Bullet Wound? How about a hot oil compress?

During the early 16th century, cannons and early firearms (primarily the arquebus and musket) created a new problem for battlefield surgeons. Long familiar with injuries that killed from blood loss or infection, the surgeons of the early 1500s had little idea how to deal with the shock wave and black powder-induced injuries caused by lead shot. Doctors initially believed that gunpowder coated the projectiles with a poisonous residue that caused necrosis in human tissues (post-hoc reasoning, but in its way not all that bad a guess). Once they “discovered” the cause of their patients’ rapid deterioration, the surgeons decided they

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Of Books and Baths and Things That go Whoops in the Night

February 9 is official “Read in the Bath Day.” (Around here, that’s short for “Did-You-Drop-That-Book-In-The-Tub-Again-Day.”) I admit to a weakness for books and bubbles and hot water. I’ve emptied more water heaters than I can count (and more than once at a sitting), and I’ve passed many a happy hour reading away in a bubble bath. I’ve also got the swollen tomes to prove it. Anyone who reads in the bath understands that concept all too well. It doesn’t matter how carefully you hold the book or how slowly you turn the page. If you read in the bath, sooner

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Flipping Snails.

An interesting side effect of owning an aquarium is that you end up running a “Life Alert” program for snails. Half the ones I own cannot right themselves when they fall off the glass and land upside down in the sand. (Trochus, in particular, have cone-shaped shells that spike into the substrate on impact, leaving the snail to wave its foot in a futile attempt to attract attention and aid.) In the beginning this didn’t bother me. I checked the tank every morning and righted the unfortunates, happy to rescue them from a slow and unpleasant death.  But after the

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In Praise of the Pistachio

I spent most of yesterday in the garden, weeding the rose bed and planting pansies. While at the nursery buying the happy-faced flowers I also picked up a trio of pistachio trees. One guy and two girls. (No, really…keep reading.) I’ve loved pistachios for years but only recently discovered the trees grow well in Sacramento. (Recently, in this case, means “last winter when it was too late to plant new trees.”) In honor of my new baby orchard-in-training, let’s review a few facts about pistachios: 1. They do not come in red. The red-shelled versions popular during the 1960s and

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Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Or for those who don’t speak Chinese… Happy New Year! February 3 marks the Lunar New Year. As many of you probably know, 2011 is the “Year of the Rabbit” (or hare, depending on the translation). Fewer probably know that it’s actually the year of the Metal Rabbit (whoever said Metal was dead didn’t speak Chinese), as the Chinese zodiac incorporates not only 12 animal signs but also five elemental signs, which rotate on a 60-year cycle (5 x 12…easy math when you think about it).  The elemental signs supposedly supplement the animal’s innate characteristics, adding secondary qualities to individuals

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GROUNDHOG DAY!

Most of you know that later this morning Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow and let us know whether spring has arrived in the northeast. (I’ll pause to let readers in Snow New York stop laughing.) But here are a few facts about Groundhog Day you might not already know: 1. If you happen to be in Punxsutawney on February 2, you can have breakfast with Phil before the big event.  The groundhog is notoriously close-lipped about his prediction, but rumors suggest he’s not immune to a little bribery.  Spring-lovers take note! 2. Groundhog Day is an outgrowth of

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This Post is Going to Tank

I’ve had a few requests for more salty tales of my aquatic adventures (read: updates on the new salt-water aquarium), so from now on Tuesday is Tank Day.  I’ve deliberately self-edited until now, primarily because I wasn’t sure my ramblings about this-or-that-creature-you’ve-never-seen would actually hold any interest.  Several of you have proven me wrong on that count, so here goes. The aquarium is currently inhabited by a variety of invertebrate life forms, including a blue tuxedo urchin, two starfish, six large tubeworms of assorted colors and five shrimp – wherein lies a tale. Deimos, the lone cleaner shrimp, has found

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