult to treat.  Mika had two removed surgically, but as long as the virus is present, they can keep coming back.  For that reason, when she developed a third one, the doctor finally recommended trying cantharidin.

The application itself wasn’t too bad but within hours it started acting out.  Even though Mika had taken a pain killer, the pain in her foot was excruciating.  She begged me to stop it, but it was inside her, so there was nothing we could do.

The cantharidin was forming a blister underneath the wart, killing both the skin and the wart.  Interestingly, the surface of the skin never blistered much.  We didn’t go back to the doctor to have the wart removed either – Mika didn’t want to have anything to do with doctors anymore -, but eventually the pain stopped and the wart was gone.  It’s been many months, and she’s wart-free so far.

I thought about blister beetles and cantharidin when I read a quote from an anonymous colleague of mine at the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee (ACDCC) calling me “poisonous”.  Sometimes political bodies, just like organisms, can get a virus and develop a wart.  In the case of the ACDCC, it has to do with conflicts-of-interest and a lack of commitment to transparency.   I can only hope that my “poison” will be as effective here, as beetle poison was for my daughter.


How to remove lipstick from a build-a-bear

buildabear“Mommy, how do you get lipstick from a build-a-bear,”? my daughter asked one evening.  Being the clueless homemaker that I am, I told her I didn’t know, and to look it up online.

She found another girl with the same problem but no actual answers.  So she used her ingenuity. Lipstick is make-up, she figured, so why not use makeup remover?  OK, the only one she could find was Maybelline Expert Eyes Moisturizing Eye Makeup Remover, but she gave it a try and IT WORKED!  The bear is as good as new, and moisturized!

So now you know, if your stuffed animal gets makeup, try makeup remover.

Nail Polish = Nail Polish Remover

  I am sure it’s happened to you: the polish on your nails has become brittle and/or you want to change colors but don’t have any nail polish remover at home.  What to do that does not involve going to the drug store for some?  Use nail polish!

No, I’m not saying that you should just cover up your old polish with new polish, rather if you apply a new coat of nail polish, it will dissolve the coat underneath it, and then you can wipe them both off.  Use clear polish if you have it, to make the cleaning up easier.

I just tried this method after my daughter made a mess painting her own nails – and then tried to use a knife to remove the polish – and I was surprised at how amazingly well it worked.  Indeed, it worked better than actual nail polish remover (it’s also more expensive).  I can’t believe I didn’t find out about this until my mid-forties, but better late than never.

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