Back to previous post: The General Speaks

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: The Globe Finds FanFic

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

October 16, 2007

How To Wash Your Hands
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 03:23 PM * 443 comments

Flu season’s coming up.

Does everyone have their Flu Pre-Pack? That’s a list of handy things to have around the house in case of flu. Even if it isn’t the Thousands-Dead-In-The-Streets Mass Horror Pandemic Flu (which will arrive someday, maybe this year, maybe not), being ready will make things easier if you catch the flu.

Next, have you had your flu shot? Right now, in October, is the time for the really vulnerable folks to get ‘em: That’s the people who are sixty-five or older, the folks with chronic health problems (diabetes, heart disease, asthma, cancer, HIV/AIDS, etc.), pregnant women, children ages 6-23 months, and health-care workers (I’m getting mine at 0745 this coming Thursday). Next month, November, is the right time for the household members who live with the folks listed in the last sentence, people aged fifty to sixty-four, and everyone else. December, January, and February aren’t too late if you haven’t gotten one already, but do try to go early. Flu is nasty, it kills people, and can be prevented.

Which brings us back to the main point of this post: How to Wash Your Hands. Wash your hands before and after preparing food, after using the toilet, and any time they are grossly contaminated. (In between, use pump-action alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.) The single best way to prevent the flu is to wash your hands. But not everyone knows how to do it. Here’s how:

1) Turn on the water and get it to a temperature you like.
2) Lather up using soap. (Soap does not kill germs in the time that the germs are exposed during hand washing. There’s stuff that grows fine on a bar of soap. The surfactant action of soap helps the running water flush the germs away. That’s how it works. It’s purely mechanical. Antibacterial soap is a waste of time and money, and just helps breed antibiotic-resistant bugs.)
3) Rub your hands vigorously together, paying special attention to the fingernails, getting up onto the wrists, for as long as it takes you to sing one stanza of The Star Spangled Banner or two verses of Little Mattie Groves.
4) Rinse off the soap with the running water.
5) Dry your hands with a paper towel.
6) Use the expended paper towel to turn off the water.

As long as we’re on the subject of cleaning, when you clean a surface using bleach to kill germs, remember to use a dilute solution. One part liquid bleach in ten parts water or thereabouts. The reason for this is: Many germs will spore up if confronted with harsh poisons, but won’t if you hit them with a milder dose. Think of it this way: If it’s pouring outside you wear a raincoat, galoshes, a rain hat, and carry an umbrella, and arrive at work fairly dry. But if it’s just misting outside you may not get all geared up like that — and you’ll arrive at work soaked to the skin. So too with bugs and germs.

Go, and be cleanly. And don’t catch the flu. It really is nasty.

Copyright © 2007 by James D. Macdonald

I am not a physician. I can neither diagnose nor prescribe. These posts are presented for entertainment purposes only. Nothing here is meant to be advice for your particular condition or situation.

Creative Commons License
How To Wash Your Hands by James D. Macdonald is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

(Attribution URL:

Index to Medical Posts
Other Flu Posts: [Update from correspondence] A commenter writes:
…it’s not quite correct, particularly in the context of flu, to say that soap does not kill “germs.” It does not kill some bacteria, but it does kill some, and for many viruses, particularly enveloped RNA viruses such as flu and HIV, soap destroys them by solubilizing their lipid- based envelope and lysing the virions.
Reference: Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings


Comments on How To Wash Your Hands:
#1 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 03:31 PM:

I suppose this is obvious, but should a woman trying to get pregnant get a flu shot as well? Or are there any complications involving the shot that may interfere with conception and early pregnancy?

(Yes I sound ignorant; I am in matters concerning what is/isn't safe for not-yet-pregnant women).

#2 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 03:47 PM:

See above, how I'm not a doctor. Please ask a doctor for a real medical opinion.

Speaking purely in a theoretical way ... if flu shots are recommended for pregnant women (and, incidentally, you won't catch the flu from the shot), I don't see that it would hurt.

#3 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 03:51 PM:

John L: if she's already pregnant, she shouldn't (probably) get the flu shot, because it has thimerisol in it, which is bad for fetuses and other living things. Except sometimes they say women should anyway.

If she's just trying to conceive, get the shot.

Also, I'm not supposed to get the shot because I'm somewhat allergic to eggs, and it's in some kind of egg-white base. I get it anyway, because eggs don't send me into shock...yet.

#4 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:05 PM:

Thanks for the advice; my wife gets a flu shot annually but this is the first year where this situation could occur, and I figured better to ask and look ignorant than not and regret it later.

#5 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:11 PM:

... for as long as it takes you to sing one stanza of The Star Spangled Banner or two verses of Little Mattie Groves.

And just how long would that be, for someone who doesn't know either of those songs?

(Hint: world+dog != automatically familiar with American cultural tropes.)

#6 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:11 PM:

While we're on the subject of Clean Things, take a good look around your kitchen, and especially consider getting rid of the kitchen sponge--or else microwave it regularly. Personally, I'd switch dishrags and dishtowels oftener than once a week, especially if someone in the house was sick--but that's just me. The people at that site are still convinced of the value of anti-bacterial cleansers, but I think their suggestions for cleaning with things like white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and mild detergent are worth looking into.

Of course, the more people using your kitchen, or being fed from it, the greater the risk of passing germs around.

Still, your kitchen sponge is a scarier thing than you might realize, and taking steps to cut your risks there is well worth the effort.

#7 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:15 PM:

Mary Dell

I understand (possibly incorrectly) that they've taken thimerosal out of all vaccines in the last five years - not so much because the amount in one dose of vaccine is bad, but there are so many now required for kids that they thought the cumulative dose might be a problem.

#8 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:17 PM:

I had heard that you should wash as long as it takes to sing your ABCs or Happy Birthday. I haven't timed them to see if they're remotely comparable to each other or the Star Spangled Banner, however. (And I've never heard of Little Mattie Groves either.)

#9 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:22 PM:

hmm, are people prone to sinusitis in the higher at risk group?

#10 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:27 PM:

Mary Dell @3: Flu vaccines are cultured in duck egg albumin, as is the virus used in the TB test. If you are going to get the shot, please make sure you have an antihistamine (like Benadryl) with you. I found out I was allergic the hard way...

Charlie Stross @5: Sing "Happy Birthday to You" while washing your hands, it takes roughly the same amount of time as the songs Mr. Macdonald mentioned.

#11 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:29 PM:

Has everyone forgotten how to Google?

The very first hit on Little Mattie Groves is the complete text plus a midi file of the tune.

The answer, for those who don't have Google, is fifteen-to-twenty seconds.

#12 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 5: "Mattie Groves" is a Scottish ballad, and predates the U.S. by somewhat more than a hundred years.

#13 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:34 PM:

How about singing one stanza of "To Anacreon in Heaven"?

#14 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:38 PM:

... or twice through the ABC song/Twinkle Twinkle Little Star/A vous dirai-je, Maman or two verses of Old MacDonald Had a Farm. This is what they taught us when I worked at a hospital.

Be sure to pay attention to your thumbs, particularly the base(s) of them. I learned this from my father, who learned it while working in some nuclear facility.

#15 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:42 PM:

Access to Google, I've got. Speakers, I don't have.

Okay, I do have speakers. But they're built into the case of my computer, which is deep under the desk and very muffled unless I put my head under the desk too.

Nice to learn that the ABC song takes twice to be effective. I never knew that part.

#16 ::: Ian ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:43 PM:

Here in Blighty the official line (from the British National Formulary) is that pregnant women *should* get the flu vaccine, but that it should be a thiomersal free one.

As to the Star Spangled Banner, I make it 55 seconds. So in English that's 1 1/2 verses of God Save the Queen, 2 verses of Rule Britannia, Jerusalem up to "Bring me my bow of burning gold" or two verses of Teenage Kicks plus the bridge.

#17 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Or Little Melvin Groves:

"Rise up, rise up," Lord Donalduck cried
"Ye damn no-good dopehead
For if I shoot ye where ye lie
I'll ruin my waterbed."

"I can't rise up, I won't rise up,
Now what d'ye think of that?
For you have got two wicked guns
And I'm a scaredy-cat."

"I know I've got two wicked guns
I bought 'em wi' my charge-plate
But ye shall have the forty-four
And I the thirty-eight...."

--William Widefarer
#18 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:47 PM:

Since I need feel no shame at admitting to such geekiness here, I have just timed myself with the ABC song, "Happy Birthday*", and the "Star-spangled Banner" (as well as "Old Hundredth", because my grandma would use hymns to time things sometimes, and that one's a traditional timing song among us hillbillies). The first two run around 10 to 15 seconds, depending on how fast you sing them; the US national anthem runs around 45 seconds, sung at a reasonable, non-dragging pace; and, unless your inner organist is a real sluggard, "Old Hundredth" is about a minute long.

Each single verse of the ever-mutating "Old Time Religion" takes a tad over 5 seconds to sing, although I imagine if you were making up the verses as you went it would be slower.

So if Jim would care to give us a time in seconds, folks could choose a tune (or recitation piece**) to suit themselves.

*Original, not "Volga Boatmen" version.

**Sonnets, unless you have a lot of pauses for effect, seem to come in around 30-35 seconds.

#19 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:52 PM:

I think it's also important to avoid touching one's eyes, nose or mouth. If I have to rub my eyes (yeah I know I shouldn't, but I have allergies), blow my nose, or something like that, I try to wash my hands before and after.

#20 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:52 PM:

What we, in Middle English, would call "a Paternoster while."

#21 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:54 PM:

Not only wash your hands but keep them away from your face or other's. Rewash if they do come into face contact. If you handle things like money which is a big time vector for germs be extra careful. Think of all the other hands that piece of cash came into contact with. Handling cash then food bad combo.

#22 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:54 PM:

I need my timing in AGV*s. Won't someone think of the hearts of gold?

* Average Greensleeves Verses

#23 ::: martyn44 ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 04:59 PM:

Had my flu jab last week (I'm a diabetic)

I also had the difference between flu and bad cold pointed out. If you see a $20 note on the floor and pick it up you have a cold. If you don't see the $20 note, you have flu.

Stay well, everyone.

#24 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:04 PM:

Re AGV - I just timed one verse of Greensleeves, with chorus, at 32 seconds. A bit long for hand-washing, but not ridiculously so.

#25 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:06 PM:

And the most important anti-infection tip I know: Don't have kids. Stay away from people who do.

#26 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:08 PM:

If you don't want to get out of bed even for that morning cup of caffeine, it's flu. (I get flu about once every fifteen or twenty years. It's enough to remember what it feels like.)

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:15 PM:

fidelio @ 6... your kitchen sponge is a scarier thing than you might realizehuman

"It was of no human shape!"

#28 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:16 PM:

26 ::: P J Evans wrote:
If you don't want to get out of bed even for that morning cup of caffeine, it's flu. (I get flu about once every fifteen or twenty years. It's enough to remember what it feels like.)

Apparently I've had the flu for years, then...

#29 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:16 PM:

"I am not a doctor but..."

1. Anyone who has constant close contact with a high-risk individual should also be vaccinated; this especially applies to school-age children of high-risk parents.

2. Anyone who has persistant sinus or ear infections or a history of winter bronchitus (and a negative staph culture) might well want to talk to his or her doctor about getting a pneumococcus vaccine.

#30 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:16 PM:

Time to watch The Andromeda Strain again.

#31 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:21 PM:

You lucky sods. I get flu about once a year, and yes, it feels horrible. (I get colds about once a month, excepting for the first two years of my life, which I spent with a *continuous* cold and intermittent pneumonia. Why yes, I *have* had my flu shot... it doesn't seem to stop me getting flu but maybe it makes it less horrible. I don't know, I've never failed to have it and I don't plan to start.)

#32 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:31 PM:

If there is pandemic flu, the first, best, public-health measure is to immediately close the schools.

If the local authorities don't do it, keep your kids home anyway.

#33 ::: noen ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:32 PM:

"Soap does not kill germs."

How do you know?

I never get the flu. The last time I got it was... maybe 30 years ago. I never get anything more a a slight sniffle. I never get infections and I often have scratches on my skin. I never microwave my dish sponge either. Of course I use it every day and it rarely dries out and again, I never get sick or get an upset stomach.

I don't think you know what you think you do.

#34 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:32 PM:

Washing and soap are only 2/3rds of the process -- you have to DRY thoroughly in order to avoid reacquiring germs promptly, as in on the bathroom door handle on the way out with your wet palm.

And instead of turning off the faucet with your hand, if it's a lever, you can use your elbow.

As long as we're discussing flu avoidance, may I humbly promote the frequent use of nasal saline spray, which costs fractions of pennies per dose and yet managed to help flush out the germ catching mucous so very efficiently, especially in the winter, when the air is so dry and cold and sinuses are particularly vulnerable? It's OTC, and you can spray over and over with no fear of overuse.

#35 ::: Ayse ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:43 PM:

I'd like to note a couple things.

1. As noted, a pneumonia shot is also important. For mostly the same risk groups as the flu. You only need one every ten years, but if you're in a high-risk group, it can save your life.

2. When washing your hands, spend some time with fingers laced together to scrub the area between your fingers. You'd be surprised (shocked, stunned, etc) at what will stick around there when all else is clean.

#36 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:44 PM:

noen @ 33: I suspect he's seen studies that involved either taking samples of soap bars to see if they contained germs, or testing to see if germs could successfully be grown on a bar of soap. A 30-second Google reveals only vague references, but I'm no good at searching for scientific studies.

#37 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:47 PM:

Public restrooms often have only antibacterial soap available, which is something I try to avoid on the principle of not encouraging the evolution of resistant strains.

So is it better to use the antibacterial soap, or scrub hands well under running water without soap?

#38 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:48 PM:

How do I know, "noen"? Well, try this (follow the links, too), among hundreds of other references.

Since I'm willing to sign my name and you aren't, why should anyone listen to you?

#39 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Remarkable how quickly the drive-by "Anecdotes are better than facts!" troll showed up.

#40 ::: Zeph ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:53 PM:

What, not a single comment about OCD? This is obsessive as all h*ll.

#41 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:54 PM:

Ursula -- I'd go with soap rather than no-soap.

#42 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 05:59 PM:

noen 33: Hmm, you may be a driveby, or just a clueless first-time poster, but Jim is an EMT and doesn't post so emphatically unless he has backup.

Also, your long paragraph has absolutely no bearing on the rest of your points: it seems to be more a discussion of your immune system than anything else. I'm glad you have a good strong immune system, but that paragraph refutes 'Soap does not kill germs' exactly as well as it refutes 'Towels do not kill germs' - which is to say, not at all.

Now, if you washed the scratches on your left arm with soap, and the scratches on your right arm without, and the ones on your right arm became infected where the others did not, that would at least be an argument, though I would refer you to Jim's description of how soap does help you get germs off your hands, just not by killing them. (I do not, I'd like to emphasize, recommend that you try this experiment.)

As for song timings, me and my friend Lenore, we useta time our bread-kneading by singing "Beren and Luthien" (which we learned to a tune that's a distortion of "The Silkie" twice through per verse of Tolkien's poem). These days I tend to sing it to a bouncier tune of my own devising, and that wouldn't work, but I also don't knead bread very evens out. Sort of.

#43 ::: Jurie ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:00 PM:

>>for as long as it takes you to sing one stanza of The Star Spangled Banner or two verses of Little Mattie Groves.

Um. What? I'm from Europe, how much is that in seconds? :)

#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:03 PM:

When I go to my floor's washroom, I don't push the door open with my fingertips. You see, there's this man who, after answering Nature's Call, never washes his hands. I bet you he's never lived with a woman. And he probably never lifts the toilet seat.

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:04 PM:

ethan 39: Yes, it does have the ring of "I always say 'Rabbit! Rabbit!' upon arising and I've never been struck by lightning" about it, doesn't it?

#46 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:06 PM:

Jim D. McDonald @32, it's not just a matter of pandemics; in a normal flu cycle, even a vaccinated adult is vulnerable to infection from their sick offspring. Keeping ones kids home from November to February is fine in theory but, in practice, attracts all sorts of negative attention.

And, being the high risk adult in question, it's easier to get a college student with a high public exposure job to have a vaccination than it is to get him to stay home. We've discussed the matter of when to decide to stay home already, but at this point I can only persuade.

I've actually survived a flu epidemic already: February 1978, when the town of Pullman and WSU shut down with the Russian Flu. I've seen estimates that 65% of the population had the disease over a two week period. Classes were cancelled; at one point the radio station went off the air. There was a day or so when the only sounds I heard were other people coughing and the infrequent flush of a toilet: no cars in the street, nothing moving at all.

And that was a "normal" flu, remarkable only because of its high infection rate.

#47 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:08 PM:

Anyone get the feeling this has been posted somewhere? There sure are a lot of dopey first-timers here.

We have noen, who is logic-challenged; Zeph, who's insulting, and Jurie, who committed the comparatively minor sin of not reading the thread before posting a comment (and which of us has not, I ask you). All on their first posts here. How very odd that they would just happen by here.

#48 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:11 PM:

After the UV light test in the Food Safety certification course I know all to well what is on ones hands and the difference good washing makes.
The local stores always run out of inventory of the individual alcohol wipes which are great to carry around in the pocket.

#49 ::: Marna ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:19 PM:

Wash your hands before and after preparing food, after using the toilet ...

My Nurse Practitioner actually suggested before and after using the toilet, her reasoning being that if putting a germ covered hand on or next to a mucus membrane is unwise when it's your eyes, it's bad when it's your bits, too.

And thank you for another excellently useful post.

#51 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:26 PM:

To add a bit late: I work in a hospital, Infection Control tells us 20 seconds. I usually sing the first verse of "Henry the 8th" by Herman's Hermits, though "Happy Birthday" is what is usually recommended as a common song.

I figure if people are sick enough to be admitted to the hospital, I want to avoid their germs. I also clean my keyboard, mouse, and phone on a regular basis. Some of the bugs people here harbor are scary. Can we say MRSA? ::shudder::

#52 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:28 PM:

T.W @ 48

We did a culture, back in advanced biology in HS, of whatever was living on a fingertip. Staph, mostly, IIRC.

#53 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:29 PM:

Oh -- for the experimentally minded -- culture the scrapings off a bar of soap.

Tell me again about how soap kills germs on your hands. A bar of soap is just going to cross-contaminate you unless the running water flushes the bad stuff away.

#54 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:32 PM:

Things I Hate, part 1138:

"Liquid Hand Sanitizer."

I ran into this the week before last, on a plane. The bathroom sink was broken, and they put out a bottle of Purel or what-not. Apparently, you're supposed to rub this stuff all around your hands and keep rubbing until . . . when? Even if the stuff was a mixture of alcohol, bleach, and benzene I can't imagine the stuff actually getting your hands clean.

* * *

I think people have a ritual, or perhaps symbolic, view of sanitation. Effectively getting the schmutz off is less important than:

Application of purifying substance (dab of soap, hand sanitizer).

Performance of prescribed ritual (pouring of water on hands with two-handled vessel; dunking in specific river).

Interesting, the Real Deal appears to be a careful combination of these two.

#55 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:40 PM:

Jim @ 53

Well, at least most public facilities use liquid soap in dispensers, which may minimize the problem.
I hate those air-blower dryers, though. And the alcohol-gel hand-sanitizers.

#56 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:40 PM:

Last year Levitt and Dubner of Freakonomics fame published a NY Times article on hand washing, call Selling Soap. I loved the part where they culture the hands of staff members. Heh.

PS to Xopher: Looks like Cory linked to this from BoingBoing, hence the new faces.

#57 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:40 PM:

I also clean my keyboard, mouse, and phone on a regular basis.

What's the best way to clean such things? Telephone cleaning wipes as sold in office supply stores, or something else?

#58 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:43 PM:

Hand sanitizer gives a clean feeling, but doesn't get anything off. It smells like alcohol (and it should-- it's a less sugary jello shot) and it dries your hands out, so you must be clean, right?

In Microbiology, we incubated bacteria with soap. If the antibiotics in antibacterial soap kill bacteria while you're washing, shouldn't they kill bacteria during an hour-long incubation? As expected, not a significant difference. We also touched plates to see what was on our fingers, and then washed, then touched, then washed, and it was only after two washings that there was any difference. We ended up with more bacteria after one wash, supposedly because we'd stripped the bacteria of anything sticky. However, we also weren't supposed to wipe our hands dry very aggressively.

I'm another one that doesn't clean as well as I could. I've avoided illness seemingly by my own immune system-- that and washing my hands a lot. If you work in a lab, with nasties and chemicals galore, you get weird about that.

#59 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:47 PM:

P.J. 52, Oh I know.
I and others round here have actually endured the food poisoning that comes from stalph contamination. Common and nasty. But god do you feel better once the purge stage is done.

Flu is rare in this house about once every 7 years now. I used to get sick every year when I worked retail. Seriously people if you got it stay home stop spreading it around to every one. The number of half dead customers at Christmas I had to deal with. Getting that photo frame is not worth making others sick.

#60 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:49 PM:

Diatryma @58, hand sanitizer isn't intended to "get anything off", it's intended to kill things, so that anything left is "clean dirt", as it were. (My most common use of the stuff is while camping, when hot water is hard to come by, so it's soap & cold water followed by hand sanitizer). It is true that some stuff on the market (IIRC from a study mentioned in the news a year or so ago) doesn't have a high enough concentration of alcohol to be effective, but that doesn't mean that even the higher-concentration varieties are useless.

I fail to see the connection between hand sanitizer and "antibacterial soap", however, the latter which is (as you know) not only useless but actively harmful in the long term.

#61 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:50 PM:

I work in an office with a fair amount of shared equipment.

One such is an old Sun workstation in a hardware lab. Many of the keyboard keys had accumulated black/brown plaques of dirt and skin oil.

Now, I'm not an especially fastidious person. I pick up dog shit with naught but a thin plastic bag between my fingers and the dump; I do not freak out when my dog, an enthusiastic consumer of cat crap, licks my hand. I clean up the bathroom floor without rubber gloves.

But there's something about a black-stained keyboard that I find utterly revolting. I still used it, mind you, but I eventually had enough:

A few months back I got a bottle of White Board cleaner (no ingredients listed, but it's a "combustible eye irritant") and some paper towels and really let that keyboard have it. The cleaner did a great job. I'm sure the shared keyboard still has germs, but at least it doesn't look like it.

#62 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:51 PM:

Fidelio @ 6:
I always throw my sponge in when I run a load of dishes; I suppose there's no evidence of whether that works better or worse than microwaving?

A more general question: I got pneumonia last November; does that put me at greater risk of getting it this year? Do I worry about a cold developing into pneumonia, or the pneumonia coming on out of the blue. (Ha! Trick question - I worry about both. I'm a champion worry-wart.) I have a toddler at home, so the colds are inevitable.

#63 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:51 PM:

Lexica @ 57: I use a two step process a lab tech I used to work with shared, I've never asked here at work (note to self -- track down IC or a Pathologist and ask).

Use a dilute bleach solution saturating a cloth, wipe everything down, the cloth should be moist but not dripping. Everything I have is hard plastic*, so the bleach shouldn't hurt it. Repeat with a Hydrogen Peroxide solution.

Her premise what she didn't kill with one would be taken out by the other. She worked with the toxicology folks, so I figured she knew what she was doing. Of course, now I'm wondering if she did. I'm certainly going to have to go and ask . . .

Thanks for provoking me, in a good way!

*Added benefit - I don't have nasty keyboard/mouse/phone cruft!

#64 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:54 PM:

Any thoughts on the utility of germicidal ultraviolet lights?

I had 3 fluorescent lights, each taking 2 24" tubes, which I originally used to harden emulsion in a photo-process. When I was working with students in a small computer lab a few years ago, I rigged up something so if a student had been coughing and sniffling, I could expose his keyboard and mouse to UV overnight (this was unfiltered UV, and you weren't supposed to let it get into your eyes for any length of time). I don't think I could claim I was cold-free that winter, but maybe it helped some.

I've wondered if there would be any benefit to setting up something like this in a kitchen, run off a timer so it could run overnight.

#65 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 06:58 PM:

Rubbing alcohol straight out of the bottle on a swab cleans keyboards really well and will not damage circuits if it gets in the cracks. Cheap as well.

#66 ::: Ruth Temple ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:05 PM:

Any Brits or Europeans (who don't happen to know Little Matty Groves - and why not?) might prefer the old drinking song that F. Scott Key was filking from in Baltomore Harbor one evening.
Too few folks who know it, learn beyond the first verse, which is a pity, even if rawther too long for continuing to wash one's hands:

To Anareon in Heav'n, where he sat in full glee
A few sons of harmony sent a petition
That he their inspirer and patron would be
When this answer came down from the jolly old Grecian
"Voice, fiddle, and flute
No longer be mute
I'll lend you my name
and inspire you, to boot!
And likewise I'll teach you
Like me to entwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine!"

The rest of the verses lie here on the shelf,
If you want for to sing them, go fetch them yourself:

#67 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:05 PM:

I'm not real enthusiastic about alcohol-based hand sanitizers (in conjunction with dry New England winter air they tend to result in lots of nasty cracked skin and split cuticles which promptly get very uncomfortable) with one exception:


I am SO GLAD to see that wall-mount box with the fluorescent goop inside it.

Cause, you know, portable toilets. They beat p'ssing on the walls, but not by much.

#68 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:10 PM:

When I was a nursing student on a hospital rotation, the infections person told us that they had taken samples from the pump packs of antibacterial handwash on the wards, and found it full of bacteria: the mechanics of washing your hands is what gets the germs off. Warm water is better too, than cold. We were told to think of our hands as having planes, and to make sure you washed them all, sides of fingers and all (also to rinse off from fingertips to elbow, so that if any bacteria is left on your skin, it ends up on your elbows where you can't paste it all over Mrs Whatsit's open wound).

Re transferring bacteria from one place to another: I used to always lick a cotton bud before using it in my ear (I don't know why, but note I say "used to") until the time I had a sore throat, did it, and ended up with a painful ear infection.

#69 ::: LinD ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Unfortunately, flu shots kick my allergy response into high gear. I got a flu shot, had a three month nasty head cold, followed by a year without shot or long head cold (I did get the flu), followed by a year with flu shot and three month nasty head cold. I realized it wasn't a head cold when I had to be presentable for a public appearance - and couldn't even reduce the symptoms with my normal flu and cold killers*. As I told my physician, I can deal with and subdue the flu, even grim flu. But a three month head-cold-like allergy reaction is more than I want to deal with.

I did get a pneumonia shot.

*Vitamin C, zinc, chicken soup, more vitamin C, etc. Massive doses of antihistamines pretty much does in the "I have to make a public appearance" thing.

#70 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Rob @ 24: That is cool.

Check out the UV Disinfectant Wand.

#71 ::: elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Thanks Jim - while my family and I are pretty hand-washing savvy, I didn't know about the bleach concentration thing. What about those "sanitizing wipes" for surfaces and whatnot? Any idea if those are at an effective strength?

As far as kids as disease vectors - my daughter hasn't brought home one cold this year or last, because the school is focusing heavily on hand washing, mouth covering, and using hand sanitizer in between. There hasn't been one 10-kids-out-of-class-with-cold incident. A far break from when I was a kid, for sure.

I wish I could say the same for work, where people cough, sneeze, and don't wash their hands to their heart's content.


#72 ::: LinD ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:16 PM:

Oh, I forgot to say thank you for the info on soap. I had no idea... I'll pass it on to my collection of nephews, and mothers of same.

#73 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:25 PM:

Tania @70: Thanks for the link! I would not have expected that UV was so effective that a 10 second exposure would be sufficient (though that may depend on the UV source, too).

#74 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:25 PM:

Oh, I also wanted to thank Jim for the explanation of why to use a 1-in-10 dilution for bleach. That's the ratio that's recommended for cleaning bird cages, and although I've been willing to take the experts' word for it, I've always wondered why stronger isn't better.

It's my understanding, again from bird cage cleaning, that the 10% bleach solution should be used reasonably promptly, as it loses effectiveness if it sits for too long — so no mixing a huge batch and storing it for later.

#75 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:27 PM:

And likewise I'll teach you
Like me to entwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine!"

Ever since learning this verse, I've said that this makes "To Anacreon In Heav'n" the eighteenth-century forerunner of Jimmy Buffet's "Why Don't We Get Drunk And Screw."

#76 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:32 PM:

Two notes:

Alcohol hand gels are effective at reducing certain illnesses, but they should be at least 60 percent alcohol.

A study announced today says that MRSA is a bigger killer than previously thought, with 95,000 infections killing 20,000 people in 2005.

#77 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:38 PM:

noen @ 33 - I'm a homebrewer. Soap does not kill anything. It cleans things, which is an essential first step in sanitizing things. Dirt hides bacteria and wild yeasts from the sanitizing agents.
Bleach is an excellent sanitizing agent, except that it can cause extreme off-flavors in beer, so you have to let anything sanitized with bleach dry thoroughly, or you have to rinse, both of which mean you have the chance of desanitizing the sanitized equipment. There are other, no-rinse, sanitizers, but they're either more expensive, or have other risks and tradeoffs.
Also, remember, please, bleach is highly reactive. Do NOT mix with other cleaning products.
Bleach also works best in cold water. Warm water tends to let the bleach break down faster. Not that it should matter to much in the concentrations and time it takes to wipe down the kitchen.

#78 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:41 PM:

I'm getting my flu shot this Saturday. I'm getting my pneumonia vaccine in a couple of weeks. I have found the flu shots to be remarkably effective for the last 5 - 6 years, and because of that, I always get one. I can live with a cold, even, usually, function on a minimal level. (Answer phone, stare stupidly at monitor screen, drive, feed the cats and the dog, read...) Flu, not so much. And my cats and my dog all really like to be fed.

#79 ::: firefly ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:49 PM:

Actually, when you wash your hands, you should be especially careful to get the webs between fingers -- not just rub the palms together.

Be really, really careful about rubbing your eyes if you haven't been able to wash your hands recently. That is a common route of bacterial entry. (Naturally, an eyelash or two always lands in my eye when I'm working in the garden.)

And don't forget to ask your doctor or nurse if THEY washed their hands before attending to you. Lots of them think they don't have time.

Scary studies have been published about the bacteria count in physicians' neckties ...

#80 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:49 PM:

I have a stopwatch feature on my cellphone, and using it timed myself "singing"* the Alphabet Song** at 17.5 seconds.

* Actually, subvocalizing. Not out loud. I'm at work, in a library, after all.
** Knowing the ABCs is especially helpful to librarians, although not as much as it used to be when we had real card catalogs, i.e. with real cards. (Even more so when I remember filing the d**n cards!) The thought of those grimy and even tattered cards and all the fingers brushing past them make me happy for computerized catalogs, though, in the light of cold/flu/other nasty stuff season.

#81 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:54 PM:

Diatryma: the variant I got (in an introductory pharmaceutical microbiology course) was this:

Take three sterile agar plates.

Open one, take a thumbprint impression, and incubate.

Wash your hands with soap.

Open one, take a thumbprint impression, and incubate.

Wash your hands with chlorhexidine (or povidone iodine) surgical scrub. Note: not hand sanitizer, not disinfectant soap, but the stuff surgeons use when they're scrubbing up.

Open one, take a thumbprint impression, and incubate.

The unwashed print was a jungle after 48 hours; the soap-and-water print was similar. Only the surgical scrub showed less growth -- much less, but still some.

Bacteria are tenacious, and exponential growth with a generation time of 40-60 minutes mean that leaving even one bacillus per square centimetre means you're going to be back to a normal population inside ten to twenty hours. All disinfection buys you is time (which, admittedly, is exactly what your immune system needs in order to get on top of the problem).

#82 ::: Ayse ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:56 PM:

Sarah @62: if you had pneumonia last year, your doctor should tell you to get a pneumonia shot this year -- if that is not the case I would ask why. I had pneumonia twice in four years, and it was definitely much worse the second time; now I stay up to date on the shots (the last one I got was good for ten years).

#83 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:56 PM:

Oh, and now that I've read forward a bit, let me clarify. Hot water for cleaning. It's just the bleach sanitizer that should be cold, or room temp.

Another thing to keep in mind is that contact time is very important. Bleach takes a good 15 minutes to work at any reasonable concentration. That is, a concentration that isn't going to be corrosive or destructive to what you're trying to clean.

#84 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Where does the myth soap kills germs come from? Kill aphids yes but germs no. Soap is to keep germs and dirt from hanging on while you scrub and rinse.

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:06 PM:

How long did the MythBusters figure it takes for a dirty surface to contaminate whatever food falls on it? Five seconds? (Do you really want to eat that very last bit of cheese?)

#86 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:25 PM:

ai! I have dogs. Big, slobbery, poo-eating dogs. I yam doom'd..


Seriously, though, who determined that restroom doors that open in were a good idea? Or those flaps on trash cans?

#87 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:27 PM:

Ayse @ 82

Thanks for that; I'll give my doctor a call tomorrow.

#88 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:29 PM:

Steve @ 77: Do you use the bleach for homebrewing, or one of those more expensive options?

I'm thinking of trying my first batch of beer soon...

#89 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:30 PM:

JESR @ 46
Keeping ones kids home from November to February is fine in theory but, in practice, attracts all sorts of negative attention.

You're much better off farming them out to someone else for those months. :-)

#90 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:35 PM:

I wonder if spraying your hands with some sort of beneficial (or at least, nonproblematic) bacteria would be useful in creating an ecological balance that drove out unhelpful bacteria?

In fact, you could genetically engineer bacteria that created pleasant smells, or moisturized, or some such... ;)

#91 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:40 PM:

We just spent two months with no working bathroom*. In the interim we had a rented PortaPotty sitting in the driveway. The rental company's solution to the problem of hand sanitation was a dispenser for waterless hand cleaner. I used it just as something to keep between my hands and the door as I left; we still had laundry and kitchen sinks working, so we washed with soap in them immediately. I really wonder how often the workers who use PortaPotties regularly come down with diseases transmitted through them.

* They're working now, a lot better than before, and they look nicer, too.

#92 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:43 PM:

An acquaintance of mine was diagnosed yesterday with real-live-hello-honestly-we-really-mean-it influenza. It's out there. Wash your damned hands. Thanks.

#93 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 08:50 PM:

Ahh, Making Light.

90 comments in a little over 5 hours on the topic of hand washing.

Are we geeky, or what?

#94 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 09:02 PM:

It is a public health action any one can do and every one can benefit from. The simple things can make really big differences.

#95 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 09:05 PM:

Rob@64: Any thoughts on the utility of germicidal ultraviolet lights?

The emergency room nearby has them in the waiting room with big "Do NOT stare at blue light!" signs, which only makes me want to print up a sheet that says "Do NOT think of an elephant." right below it.

I seem to remember that the Physics for Future Presidents course explaining that ultraviolet light breaks DNA bonds, which means it kills bacteria, viruses, and skin cells, if strong enough.

And I'm pretty sure that bacteria and viruses can't evolve to be resistant to ultraviolet. Not unless they change to the point that they aren't relying on standard DNA organic chemistry. But given evolution's tenacity, I wouldn't bet the whole farm on that one.

Not sure how bright it would have to be to sterilize the air in a room or something.

#96 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 09:07 PM:

P J Evans @ 52

There's an even scarier experiment that's part of repeating Pasteur's refutation of spontaneous generation: take a petri dish of sterile culture medium, lift the top off for 10 seconds and put it back. Wait a couple of days. The stuff that's growing in the dish now is what was floating in the air and managed to get into the dish in that 10 seconds. Rhetorical questions; how much of that gets on everything you touch?

#97 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 09:11 PM:

Things can be UV-resistant, just as they can be heat-resistant, gamma resistant, et cetera. It takes work, though. Extremophiles are wonderful things, but they are not typically found on my hands.

#98 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 09:13 PM:

I used to pick up colds at conventions. I started a program of obsessive hand washing (when at cons) and stopped getting sick. I suspect many other ML readers have had a similar experience.

#99 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 09:26 PM:

Bacteria rule the Earth. You're not going to get them all, but do you want to? What proportion are actually pathogenic? Anthro-pathogenic, even (is that a word)?

#100 ::: Karen ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 09:44 PM:

Re the antibacterial soaps as menace: I was worried about this (and the antibacterial cutting boards) when they first came out, but I have seen some studies saying they do not cause resistance to develop, although they also aren't any more effective than bacteriostatic soap.

Re the alcohol based hand washes, studies on that showed that doctors had less germs when using those between patients than in washing their hands. I suspect it has to do with taking those twenty seconds to really scrub. It's still recommended to use soap and water for the bathroom and before eating, but the touching your face or other people the wash is good. (Remember to use enough to make your hands feel wet.)

Flu shots are officially recommended for women who will be pregnant during flu season; also for parents of children under 6 months old.

Having had pneumonia once is not a particular indication to have the pneumonia vaccine. On the other hand, it shouldn't hurt anything to have it.

Then there's the discussion of the proper way to use tissues (throw them away afterward) and to sneeze (into your elbow or sleeve, which is awkward the first dozen times you do it.)

The CDC website has a lot of good information about the flu. Including that the first few cases do seem to match up to the vaccine again this year. Also a page about thimerosol in flu vaccines.

For the record, I am a real family doctor, but please consult your own doctor for official opinion.

#101 ::: Gluon ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 09:57 PM:

I got the flu shot last year. I got the pneumonia shot this year.

The flu shot did not prevent me from getting terrible, aching week long flu due to the pneumonia shot.*


*which is not to say I expected it to, just that ... well. Shots aren't supposed to get you sick, is the general idea we're meant to get, right?

#102 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 10:31 PM:

Everything in the Flu Pre-Pack (except the Merck Manual, but I'm experienced in evaluating my lung condition) is always in my condo.

I had my flu shot yesterday (Jim, you left kidney disease off the list) when I saw the rheumatologist for two new gout tophi (my uric acid has been normal for a couple of years, so technically, I can't have new tophi).

I spend most of my time at home, so I don't get exposed as often as most people do, but since I have lung damage, when I get something, I get to talk to the doctor, even if it's just a cold.

fidelio, #6, if you use cellulose sponges (as most people do), you can clean them in the dishwasher. I have a little cage thingie that's meant for baby stuff that I put light items in, and the sponge goes in there.

JESR, #29, I've had three pneumovax so far. And fortunately, my tetanus is up to date because I accidentally stuck a needle in my finger two nights ago.

noen, #33, we know soap doesn't kill bacteria because there's been studies and tests done. Feel free to use google.

Tania, #51, central Virginia just had a student die of MRSA and 21 schools in that area are closed to be disinfected. It started with a batch of football players.

firefly, #79, when I was checked by the resident after my vocal cord surgery (which is why I just count and don't sing) and he not only didn't wash his hands in the room but pulled out used gloves to check my wound, I insisted he wash his hands where I could see it and get new gloves. And then I reported him to the otolaryngologist.

Karen, #100, I normally use hankies, but the minute I get something respiratory, I get the tissues out of the closet and grab an empty bag and haul them around with me.

#103 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 10:51 PM:

Marilee, I'm just about exactly 10 years out from my first pneumovac, and by that fact also ten years from my last major ear infection and case of "bronchitus" after having both every winter since childhood.

My school and work experience would probably been improved more by having access to that vaccine than treatment for my ADHD, and that's a strong statement of how much better my life is because of it.

Tetanus? I get those on the schedule recommended for vets and vet techs, because I'm living with horses.

#104 ::: noen ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 10:53 PM:

What a hate filled reception. My first thought was "Wow, interesting blog, maybe I'll stick around." But you put an end to that pretty quickly. I'll never come to this fucking blog ever again. Thanks folks.

All I did was follow the link from boingboing and ask a simple question followed with a few personal anecdotes. For that I get shit on by the likes of you. You might want to re-examine this "making light" BS of yours. From over here all you are doing is patting each other on the back and making enemies of anyone who happens by. Way to take the high road.

"Since I'm willing to sign my name and you aren't, why should anyone listen to you?"

I wasn't asking you to listen to me. I wasn't lecturing you or anyone. I asked a question. Do you also not listen to "fidelio" and "shadowsong" since they also do not use their real names?

BTW John, I followed the link and read the CDC report. Nowhere did I see an answer to my question. What I saw was a lot of good pragmatic advice for the general population and slightly different advice for healthcare professionals. All of which was backed by research showing those who wash are better off than those who don't, more or less and with a few caveats, (surgeons shouldn't shower too soon before entering the operating room) and so on.

Here is the truth, soaps or detergents really do kill bacteria. They do so by dissolving the bacterial cell wall. This is probably not as important as the mechanical action of washing followed by rubbing with a paper or cloth towel. None of this makes your hands sterile and you wouldn't want to anyway. John's advice is actually very good but the idea that soap does not kill bacteria is false.

So gosh kids, thanks sooo much for the warm welcome. Good luck with the "making light" thing. Concept is good but the execution needs work. This could have been a positive interaction but you chose otherwise. Is this how you treat all newcomers? How's that working out for you? I suspect you thought you were "defending" John from some evil interloper, you guessed wrong. I suggest you all read Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder. It has some good advice for you along the lines of "How not to be an ass". Good luck.

#105 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 10:59 PM:

Kidney disease is in the "etc."

But yeah, kidney disease too.

You need two things to happen at once in order to get sick: 1) you have to have a sufficient number of the disease-causing organisms hitting you all at the same time, and 2) you have to have low resistance to them.

The flu shot raises your resistance (just as having diabetes, say, lowers your resistance). Washing your hands lowers the number that'll hit you all at once.

Again, nothing's perfect and nothing's guaranteed. You just want to tip the odds a little bit further in your favor.

#106 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:06 PM:

So what is the Germ Brigade's take on seasoning one's iron skillet?

I'm not talking about the do-not-soak commandment, nor the hot-or-cold-water argument, nor the soap-or-no-soap debate. I'm talking about the very basic-most practice of creating a baked-on non-stick coating of lard, shortening, or oil.

I mean, in the soap-or-no-soap debate, I go with soap. It may result in some degradation of the non-stick layer, but that's better than random icky bits of food or excess oil left on my kitchenware to become rancid and incubate germs. (Also, see above.)

But isn't the oil/fat coating itself potentially an icky bit of food left on my kitchenware to become rancid and incubate germs?

On the other hand, trying to use an *unseasoned* iron skillet is a nightmare.

And I think I'm beginning to swear off teflon after watching our wedding-gift T-Fal frying pans slowly come to bits and having to throw them away for fear of teflon bits in my scrambled eggs. (What did I do wrong? Mom's T-Fals remain in good shape, and they're older than ours were. I never used the hard green scrubby side of the sponge nor metal untensils! Maybe I overheated them?)

And stainless steel is nice, but it lacks the heat dynamics of iron or soapstone. The latter supposedly doesn't really need seasoning, as it's naturally non-stick, but I've only ever seen it used for pots, not frying pans.

So. What's a germ conscious user of cast-iron cookware to do? Maybe just wash it with soap and warm water briefly before each use?

#107 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:12 PM:

I think that, by the time the cast-iron is up to cooking temperature, the "germ" problem is solved.

Oh, and "noen": work on your own presentation some, pal. You aren't sending the message you think you are.

#108 ::: noen ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:15 PM:

"So what is the Germ Brigade's take on seasoning one's iron skillet?"

Wow.. I mean just wow. What an incredibly stupid question. (Hey! See how that works? I'm making light! I bet Nicole and I are gonna be the best of friends right? Right?)

Not too many living organisms can withstand temps of 300 to 400 degrees. This has been another episode of blindingly obvious answers to incredibly stupid questions you should already know. Thanks for viewing.

#109 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:16 PM:

Oh hai! i can has FLAMR BINGO.

whadduz i can has win?

(translation: "When you come in here with fists flying..." and "people challenging your claims, or asking you to back up your claims, with facts is not shitting on you..." and "you gotta earn the cred before you engage in hostile rhetoric..." and all that good stuff.)

#110 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:16 PM:

noen, #104:

"All I did was follow the link from boingboing and ask a simple question followed with a few personal anecdotes."

Plus your last line "I don't think you know what you think you do." Perhaps on your home planet, that's innocent and non-confrontational.

"For that I get shit on by the likes of you."

Evidently you think that getting shit on by "the likes of us" is worse than getting shit on by, I don't know, regular people. Which raises the question of exactly what kind of attitude toward "the likes of us" you must have brought over in the first place. From here you seem to be saying, in essence, "I was perfectly polite to you fools, knaves, and shitheads, and you had the nerve to not recognize my obvious superiority to you."

I do sometimes think that the immune system of Making Light's commentariat is dialed a little high. (For instance, I didn't instantly process Zeph's #40 as "rude." A joke that didn't quite fire, I thought.) I sometimes think we should work a little harder to cut slack for newcomers. But you know something? Not in your case.

#111 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:19 PM:

re 106:
icole, do-'t worry about your skillet. Germs cooked at high temperature are very low risk. If you must worry, worry about seaso-ed wood salad bowls.

(I'm havi-g a keyboard problem. I feel like I'm tryi-g to type i- the middle of a Lem story.)

#112 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:21 PM:

I think that, by the time the cast-iron is up to cooking temperature, the "germ" problem is solved.

True, but given the 10-seconds-to-infected experiment posted above which demonstrates all the germs flying around in the air, what prevents the oil layer from getting infected after it cools?

Maybe I'm just demonstrating how long it's been since I actually took a food-handler's test (and then, having passed, went to work at the cafeteria surrounded by co-workers and supervisors who ignored everything in the manual, *sigh*), but now that I think about it, what makes lard on a seasoned pan any different from sufficiently cooked meat products left out on a counter to come to room temperature as far as risk of food poisoning goes?

Thanks in advance!

#113 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:22 PM:

I can has pinata?

#114 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:25 PM:

Nicole,106, if you would like to clean the iron of food debris without removing the seasoning layer,which when done right is tar not food, dry scrub with baking soda then rinse with hottest of water then heat up to dry then cool down and freshly oil.
People even with dead bacteria you can still get food poisoning of the intoxication kind. Some germs leave behind nasty chemical waste that contaminate your foods and do not go down well at all. See botulism.

#115 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:25 PM:

Adrian, whatever happened to your N key? I'm worried that your E key might be next, and then it's being force-fed corrasible bond or onion skin or whatever it was Annie brought home for her captive writer in Misery. And then your thumb. It'll all end with someone getting a typewriter to the back of the head, I just know it!

(Seasoned salad bowls are lacking in this house, for exactly the reason mentioned. But I would dearly love a nice wooden bowl to mix sushi rice in, that I would.)

#116 ::: noen ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:25 PM:

I got your name wrong James, sorry about that. Still looking for any proof that soap detergents do not kill bacteria. "Go Ask Alice" and "Myth Busters" don't really make it as scientific references in my book. The CDC reference was good but didn't really address my question.

All I did James, was ask a simple question and I got attitude from you about it. I admit that I am now giving attitude in return. Honestly, I didn't come here with one, though I sure as hell got one now. Why do you suppose that is?

#117 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:26 PM:

Thanks, T.W., also, for the tip.

#118 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:28 PM:

I think the difference is that lard on a pan can incubate germs, but you'll always heat it up and kill them before you eat. Food left out and cooling may not be heated between plate and eating.

I agree that sometimes we the fluorosphere are quick to bite. My own trolldar is rather less sensitive than many here, perhaps because I haven't had as much experience. However, even I could see noen was fighting.

#119 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:32 PM:


"All I did James, was ask a simple question and I got attitude from you about it. I admit that I am now giving attitude in return. Honestly, I didn't come here with one, though I sure as hell got one now. Why do you suppose that is?"


Because you're a known variety of idiot!

Next question?

#120 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:36 PM:

My goodness, noen. To quote your own initial post: "I don't think you know what you think you do."

I took that closing of yours to be hostile. If there's some other reading I'd be glad to learn of it.

In the fifteen-to-twenty seconds that are involved in hand-washing, soap doesn't kill germs. It just helps move them around. That's a fact.

For that matter, since "germs" is a pretty broad term, I'd be grateful for some information that shows soap kills the flu virus.

Bars of soap can be contaminated and can help spread germs from one person to another. Some organisms can live for a long time on them. That's another fact.

Sorry you aren't having a good time here.

#121 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:37 PM:

Your welcome Nicole. The goal is to clean to the fused carbon layer without removing it. I use a high temp oil like peanut for my cast iron not lard though as most lard is salted and the salt reacts with the iron. Also the soda will reverse minor rust on the iron.

#122 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:40 PM:

Oh, thanks, TW; I completely forgot botulism et al. I'm usually so interested in the living microbes that their byproducts are just... eh. Byproducts.

Noen, would you accept that the germicidal effects of soap do not contribute meaningfully to hand-washing? I've incubated bacteria in soap (straight*, 1:10 with water, and 1:100 with water) and they still survived. The bacterial cell wall is a pretty complex thing compared to the eukaryotic cell membrane (yes, apples and oranges) and I'm not confident that the thirty-second scrub with detergent would be enough to break it up. The cells would be washed away by the detergent and mechanical action, especially if you wash twice or more**.

I really wish I had a decent microbiology lab***. We've just gone over our sterile hood trying to find the source of the contaminant that's eaten everyone's research. Wash with alcohol, bleach, UV overnight, the works.
And you want to talk sterile, we have people doing RNA work.

*for those of you interested in testing liquid soap, don't do this. It's a pain to pipet and you will never be able to spread a proper plate.
**this is personal experience from an undergrad microbiology course. I don't remember if we did a treatment with no soap, but the only thing that killed all the bacteria on our skin was iodine.
***my standards are unattainably high.

#123 ::: noen ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:42 PM:

"I don't think you know what you think you do." That is confrontational!? Really? That is just bizarre. Then you go on to say "Making Light's commentariat is dialed a little high". No shit and interesting word choice there. You compare your own blog commentors to Soviet style rule and I'm the one that's out of line?

I know, let's do a little thought experiment shall we? Take a culture of staff and add a drop or two of any liquid detergent, incubate. What do you think the results will be? Unless I've suddenly been transported to Bizzaro World I've got a pretty good idea what will happen. But I have an open mind so if anyone can prove me wrong I'm up for it. I'll even apologize.

You made the claim, prove it.

#124 ::: pjcamp ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:46 PM:

A little knowledge . . .

Antibacterial soap does not breed antibiotic resistance in bacteria for the simple reason that antibacterial soap does not contain antibiotics. There is a huge difference between antibiotics and antiseptics. One acts within the body, the other does not. This is not to say that resistance is not a potential problem, just that it will not be antibiotic resistance. The antibacterial component in soap is usually triclosan, a powerful wide spectrum antibacterial and antifungal agent. A 1998 article in Nature theorizes that triclosan-resistant strains might develop, in a manner analogous to antibiotic resistance. Several subsequent experimental studies, including one by the original author, have failed to find significant development of triclosan resistance.

Also, soap is an effective microbicide, not just a binding agent, due to its ability to break down oils. All bacterial cell membranes are lipid bilayers, which are oil-based. Soap rips them to shreds.

#125 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:52 PM:

Noen, I've done that. We were seeing if soaps containing antibiotics killed more bacteria than plain soaps. When we plated the cultures, we had colonies on every plate. Not a lot (see above regarding the perils of pipetting straight soap) but they were there. The first time we did it, we tested both Gram neg and Gram pos bacteria-- one has a much thicker cell wall than the other. Both grew. I'm pretty sure neither of them were spore-forming, so we avoided that mess.

pjcamp, bacterial cell membranes are lipid bilayers, but they also have cell walls. While the bilayer of a cell might dissolve with detergent, the cell wall is tough stuff. What kills an animal cell may not kill a bacterial cell.

#126 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:54 PM:

"Then you go on to say 'Making Light's commentariat is dialed a little high'. No shit and interesting word choice there. You compare your own blog commentors to Soviet style rule and I'm the one that's out of line?"

You are a crazy person, and I'm not going to argue with you, because I'll just get crazy-person all over me.

#127 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:54 PM:

Let me chime in here...
noen, a simple Google of soap and bacteria will give you this. There's even a few Kiddie sites which should bring it down to your level of understanding. I'd paraphrase it for you but I believe people should do their own damn homework.
Ynfgyl Oeraqn IbaNufra n.x.n. abra --- yrg'f abg or ehqr gb sbyxf urer. Fgvyy yvivat va ZA? Ubj'f gur jrngure gurer?

#128 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:56 PM:

And bacterially contaminated crazy person at that.

#129 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2007, 11:59 PM:

#112 Nichole:

True, but given the 10-seconds-to-infected experiment posted above which demonstrates all the germs flying around in the air, what prevents the oil layer from getting infected after it cools?

First off, most of the stuff that's flying around wouldn't make you sick anyway.

Second, of the stuff that might make someone sick, you've probably built up antibodies over the years.

Third, in order to get sick off something that could theoretically make you sick, and that you haven't already encountered, you have to run into a sufficient number of them all at the same time. What that "sufficient number" is varies with the bug, but it's way more than one or two.

Fourth, even when a significant number of germs hit you all at once, your body has to be unable to cope (and our bodies are really good at coping). That's why immunizations are suggested for folks whose resistance is lower than normal (the guys with heart disease or diabetes, for example).

Last, you really wouldn't want a totally germ-free life.

#130 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:03 AM:

T.W. - I don't actually use lard, since I cook for a half-vegetarian household. It seemed a good worst-case-scenario example though. I've been using vegetable shortening for seasoning (I'd heard that solid-at-roomtemp made for better results) and high-heat-tolerant safflower oil for cooking. I think I'd avoid the peanut oil just in case I had to cook for friends with nut allergies.

What I hadn't thought about was the carbon layer being the sought-after result, rather than just the fat/oil. Seems silly of me in hindsight; if one is instructed to bring the oil to the smoking point, that would seem to indicate one wanted the byproducts of burning stuff. Huh.

OK, will stop obsessively hitting refresh now, even though the piñata content is tempting. Will get back to work.

#131 ::: noen ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:05 AM:

Thank you for actually being polite Diatryma. Is that your real name? Even if not I think I'll still listen to you. Are you saying that even "straight" (whatever that means) detergents will not dissolve bacterial cell walls? If so then I stand corrected and I'm sorry. I wish you had replied a little sooner, we could have avoided all this unpleasantness.

And of course I agree that the mechanical action is probably more important. I said that earlier just as I was also careful to only use "bacterial".

"I took that closing of yours to be hostile."
My God that is just nuts. Hostile? Confrontational? No, no way. It is a challenge I suppose. Is that how you always react to challenges? Maybe that is why Patrick thinks your little commentariat is a tad "insular"?

I will admit that I picked up on your own hostility and gave some in return. Did you notice that you were hostile to me or are you pure as the driven snow here? If you did notice that your response to me was hostile how did you think that you were helping any?

#132 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:06 AM:

I object to tricolsan and its ilk for other good reasons than breeding resistance.
One, do not want in the environment at large. Think of the water table.
Two, if you do not get it rinsed off really well you can taste the residue in your water glass. Been there done that.
Three, not compatible with ordinary bleach. Also learned that the hard way.
Four, needless extra cost.

This was originally about flu which is a virus.
Virus have way better armor class than bacteria. Soap isn't going to kill them but will slide them off, along with dormant spores and other bug a boos.

Alternatives for alcohol for sanitation on skin. Thoughts? I think witch hazel in high enough concentration will do it. Lab folks mention iodine and I know pure tee tree oil burns like a !#*. Peroxide maybe?

#133 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:08 AM:

1 vote here for Jim being as pure as the driven snow. (well it's salted snow, a tad mushy with a blackish tinge from all the traffic --- slushy--- but pure driven slush!)

#134 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:09 AM:

Noen @116: Your proof that soap detergents do not kill bacteria:

"In summary, plain soap has basically no antimicrobial activity. A simple hand wash can reduce transient bacteria by 0.5 to 3 log10 units but has no real effect on the resident hand flora."

From "Epidemiologic Background of Hand Hygiene and Evaluation of the Most Important Agents for Scrubs and Rubs". Clinical Microbiology Review, 17.4.863-893.2004.

Full text available online, at the link. Quite extensive reference section, too, for further reading and edification.

#135 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:11 AM:

I will admit that I picked up on your own hostility and gave some in return.

And those will be my final words to you, noen.

#136 ::: noen ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:18 AM:

Lastly Brenda VonAhsen a.k.a. noen --- let's not be rude to folks here. Still living in MN? How's the weather there?

The weather is too warm for MN, I don't like that. How did you do that? I really wasn't hostile. There is no way you'll convince me that just asking a question is "hostile".

#137 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:20 AM:

Funny how there is only one instance of the word "insular" in this entire thread, and you are the one who used it, Noen.

But then, you also took PNH's comment about how the "immune system of Making Light's commentariat is dialed a little high" and turned it into something else, so I guess that's only to be expected.

#138 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:22 AM:

Steve @ 77,

p1. You forgot to add that sanitized is not sterile. Soap doesn't even sanitize, much less sterilize.

p2. If you're homebrewing for a hobby, use the expensive sanitizer. You're not saving enough money to make the hassle of using the cheaper stuff worth what you have to do to make it work.

#139 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:27 AM:

Noen, like I said, even I thought you were already fighting when you came in. It's just that my second reaction to someone challenging science that I know and that I expect others to know is to... basically, to explain it more and more simply, and using more and more jargon. I get very nerdy very quickly without some revision, and using jargon not only insulates me from the conversation and my role in it, it will occasionally shut people up even though I've said nothing new.

A great deal of the hostility you encountered in response to your final line is because you're new. We do not know you. The only thing we have to judge is your post, and that ended with an implication that Jim is unknowledgeable. Besides being impolite, it's strategically unwise-- read a few of the medical posts, the UFO post, stick around a while, and you will see that Jim generally knows what he's talking about.
Stay around a while, play on the threads, offer insight and be polite. You build up fluorosphere credit.
We respond as we think is appropriate. 'I don't think you know what you think you do' boils down to rudeness. That's all we had to work with. Someone comes in and calls a respected member of the community ignorant in a hostile manner. Coupled with the challenging nature of the rest of the post, it doesn't call upon us to respond well.

No, Diatryma's not my real name, but it's recognizably me. There are too many Cassies around (this means more than one) and this is who I am in most situations. I don't think many people treat it as a pseudonym, nor do I think they would imply that I am hiding behind it, simply because I'm not hiding-- they know who I am. It's not anonymity; I can't attack anyone without consequences. But since people know me, if I say something ambiguous, I get a bit of slack. If I say something that can be misinterpreted, there's a precedent of friendliness to fall back on.

#140 ::: noen ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:33 AM:

Thank you Betsey Langan and yes, I was wrong. I'm sorry.


#141 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:43 AM:

Using the internet is like using a toilet in a glass house.

#142 ::: noen ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:45 AM:

Thank you Diatryma but I doubt I could stay as I pretty much ruined that. I understand that you think I was rude from the beginning but I really and truly do not think I was. Not at all.

Of course it was strategically unwise. I knew that. From my point of view I asked a question and was met with open hostility. Do you see that? If that is what your "Fluorosphere" is all about then no thanks.

I still want to know how JK did that. That's pretty impressive.

#143 ::: selidor ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:46 AM:

Greetings, all. *waves new hand* (Am not from BoingBoing...)

Just a question on the usage of hand sanitizer. I recently spent eight weeks out in the field in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, where we worked with a complete waste-water-free requirement (water = weight for removal = unhappy helicopter pilot). Hand sanitizer was all we had for that length of time. Possibly helped by being in one of the most sterile parts of the planet, no one had any health problems. I cleaned my hands each night before removing my contacts, and was wondering: any knowledge of the long-term effects, particularly to eyes, of hand sanitizer use?

#144 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:48 AM:

I used google to search on your email address, and found all but one of the things JK posted within a minute or two, so my guess is that's what he did, too.

#145 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:53 AM:

Most of what I could drag up from the depths of the interweb were statements similar to: For external use only. Keep out of eyes. In case of eye contact immediately flush eyes with water, call a doctor. Discontinue use if irritation or redness develops. If condition persists for more than 72 hours, consult a doctor. Keep out of reach of children. If swallowed, call a doctor.
The only precaution against long-term usage were upper respitory ailments.

#146 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:54 AM:

noen, it wasn't your question that seemed hostile; it was your statement:

"I don't think you know what you think you do."

Translation: "You're stupid and ignorant."

That was the tone I (and a lot of other people here, apparently) read into that sentence. Your subsequent posts have only confirmed that first impression.

#147 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:55 AM:

Apologize, figure out a more tactful way to say what you meant to say, and carry on. Extra credit if you do so in verse.
I can see how you would interpret events, especially as the thread went on, but you could have phrased that last sentence much better. It doesn't take much to read it as an attack. Whenever I disagree through text with someone I don't know, I check what I'm saying to make sure I'm only saying what I want to say. I usually end up moderately formal because I do not want to be misunderstood.

It's like my retreat into jargon. "Oh, no, see how nicely I have phrased that? Do please note the semicolon, and my lack of contractions. I could not possibly be attacking you; I am far too polite."

#148 ::: Jeliza Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:55 AM:

#5: When teaching our little girls to wash their hands, we've been going for two verses of "Mary had a little lamb."

#149 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:02 AM:

Selidor, I am impressed that your hands didn't crack open. I have a great deal of adoration and respect for Antarctica-- an Antarctic cruise was briefly the ghost of a possibility during my senior year of college. I am still a bit miffed that it didn't happen.

#150 ::: noen ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:04 AM:

"Apologize, figure out a more tactful way to say what you meant to say, and carry on. Extra credit if you do so in verse."

I'm not a versifier. Not even a little.

"you could have phrased that last sentence much better. It doesn't take much to read it as an attack."

Still don't see it that way. I don't see how it could be perceived as an attack. Is challenging someone the same as attacking them?

"I could not possibly be attacking you; I am far too polite."

Oh I understand that. It seems terribly cold though, doesn't it?

What on earth is this stuff about UFO's? Surely you don't believe in that sillyness?

#151 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:04 AM:

Charlie, #5: Little Mattie Groves is one of the Child ballads, and is therefore a British rather than an American cultural trope.

R.M. Koske, #8: Which version of the alphabet song? My ex-husband worked at a day-care center, and they sang it TTTO "Lo-Limbo" (aka "how LOW can you GO?"), and now I prefer that to all other versions.

Diatryma, #58: I never understood the appeal of "hand sanitizer". You're not rinsing your hands, so what the hell good does it do, was how I thought about it. Seems I was right...

Ruth, #66: *snorfle*

Patrick, #110: Yeah, if Zeph meant that comment as an insult, it rather failed of its intended effect. Like you, I parsed it as a rather limp attempt at a joke.

noen/Brenda, #131: In exactly what universe was that closing line of yours NOT hostile? You effectively accused Jim of being a liar, and got a predictable response, and now you act as though you are the one who was wronged.

OTOH, at least you can write a coherent sentence, which is more than our last couple of ignorant idiots could do. (See the "Weirdly Similar" thread for the reference.) If you can just get over yourself and learn how not to look like an ass by insulting people whose credentials are considerably better than yours, you should do fine here. Hint: an apology would be a good start.

#152 ::: Sara E ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:10 AM:

Great advice. I have to say, right after I read your post, I called my doctor to get flu shots for our two year old daughter, my husband and myself, only to be told that they'll have flu shots in November.

It makes me wonder if there aren't enough flu shots for smaller doctor's offices to get some in before flu season really starts. And why.

I swear, unless I can find someplace else that will do it, we're showing up first thing in the morning on Nov. 1st.

#153 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:10 AM:

The UFO thing was another example of Jim giving us every possible bit of information-- here it is.

Another reason to dislike triclosan, before I collapse into bed: it forms chloroform in wastewater. I am so very not in favor of that stuff being in everything.

#154 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:12 AM:

Still don't see it that way. I don't see how it could be perceived as an attack. Is challenging someone the same as attacking them?

Hi noen, fellow newbie here. I'm afraid I also perceived your first statement as hostile... when you tell someone who has knowledge and a good reputation in a field that they don't know what they are talking about on a subject within that field, of course it will be received as hostile. Think of something you have some skill in, and are proud of being able to do - and now imagine someone coming up to you as you practice your craft and saying, "you have no idea what you're doing, I know because I read something on the internet that says you're doing it wrong." C'mon, no one with an ounce of self-respect would fail to bridle just a little.

#155 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:14 AM:

noen/Brenda, one other point, since you keep saying that you don't see your closing line as being hostile but everyone else here did:

When one person says you look like a duck, he's nuts.
When two people say you look like a duck, it's a coincidence.
When three people say you look like a duck... start checking for feathers.

Instead of continuing to insist that what you said couldn't possibly have been a hostile attack, I suggest you pay a little attention to the reception it got and modify your approach accordingly.

#156 ::: noen ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:28 AM:

"Hint: an apology would be a good start."

I'm sorry. It was not my intent to be hostile but I understand that was how I was received. I do know I was very rude after my first post. I am sorry that I chose to act that way.

#157 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:39 AM:

I'm a food vendor at SCA events. Some will recognize the issues with that right off the bat.
With rustic camping of no running water, only potable being what you brought with you, and pit latrines I have seen poor hand washing take down over half of the attendance, an army worth, with the agony of the classic heaves & trots before the drinking even begins. It is at times only by dumb luck that more people are not affected. I have seen flu and colds go from encampment to encampment as well.
Hand washing breaks a link in the transmission chain. It is the easiest link to break. It is a link you can break yourself when others have failed to. I do not want to go back to those particular good old days of endless illness because of sloth.
Why yes I have knuckle rapped my customers to wash their hands first before touching stuff in my kitchen. The good ones go "Oh yes right." The bad ones leave before they can do damage.

#158 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:42 AM:

Take a culture of staff and add a drop or two of any liquid detergent, incubate.

Whose staff are you taking a culture of? Does it matter what the composition of said staff is? Would oak work better than maple? Or do you mean secretarial staff rather than manufacturing staff?

Oh, sorry - you meant staphylococcus, right? In which case, it's "staph". Yes, with the "ph" - because the name for the bacterium comes from the Greek word for "bunch of grapes" - "staphule". Replacing "ph" with an "f" is not an option. Using two "f"s is even less so[1].

[1] Yes, I am a picky bitch about spelling. My internal copyeditor tends to shriek very loudly at such things, and I get annoyed by people thinking spelling is negotiable. Idiotic misspellings and lack of proof-reading are cardinal internet sins, as far as I'm concerned. (One of the reasons I enjoy reading here, strangely enough, is that most of the commenters are able to write correctly spelled, accurately punctuated and grammatically readable English without appearing to need a three-day run-up.)

#159 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:23 AM:

Does anybody have a good solution for those annoying 'water-saving' faucets that only stay on as long as you hold them on? Some genius got the bright idea to plague my dormitory with them, so unless the handicapped sink is available, I have to go to the kitchen to get my hands clean.

(And Meg @159: I'm just going to go ahead and apologize now for whatever dumb-ass malapropism or misspelling I've undoubtedly managed to stick in this post. I honestly do try my level best not to sound like a drooling idiot, but it's an uphill battle).

#160 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:29 AM:

Annalee @ #160, plastic toothpicks as wedges?

No, no, I'm kidding.

#161 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:37 AM:

noen @157
*standing ovation*.

That takes guts. Well said.

#162 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:40 AM:

Linkmeister @ 161 , you are probably not far off.
If the water saving faucets are the type with spring assist returns then the only way to overcome is to find some sort of wedge. You may try a wedge from faucet to valve or valve to valve.

#163 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:43 AM:

Hi selidor! Looks like you're a Kiwi, from your email address.

I'll add your query to my list for the pathologists I'll be chatting with tomorrow. It's the employee health fair, so I can corner them.

Alcohol is drying to your tissues, and the hand sanitizer leaves an icky residue, but I really have no idea.

If you go back to the ice in the next few months, and you end up at McMurdo, and you happen to run into a brash blond woman known as Bella, strike up a conversation, she's a blast. I used to be her housesitter when I was an undergrad.

#164 ::: WimL ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:46 AM:

I'm depressed that in a discussion of flu and antibacterial soap it took until comment 132 for someone to acknowledge that flu is not a bacterial disease.

meg@159: A wizard's staph has a grape on the end?

rob@64: An anecdote: Somewhere I read of someone who rigged a germicidal UV lamp inside their bread-box, with a switch so that it would only be on when the box was closed. This made their bread last a lot longer. It would eventually dry out, of course, and apparently mold would eventually find its way to grow inside the bread, but the light prevented all surface mold.

greg@95: And I'm pretty sure that bacteria and viruses can't evolve to be resistant to ultraviolet.

They could possibly evolve an ultraviolet-blocking pigment (e.g., melanin).

#165 ::: glinda, occasional GoodWench(TM) ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:46 AM:

noen @157

Thank you for the apology, which was a perfect example of how apologies should be made. That takes courage. (We've had an overdose of the opposite recently; yours was truly a breath of fresh air.)

#166 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:55 AM:

I'm pretty much OK on the "in case of flu, have these things on hand" stuff. Also OK for "in case of power outage etc." but don't have a good go-bag. I'm working on it, OK? The two-weeks-worth of medications are there, but it's nowhere near as well equipped as the backpack I kept in the hall closet a few years ago. Since I'm no longer any good with a backpack, I'm wondering what the experts thing about keeping it in a rolling suitcase?

I saw posters up for a local clinic flu/pneumonia vaccination clinic being held on the the 6th; realized I don't see my doctor for another month; went and got the flu shot (free to those on Medicare, yay, but I'd have paid if I had to). I was somewhat ill with flu-ish symptoms for the week afterwards, as has been happening ever since my immune system went to hell, but that's still so much better than full-blown flu.

Can't remember whether I've had a pneumonia vaccination since '96, so I'll wait on that 'til I do see the doctor, as she'll have it in her records. (Well, for the last four years, but I know I didn't have one between '96 and 2004 or so; the fibrofog's been a bit more intense the last couple of years. Am going to start a file in my Palm Pilot for such things, just as I have one with a list of medications, dosages, etc. The electronic brain is such a godsend...)

#167 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 03:25 AM:

PNH @110:
I do sometimes think that the immune system of Making Light's commentariat is dialed a little high... I sometimes think we should work a little harder to cut slack for newcomers.

Thanks for saying that. I've been uncomfortable with the hair-trigger troll defenses for a while now*.

We're a strong enough community that I think we could give newbies a bit more rope.

* I said something about it a couple of months ago and got my shins kicked for backseat moderating.

#168 ::: soubriquet ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 03:36 AM:

Due to a sleepless night, (not due to bacterial or viral intervention), I found myself reading this entire thread. As a newcomer, I found the discussion, range of views, and information, and links, interesting. I have worked as a plumber, and dealt regularly with the nastiest of things which happen when pipes leak. I'll mention the word sewage just once. Maybe twice... Hospital sewage, anyone?
The interesting thing is that despite often having inadequate handwash/disinfecting facilities, during that period I seemed to get few infections. I assume my immune system was working very robustly, due to the regular challenges.
I do use wet-work barrier creams, and I'd be interested to know if any of the above contributors have tested, or know of tests on the efficacy of barrier creams.
Second point.
I think Noen's comment was, indeed, a bit challenging, and she compounded it with her responses.
That line:- "I don't think you know what you think you do." is in itself a grammatical mess. But the attacks on her were out of proportion, especially the somewhat threatening nature of revealing her name, address, and further details. That is irresponsible, and just plain nasty. I think she deserves an apology.

#169 ::: rc th Rd ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:08 AM:

bwhhh wht nnsns. mn, prsnl hygn s gd thng bt hv ppl vr cnsdrd tht ths cnstnt strlty s lwrng u rsstnc?

Rd t th fl, y wsss. Fl shts, ndd.

#170 ::: Ayse ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:36 AM:

#165, WimL I'm depressed that in a discussion of flu and antibacterial soap it took until comment 132 for someone to acknowledge that flu is not a bacterial disease.

It's not as if there's been any obvious lack of understanding of the concept. So why should anybody bother to specifically acknowledge it?

#171 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:45 AM:

Driveby at 170: have you ever had flu? Have you ever had a compromised immune system, or been susceptible to illnesses, or been aged over 50, or ...?

Flu is a killer, and taking a macho attitude to it is more likely to make it so, not less.

(NB: I notice this is your first post in Making Light. You might want to hang around for a while to get a feel the general level of debate before you post again.)

#172 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 05:01 AM:

Abi @168: when specific articles on Making Light are linked to from BoingBoing, we need hair-trigger troll defenses, because BB attracts drive-by trolls the way an outdoor cat has fleas. There's a reason BB needs moderators (as I figured out eventually the n'th time my own blog got BoingBoinged and the comments went to hell).

#173 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 05:10 AM:

170: I think you should visit some of Jim's other posts. I look forward to comments like "Flail chest? Ha! 'Tis but a scratch! Come back here, I'll bite your knees!" and "Only big girls' blouses worry about haemorrhage".

#174 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 05:37 AM:

Charlie @ #173:

Firstly, Making Light has a moderator, there's no need for the Commentariat to get all attack-dog with newbies. Everyone here was a newbie once.

Secondly, true drive-by trolling is a self-limiting phenomenon: whoosh and it's gone.

Thirdly, even persistent trolling is useless against Making Light's defensive Verse Fields.

#175 ::: John Cowart ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 05:47 AM:

I'm doomed; I don't know the words to Little Mattie Groves.

#176 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 05:57 AM:

Niall #173: Well yes, but most of the regulars here were polite and interesting as newbies. Lurking and getting a feel for the territory goes a long way.

Of course, beating pinatas until the candy comes out has a certain entertainment value of its own, but sometimes the imposition is just tiresome. I realise that a well-established community like this can sometimes generate unintended pileons, but I really feel no obligation to be nice to people turning up and being arses.

Also, not all of us can manage verse - on a good day, I might get to doggerel :)

All that said, welcome noen! Your apology was gracious, and hopefully you'll stick around - this place is one of the most interesting on the net.

#177 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 09:01 AM:

John @176: There's a link to the lyrics in #11.

#178 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 09:03 AM:

Bacteria are an easy indicator for viruses, I think. If your hands are covered in bacteria, they are probably also virus-laden. And as TW said, bacteria cause problems of their own.

Is there any reason besides a possible limited supply for the staggered schedule?

#179 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 09:13 AM:

For the staggered sked: It's our old pal triage again. Given limited resources (which includes the folks who give the injections) you start with the ones where they'll make the biggest difference.

#180 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 09:20 AM:

Karen #100:

About the development of trichlosan resistance due to the use of antibacterial hand soap:

I think the key point about the studies involved is whether they concern the development of resistance on the skin of those who use the soap (or detergent) or the development of resistance of bacteria in the environment at large. It seems reasonable to suppose that resistance of the bacteria on the skin is unlikely -- concentration of antibacterial agent is high, the likelihood of some bacteria being resistant enough to survive could reasonably be close to "impossible."

On the other hand, dilute antibacterial agent in the environment could just annoy the bacteria instead of killing them. And of course, whatever does not kill them makes them stronger.

#181 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 10:18 AM:

Reiterating what Dr. Karen said @ #100: if you're going to cover your mouth when you cough/sneeze, DON'T COVER IT WITH YOUR HAND! (Use the inside of your elbow, which at least you won't be putting on doorknobs, other people's hands, etc.)

noen @#157: Well done. Please stick around.

I think it possible that the ML immune system is on high alert after the "Weirdly Similar" thread. Reactivity should decline somewhat with time.

soubriquet @ #169: there are bacteria-killing viruses called bacteriophages. One of the primary sources researchers harvest them from is hospital sewage. I'm just sayin'. (NO, this is not a suggestion that anyone should root around in hospital waste of any kind!)

#182 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 10:24 AM:

What's the medical consensus on cotton hankies? Sneezing into an elbow seems a little unpleasant if I have a runny nose...

#183 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 10:30 AM:

Lee, #152:

Lo-Limbo? How cool! I was just using the traditional (?) Twinkle Twinkle Little Star tune.

#184 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 10:31 AM:

noen, #157: Nicely done!

So what sort of reading do you generally favor? I'm mostly into science fiction/fantasy and mysteries, with occasional forays into non-fiction. Do you have any favorite authors?

#185 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 10:32 AM:
Since 2000, a number of studies have verified the occurrence of triclosan resistance amongst dermal, intestinal, and environmental microorganisms, including some of clinical relevance. Of major concern is the possibility that triclosan resistance may contribute to reduced susceptibility to clinically important antimicrobials, due to either cross-resistance or co-resistance mechanisms. Although the number of studies elucidating the association between triclosan resistance and resistance to other antimicrobials in clinical isolates has been limited, recent laboratory studies have confirmed the potential for such a link in Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica. Thus, widespread use of triclosan may represent a potential public health risk in regard to development of concomitant resistance to clinically important antimicrobials.


#186 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 11:02 AM:

Jim @ 186

Well, at least I'm reasonably justified in my feeling that triclosan-containing everything is overdoing it.

#187 ::: everstar ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 11:21 AM:

I like to sing the Lewis Carroll version of "Twinkle, Twinkle", and am trying to remember to shut off the faucet after rinsing with the paper towel. But now I have a procedural question. I habitually turn off the water after I get my hands wet, then turn it on again to rinse off the soap, since I don't want to waste water. Should I just leave it running? Will I waste less water than I think? What do I do about the guilt for leaving the water running?

I swear I read the whole thread first, by the way.

#188 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 11:23 AM:

Somewhere way upthread, someone facetiously mentioned "Don't think of an elephant." But I find them handy for counting out seconds ("One elephant, two elephants," etc.), so I keep them in mind despite the unfortunate political association.

As for hand soaps, I just wish it was easier to find any that *aren't* antibacterial. The bad stuff crowds the shelves nearly everywhere, and I can't get to Pure, Saintly, Organic stores very often.

PS: Nearly all my sneezing comes from allergies, not colds. It's obvious I don't get out in public much. (Working at home has to have some advantages....)

#189 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Mike B @ 88 - I use either iodophor or StarSan for sanitizing. Iodophor is very effective, but you have to be very careful about concentrations, unless you want your beer to taste like iodine. StarSan is just amazing, but it's sometimes harder to come by.
Also, unless you're an avid baker, you have an advantage as a first time brewer. Your home probably isn't loaded with microbes that love malt. It's one of the reasons most brewers don't end up with a dreadfully infected beer until their third or fourth batch.

#190 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 11:47 AM:

Sneezing in elbows: I've always done that. Felt nice to be validated by science at last; I've always felt that sneezing in the general area of my hands, those hands that touch everything that I and others will later touch again, seemed dashed unsanitary.
I don't usually end up with overtly slimy sleeves. Nose blowing and sleeve-sneezing (sleezing? Sneeving?) are not mutually exclusive.

#191 ::: Ian ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 11:52 AM:

noen @ 151

"Still don't see it that way. I don't see how it could be perceived as an attack. Is challenging someone the same as attacking them?"

When you've had, on the close order of, a dozen people say "that came over as aggressive" the only sane response is to recognize that is how it came over. The best you can do at that stage is to say "sorry, I didn't mean it like that", not harp on in a way that still implies everyone else is wrong.

And from my desktop dictionary: The very first entry for "challenge" is "1 a call to take part in a contest or competition, esp. a duel".

Overall the indication is that you really need to pick your words more carefully.

For the record I'm an innocent passer-by here. I normally only read the site in summary via RSS so I don't normally read, or write, comments here. i.e. Someone who isn't 'part of the club' finds you the same as the club members do.

And it really isn't a good idea to make scientific claims from a position of ignorance. Nothing raises a scientist's ire faster. As to my scientific credentials I'm just going to say "autoradiographs of slices of liquid nitrogen flash frozen whole rat" and go on to say, as have many others, you're just plain wrong about bacteria and soap.

#192 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:02 PM:

liquid nitrogen flash frozen whole rat

How long does it take to flash-freeze a whole rat in LN2? (Just out of curiosity, you understand; I have no plans to freeze any rats.)

#193 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:03 PM:

I think many of you are a bit hair trigger when it comes to responses, but hey, tis the internet.

As for bacteria, I understand that they are all over our skin and all around our insides, so my main efforts are to ensure that they stay in the habitat they are addapted for and don't get anywhere else they shouldn't, like inside wounds.

Viruses though- well, I need to get a charcoal filtered full face mask for my alchemy experiments anyway, so maybe this'll be another reason.
(The only problem is the police will shoot me on the grounds that I must be about to carry out ap oison gas attack here in Scotland)

#194 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:14 PM:

noen 157: There we go! Excellent. Please do stay; people who can admit when they're wrong are well-liked here, and first impressions can be wrong. I read you wrong at first, though I tried to be very civil.

I'm perfectly serious: after an apology like that, for your part in a situation that began with a misunderstanding, you will be most welcome here.

#195 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:25 PM:

From my mostly-lurker status, I would like to note that what JKRichard did at #138 makes me deeply uncomfortable. Calling someone on being rude is appropriate; but unless a person is deliberately concealing their identity in a manner that's relevant to the topic at hand, I don't think it's appropriate to go hunt down personal information and display it in a thread. noen wasn't a sockpuppet of a public person directly connected to the original post, only impolite. That kind of information wasn't relevant, and putting it up seemed both excessively aggressive and petty.

Yes, it can be found online by anyone who looks for it. People can also get my credit report pretty easily if they want to, but I'd still find it creepy if they considered putting it online here to make some point. I'm still not sure what point was being made, either: "Watch what you say or we'll harass you offline"? That's what it came across as to me.

I happen to use my name here because I'm comfortable with the posters. Same for an email address I actually check. If doing this is going to result in people pulling up a lot of personal information about me and sticking it up in compiled format to taunt me with, I'm a lot more likely to want to use a pseudonym and generic free unlinked-to-me email address than I would otherwise. That's what I do on forums where I think random posters are likely to harass me in real life if they're able.

Lots of people called noen on being rude, but no one is calling JKRichard on being creepy and intrusive, and that's making me want to post to Making Light a lot less.

#196 ::: Ian ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:26 PM:

re: P J Evans @ 193

About three seconds before the LN2 stops bubbling, if you have enough of it.

Noen: Apologies, refresh lag meant that I hit after you'd recanted.

Others, re phasing of flu vaccine:

The flu vaccine is formulated freshly each year. The World Health Organization and others keep a watch on what flu strains are prevalent this year, following the flu season as it moves across the globe. Obviously it makes sense to formulate the vaccine as late as possible so that you have the best chance of matching the strains that are 'doing the rounds'.

Thus the vaccine is manufactured over a relatively short period. It doesn't make sense to have manufacturing capacity that can churn out a year's worth of vaccine in a week so it takes a while to make as much vaccine as is needed. So as the first few people get their jabs, vaccine is still being manufactured for the people who follow on later. With this constrained, as opposed to limited, supply it makes sense to give it to the highest risk patients first, then to lower risk folks.

#197 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:34 PM:

Fade 196: I agree. I think JK should not have done that, and I implore Our Hosts to delete that post. I'd like to think I'd feel the same even if noen hadn't made that very gracious apology, but since she did it's actually irrelevant.

#198 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:37 PM:

Nicole, 115:
Adrian, whatever happened to your N key? I'm worried that your E key might be next, and then it's being force-fed corrasible bond or onion skin or whatever it was Annie brought home for her captive writer in Misery. And then your thumb. It'll all end with someone getting a typewriter to the back of the head, I just know it!

I broke the "n" key on my laptop (the plastic bit on top of the key.) My attempts to fit the plastic key retainer back in place damaged the metal bit that's supposed to hold the key retainer. The nice fellow at the repair shop told me it would not do further damage to keep typing on the stump, but it has become increasinly difficult (ie, I need to hit the stump harder, and from a more exact angle) and thus more painful. This is problematic for my wrists, as I started with fairly serious RSI.

I can type "n" with a new pencil eraser. Or I can buy a new external keyboard, and try to juggle that and either the touchpad in the laptop or my external touchpad. (My thumbs are already too damaged to use a mouse, and I'm nervous about taking further risks with them. I decided amputation would be a bad idea, tempting as it can seem.) Or I can buy a new keyboard that will be integral to the laptop. That seems to be the real solution, though it costs time, money, and inconvenience. Right now, I am using the library's computer. Soon, I will go wash my hands.

#199 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:42 PM:

Noen @ 157, add me to those applauding a gracious and sincere apology. I hope I do as well should the need arise. And please do stick around.

Xopher @ 198 (currently), I agree as well. Both 136 and 138 would be better cut.

#200 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:47 PM:

Noen, nice recovery in comment #157. Welcome to Making Light.

I have a question for JKRichard, and others who use the tactic of confronting hostility or cluelessness with, "Oh yeah? Well, here's this personally identifying information you thought you were keeping private!" Does it ever reduce hostility or build community? Or is it just a counter-attack? Are there clearly-recognizable types of situations where it helps?

#201 ::: noen ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 12:56 PM:

"When you've had, on the close order of, a dozen people say "that came over as aggressive" the only sane response is to recognize that is how it came over. The best you can do at that stage is to say "sorry, I didn't mean it like that", not harp on in a way that still implies everyone else is wrong."

I was under the impression I did that @ 157.

I don't think that I am due an apology. I said some pretty awful things and I knew what I was doing. As to giving newbies some rope I don't know, maybe, but I swung right into attack mode with my second post. There are no excuses.

#202 ::: Brenda von Ahsen ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:06 PM:

"I have a question for JKRichard, and others who use the tactic of confronting hostility or cluelessness with, "Oh yeah? Well, here's this personally identifying information you thought you were keeping private!" Does it ever reduce hostility or build community? Or is it just a counter-attack? Are there clearly-recognizable types of situations where it helps?"

Just to honest here it was the threat of even more personal information being revealed that sobered me up and led to my apology.

As a general tactic I think it could seriously backfire. If I were JKRichard I'd be careful how I used that. It could easily escalate into a real world confrontation. That has happened... with tragic results.

#203 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Adrian @ 201,

while sharing some reservations about using this tactic, and not having the skills myself to set about this kind of searching with any ease, I am glad there are folk who can.

A tech-savvy pal was rapidly able to identify the sleaze who was cyber-menacing another pal with both direct abuse and also by setting up said pal as the target for a third party with known mental health and anger management issues.

Which meant email and cell phone providers could be supplied with all necessary details to cut off the means of attack, and the constabulary* were able to contact said sleaze all the sooner with a formal caution and clear explanation of the likely legal proceedings if cease and desist didn't happen.

It did, thankfully.

As with all tools, good and bad uses are there to be had.

*said constabulary took this very seriously indeed and would have been able to do the same tracking down, obviously.

#204 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:09 PM:

I was going to say something, but after reading this thread I *really* need to go wash. Personally, I do four "Short'nin Bread"s.

#205 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:12 PM:

Adrian it depends on the individual. There are several reactions which I had anticipated: a) person disappears never to return believing Big Brother has found them at last, b)person is confused/shocked alleviating them from current focus, c) person is confused/shocked which causes more panic and increases hostility, d)person counter-attacks by displaying your "personal information".

In most cases this has reduced hostility. Once people realize that the internet is not a completely anonymous forum and you can't attack others without repercussion they tend to back down on the hostility level now that the veil of anonymity has been removed.

I don't have a clear formula to tell you in which scenarios it will hit or miss. I gather enough information then go with the gut.

#206 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:17 PM:

noen/Brenda 202/203: I was just writing you an email encouraging you to come back, but now I find that you have. I'm glad you did. Welcome.

Juliet 204: Yes, I agree. I do think it was over the top in this case, Brenda's admission in 203 notwithstanding. noen never made any threats, and nothing she said could be reasonably construed as cyberbullying. Nor did she engage in childish namecalling or persistent obscenity, which are the kinds of things that make Jim get out the "we know who you are" stick.

I personally hope the PTB see fit to redact the contents of those two posts, while leaving them in place to preserve the numbering scheme, but IANAFPPAML.

#207 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:18 PM:

JKRichard @ #206,

I wasn't the person whose information was being revealed. But reading that as a completely uninvolved bystander, that post made me feel threatened and attacked, and inclined to take more measures for anonymity in this particular forum. Which is especially frustrating because this is one of the places where I have always felt most comfortable actually being honest and casual about my own identity.

I will take your word for it that this has helped defuse situations in the past, especially as Brenda commented above that it did. But the only times I've ever seen that sort of post online before, it was always posed in the sense of "And I could call your boss and get you in trouble, or show up in your bathroom and stab you! Ha ha!" It reads to me like flamer bingo, but more personally and physically threatening. And if this is going to be done repeatedly in this place, I am probably going to stop posting under my real name here. I'm enough of a lurker that I won't be losing much to ditch past associations and only post from a new email address and name, and I trust the mods here enough to not mind that this does not obscure my IP address.

#208 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:20 PM:

Brenda, welcome to ML. Sorry to have been so snappish earlier. You seem actually remarkably non-crazy all of a sudden.

#209 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:23 PM:

#202 noen--I think most of us are over it now, though, and you have made a really heartfelt apology, so you need not beat yourself up over this. I think most of the regulars realize they've been a little jittery and maybe jumped a little too hard, and you know that you were maybe a bit too intense at first (it can be hard to gauge a new crowd--what one set of people see as direct and forthright another sees shockingly aggressive, and I think that's a lot of what started us all off on the wrong foot inthe first place. Plus the fact that several people here spent Thursday through Tuesday dealing with some seriously clue-impaired folks on another thread, and had given up on their indoor voices altogether.

Therefore, let us all declare a Let's Get on with Our Lives Moment.

I do agree that dragging out the personal information should be a last-recourse step, and that we should all leave it up to our hosts to decide when it's time to do that, and that this wasn't it.

In the meantime, my housemate is preparing to make Teresa's habanero oil--does Jim have any advice on evacuating housepets from the scene of a toxic waste incident I should know about?

#210 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:28 PM:

Xopher @ 207, I would have no problem at all with the comments of either of my previous posts being removed. I think it would be appropriate considering it was not Jim who acted but I.

Fade @ 208, information is like a hatchet: given to a carpenter he/she can build, create, and design... placed in the wrong hands however, information can be destructive.

Please, continue to post without fear of having your personal information compromised (though, IMNSHO, if it's on the internet it's no longer arguement saved for another day). I am not an officiate of Making Light and I acted on my own accord.
I will not be acting on my own accord again seeing as this has caused concern. Apologies to any and all who felt threatened.

#211 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:30 PM:

I think there's an important line between what JKRichard did and making threats to involve (for instance) an employer.

I haven't fully made up my mind what I think about the issue overall, but I know this much: I'm ambivalent about what JKRichards did, positively opposed to the threatening people's livelihoods, and I see a clear difference between the two.

I'm also opposed to identity-hacking while in favor of tolerating pseudonymity. How's that for an incompletely-resolved set of positions?

Most importantly, I want to note, as a bloodied veteran of online conferencing systems like the Well, that "meta" arguments like this always wind up with someone valuable feeling really hurt and driven away. Therefore, LOOK! THE WINGED VICTORY OF SAMOTHRACE! Back to discussing handwashing, viruses, and Jewish chocolate Heinleins.

#212 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:30 PM:

Not meaning to reintroduce any hostility here, just trying to analyze reactions...

"I don't think you know what you think you do." is a challenge, a fairly blunt one. Coming from a complete or relative newcomer... well, I've done that sort of thing myself, when I saw information posted that I thought was seriously or dangerously incorrect. If the challenge is factually correct, and backed with solid references (no appeals to authority, please!), it tends to work out okay, though some feathers might get ruffled. But if the challenge is incorrect, and unsupported, or supported only by things like anecdotes, things don't work out so well.

#213 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:30 PM:

Hi Brenda, welcome to Making Light. Nice to have you with us. Pull up a chair, admire the knitting, have a brownie.

I had the same response to JKRichard's post at 138 as some others have indicated they had: it made me very uneasy. On the other hand, it did some good in this one instance. Mixed feelings, here, me.

#214 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:31 PM:

I am in favor of Jewish chocolate Heinleins, though I do not know how would I acquire one. Is it the chocolate or the Heinlein that's Jewish?

#215 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:36 PM:

I think PNH really needs to post his recipe for Jewish chocolate Heinleins. They sound both delicious and kosher for passover.

#216 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:44 PM:

I'm a regular reader, and the posting of (very!) personal information in the context in which it was done in this thread made me very uncomfortable, too.

@206 JKRichard -- perhaps you have been lucky enough to have experienced a reduction in hostility by posting this kind of info, but I think there are better ways of reducing hostility and/or of pointing out how very public the internet is.

But information on chocolate doesn't make me uncomfortable. Quite the contrary.

#217 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:46 PM:

I read the bit about Teresa's habanero oil and interpreted it as a disinfectant. That's one way to stop touching your mucous membranes....

#218 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:48 PM:

Now I have a serious chocolate question: does anyone know of a good low-sugar or sugar-free chocolate? I realize this may be an abomination before the eyes of God, but I'd kill* for high quality chocolate that I didn't have to ration out in single squares per day. My tolerance for pure cocoa percentages** only goes to about 85% before it starts tasting too bitter.

* Metaphorically only. Really.

** And much as I appreciate good chocolate, I still miss the days when I could cheerfully consume white chocolate in great quantities. White chocolate is evil, evil love.

#219 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:53 PM:

My pepper pain story: My wife and I were pickling Jalapenos for a friend. Stupidly, we didn't use gloves. We spent much of the afternoon putting our hands in icewater until the hurting started up again, and then taking them out until the hurting started up again.

However, in those days, I used hard contacts. And after putting the first one in, I discovered that after a minute or so the enzymes in my tears deactivated the capsaisin, and it would be OK. However, putting the second contact in took more nerve than just about anything else I've ever done in my life.

#220 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:54 PM:

A human being should be able to dip a chocolate, knit a Heinlein, hire a mohel, deliver a monologue, homestead a potato patch, play the cello, gap a carburetor, promulgate an ukase, and eat a peach. While riding a bicycle! Underwater! Humani nil a me alienum puto! Specialization is for infants!

#221 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 01:57 PM:

Fade 219: In Houston I discovered that Russell Stover makes a dark version of their sugar free miniatures. I like them a lot. They're sweetened with maltitol, which I at least tolerate fine.

I have one in my mouth now. I stuffed my bag with them and shipped my clothes (not ALL of them, but I did take home about a dozen bags).

I don't know if that's high enough quality for you. I know that I'm planning on figuring out how to sweeten up some unsweetened chocolate with my own sweetener.

#222 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:01 PM:

Patrick, I fail as a human being. I can't knit, and I don't know what a mohel or an ukase is (no, don't explain, I'll look them up).

Having failed as a human, I will now apply to be a WORLD-DESTROYING SCOURGE!!!!! BWAHAHAH!

See what you've done? For shame.

#223 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Fade Manly @ 219

Parkside Candy makes pretty good sugar free chocolates. I've bought them for my stepbrother who has diabeties. Really good non-sugar-free stuff, too.

#224 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:06 PM:

As a goy, I think I'll skip the part about the mohel. Meaning no disrespect.

#225 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:07 PM:

I'm applying to be Xopher's henchman/sidekick*, possibly used for humor in a rude-mechanical fashion. Where should I send my resume and other materials?

*I want to make a good joke about being his straight-man, but I'm in an audioconference, and I should be paying attention to that instead of this. This is much more interesting.

#226 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:07 PM:

Xopher @223 Having failed as a human, I will now apply to be a WORLD-DESTROYING SCOURGE!!!!!

I think you just promulgated your ukase.

#227 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:09 PM:

JK Richard @ #163, Thanks. It's a serious suggestion tempered with practicality; who carries plastic wedges around?

#228 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:10 PM:

I'm not much of a chocolate connoisseur, but the Belgian chocolatier Callebaut makes a sugar-free semi-sweet chocolate that I thought good when I tried it. (There's a local grocery store that buys 5-kg slabs of their products, bashes them up into smaller chunks, and sells them in bulk.)

#229 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:11 PM:

JKRichard @ 227... I think you just promulgated your ukase.

And Xopher's symbol as a world-destroyer is the ukulele. Tania, being his sidekick, plays the banjo.

#231 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:26 PM:

JK Richard @ 231, Jake Shimakaburo turned 30 a month or two ago. Those of us who remember him as a teenaged phenom were appalled at this evidence of sudden aging.

Side note: I keep wanting to type your name as JR Richard, a residual effect of watching a great Houston Astros pitcher 25 or 30 years ago.

#232 ::: soubriquet ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:28 PM:

I'm pleased to return and find there has been something of a rapprochement, and that people are showing a kinder side.

Lila #182, Thank you, yes, I did know a tiny bit about bacteriophages, but never really thought about the hospital sewers being their happy hunting ground...
I can just imagine, rounding a sewer corner and seeing the Path Lab on safari, wearing masks and pith helmets, riding giant rats, maybe with a few trained 'phage-sniffing rats ranging ahead...

No answers on whether barrier creams does any good though, I'm still hopeful someone out there has tested them.

#233 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Another data point - I too felt that JK Richard crossed a line in posting that information, and would feel much more comfortable in a community where that didn't happen quite so quickly.

Frequent use would certainly make the conversation quieter by removing my voice.

#234 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:33 PM:

I'd kill* for high quality chocolate that I didn't have to ration out in single squares per day.

Call my good friends at the Bavarian Chocolate Haus
RR 16, North Conway NH 03860
Phone: 603-356-2663

#235 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:40 PM:

JKRichard -- tell you what. How about I ROT-13 those particular posts o' yours, and everyone gets back to talking about hand washing?

Then we can wash our hands of the matter.

#236 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:41 PM:

j h woodyatt @ 139
p1 - Yup, fully in agreement. Sterilize is what I do when I borrow an autoclave, or when I'm pressure canning wort. Sterile is effectively 0 population. Sanitize is a small enough population such that the yeast out competes it nor does it contribute any off-flavors.

p2 - I usually use iodophor or StarSan. I'm not brewing to save money. A few bucks so that my time isn't wasted is well spent. But since I am a geek, and it is my hobby, I of course know far too much about how all of the common techniques and tools work and don't. Also, if I'm helping someone else start out, I'm likely to recommend bleach since they probably have it already, and using it effectively is straightforward and simple.

#237 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Linkmeister @ 232, Jake, no matter how old he is will always be a phenom.
Please, stop by Soon's Korean Bar-B-Que outside of Pearl and have some Kalbi for me.

#238 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:43 PM:

Jim @236 Deep six'em! Though I think we've moved from hand washing to chocolate. So mote it be.

#239 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:47 PM:

Yet another data point re 138: I think our hosts should remove the posting in question. Publishing that kind of personal information should be discouraged.

We now return to our discussion about why washing hands is particularly important if one is a mohel.

#240 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:47 PM:

Speaking of chocolate:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
If it grows on chocolate
You've got it too.

(For those who don't know what that means: gonorrhea is cultured on chocolate agar.)

#241 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:48 PM:


If you can't figure out how to order from Parkside's website (Ursula L's link at #224), drop a line in my lj, and I will stop there, pick up some for you, and mail it out.

#242 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:48 PM:

JK Richard @ 238, Combining two concepts, chocolate-covered kalbi!

(Which would improve the ribs, in my view. My brother-in-law is the kalbi fan around here.)

#243 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:50 PM:

Ah, it was taken care of while I was typing my last post. Much thanks.

Back to mohels ...

#244 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:52 PM:

Not to dogpile ... trying to add extra nuance to the conversation at hand ... hoping none of my blows miss and fall upon that dead horse over there--


I just got caught up on the thread now, which is about 15 min. after the posting of Fade Manley's initial reaction to JKRichard's posting of noen's personals. My reaction was exactly the same--"Oh, ick, stalkeriffic! That can't end well. Do we really propose to respond to tone-deaf newbies' with threats from here on out?"

I think it's useful to explore exactly why it might, even in absence of explicit threats to hunt noen down, get noen in trouble with employers, photograph noen's family, etc., feel stalkeriffic and threatening.

1) Some of the information revealed had explicit stigma potential. Not everyone with that data point in their past wants everyone and sundry connecting it with their latest online handle.

2) ...regardless of whether it's easily Googlable, injecting it into the conversation here is "making sumthin' of it." There's sort of an implied ad hominem there, as though those data points somehow impacted the validity of what noen were saying or should change everyone's opinion about him/her (sorry) and how to hear his/her (sorry again) arguments. The threat is, "I can change how the people on ML feel about you in a hurry by drawing attention to publicly available but hitherto unmentioned details about you."

3) There is an implicit "...and I could go on, but you don't want that, do you?" threat in the revelation of select data points. JKRichard may not have mentioned exact address, employer, or where the kids go to school (for example; I don't know if noen has kids and I see no reason to Google for it), but the data he *did* choose to reveal implies that he *could,* if he chose, continue on to the juicy, damaging, threatening bits. Where information and anonymity are competing powers, revealing data about an anonymous poster is a power play containing the threat to exercise more of that power, possibly to the anon-one's harm, should the anon-one not shape up.

I think that the situation's not escalating is not, with all due respect to JKRichard, thanks to his restraint or strategy, but rather due to noen being a bigger person than s/he originally seemed to be. And possibly because those aren't details that noen was ashamed of or uncomfortable speaking about. (OK, given that they were easily Googlable, maybe it was safe to make the assumption noen wouldn't feel overly threatened by JKRichard's bringing them up. I wouldn't have been comfortable making that assumption, though.) We are fortunate that the response was "wow, how'd you do that?" and not the hostility of someone who felt cornered.


Oh, is that the 15 minute timer? Sorry. Who's got the soapbox next?

#245 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 02:53 PM:

Chocolate and meat can be scrumptious together - chicken in mole sauce is evilly delicious.

#246 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 03:02 PM:

How to Eat Chocolate*.

Eat chocolate before and after holidays, after eating more nutritious food, and any time you need a boost. (In between, drink coffee.) The single best way to prevent the blues is to eat chocolate. But not everyone knows how to do it. Here's how:

1) Go to the store and get some chocolate you like
2) Remove the wrapping. (Wrapping does not enhance the flavor of the chocolate in the time that it is exposed to the chocolate. There's wrapping that's completely tasteless around chocolate. The sealing action of the wrapping helps to preserve the taste of the chocolate. That's how it works. It's purely mechanical. Chocolate-enhancing wrapping** is a waste of time and money, and just helps make inferior chocolate smell better.)
3) Put the chocolate in your mouth, paying special attention to the fragrance, getting well onto the tongue, for as long as it takes you to hum one verse of "Better than Ice Cream"† or two verses of "You Sexy Thing"‡.
4) Swallow the chocolate in one smooth motion.
5) Wipe your mouth with a napkin
6) Use the expended paper towel to wipe your fingers as well††

* This is fair use for the purpose of parody. And it is all my own work, except that it was actually written by some other guy.
** There isn't any such thing, of course.
† Preferably the verse that starts, "Your love is better than chocolate...", though if you're humming, who's to know?
‡ Hey, it's by Hot Chocolate, which makes it a darned sight more relefant than Little Mattie Groves

#247 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 03:42 PM:

abi, I prize you above rubies.

#248 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 03:43 PM:

Faren, 189, P&G, Ivory brand, still makes a pure liquid soap. Nothing but the soap and all the soap. You could also just convert a solid bar to liquid with some fine grating and hot water.
More likely to find pure dish soaps which are perfectly fine as hand soap and shampoo(no build up).

#249 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 03:44 PM:

"How now, how now," Lord Arling cried
"How do you like my house?
How do you like the kitchen chairs
Where you're sitting now, you louse!"

"'Tis very well, I like thy house
Thy kitchen too, a lot,
But best I like the cups and spoons
For making chocolate, hot."

#250 ::: Victeria ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 03:44 PM:

#7 Open door and get a whole host of nasties off the handle! Eurgh!, I'm getting obsessive compulsive.....

#251 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 03:51 PM:

Fade @ 219, they don't do sugar free so they may not be what you're looking for, but is a truffle maker in my neck of the woods who do amazing chocolate that has a low glycemic index. We regularly get it for diabetic friends and family because of that. They've been featured in Newsweek a couple of times as one of the best in the business. I couldn't find their statement about it online, but in this thread someone has a post on them that quotes something very similar to the in-store sign Legacy Chocolates have on the topic.

#252 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 03:54 PM:

To the many chocolate recommendations: thank you mightily! I've mourned the loss of a lovely little speciality chocolate shop ever since I left Pittsburgh, and it's nice to see there are other options yet.

Xopher @ #222, my criteria for "high quality" chocolate are probably lower than those used by most other people here; I still consider Cadbury chocolates "fancy imports" even after having a chance to try truly impressive chocolate variations. Those chocolate miniatures do sound tasty.

(I don't suppose that by "sugar free miniatures" you mean little chocolate figures of fantasy charaters? Probably not. But I am now imagining such, and greatly desiring tiny chocolate statues. Maybe a medium-sized chocolate statue of a dragon, even. How well does chocolate hold that kind of finicky shape, anyway? Especially if it's good chocolate, and not all waxy.)

Nancy C. Mittens @ #242, I confess I can't even find the sugar-free chocolates on that site. Either they're named something my word searches won't turn up, or I'm rather poor at navigating the site. Will drop a line in your LJ.

#253 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:05 PM:

I work at a place where an amazingly high percentage of people have a thing about icky bathroom door handles. We used to have paper towels piling up in huge drifts by the doors, until facilities got smart and put in some big trash bins. Anyway, I think their obsession is great. It means I don't have to worry about icky door handles because so many careful people are wiping them off for me.

#254 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:06 PM:

Kelly @ 252... a truffle maker

Wasn't there a Star Trek episode about that? The Truffle with Trifles, I think it was.

#255 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Ooh, truffle trifle makes me want to get out the trifle bowl and experiment.

#256 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:13 PM:

Oh, no, Serge is starting again

runs from room screaming

#257 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:23 PM:

I don't know where to get a chocolate mold big enough to make a medium-sized statue of one, but I recently got some [cute li'l] dragon-shaped and dragon-themed chocolate molds. Also castles, bulldogs, assemble-able treasure chest, grand piano -- a whole bunch of fun chocolate molds just waiting to be used.

Combining several threads, I see that you can also get Wiccan candy molds, one of which has a dragon design on it.

The evil thing about chocolate molds is that they're only about $2 each, which encourages acquisition. Now if were only as easy to get good chocolate to put in them.

#258 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Around my office we have men who won't touch the toilet flush handle with their hands; they use the soles of their shoes, resulting in broken handles and useless toilets. Basically they are kicking --down-- onto the handles after they've done their business.

Considering they underdesigned the number of toilets for my office (4 toilets, about 120 men), this is Not Good when one or two of them are disabled like this.

As for the door handle, ISTR a news report where they sent in a medical team and did swab tests of the bathroom door handle, and other locations. The worst one? The community phone; the door handle was amazingly devoid of bacteria and other nasty things, probably because most people washed their hands before leaving the bathroom.

#259 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:34 PM:

Little does Emma know: there's a computer in the other room, too.

#260 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:41 PM:

#189 Faren--have you ever tried Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products? In addition to house cleaning stuff, there's a line of hand soap, and I've seen these for sale in places like Target, Kroger, and such. Liquid hand soap is available along with the other products.

There's also Dr. Bronner's soap, which can be transferred into a pump dispenser for those who find the traditional packaging inconvenient for frequent hand-washing, or who'd prefer to buy in quantity.

#261 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:43 PM:


You're quite welcome for the research. Thank you in turn for your apology.

As has been observed, we're all on high alert against trolls right now, probably as a reaction to the thread entitled "Weirdly Similar...". There are some respondents over there who are belligerent, markedly clue-deficient, and highly resistant to any attempt (whether gentle or forceful) to impart clue. So after your first and second posts, most of the regulars went, "Oh, $deity, not another one!"

I, for one, am glad you're not "another one". Please do stick around, watch the threads go by and get a feel for the normal tenor of interactions (hopefully we'll stand down from high alert soon).

#262 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:52 PM:

Note: I've discovered that Dr. Bronner's dries out in the spout of pump-type soap dispensers and renders them useless rather quickly.

It was a terrible disappointment.

#263 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:54 PM:

Here in Seattle, it's bloody impossible to hire a mohel. As a Reconstructionist (Reform by default here in the West coast Jew-vacuum) with a goyishe sweetie, I'm as uncomfortable with the Orthodox options as they are with me, and the only Reform mohel had the nerve to be on maternity leave at the designated time.

I am therefore only pretending to be a human being, and when the time is right I'll remove my disguise to reveal the truly hideous shape beneath. Beware my wrath and tentacles.

#264 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:55 PM:

Emma @ 257... It is a little known fact that The Truffle with Trifles was directed by French auteur Francois Truffe-aud.

(You asked for it.)

#265 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:57 PM:

Serge: Ouch!

#266 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 04:58 PM:

Sarah @ 264 I am therefore only pretending to be a human being, and when the time is right I'll remove my disguise to reveal the truly hideous shape beneath. Beware my wrath and tentacles.

Oh my...

#267 ::: thanbo ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 05:01 PM:

Those of us who deal in ritualized handwashing (e.g., pouring water over hands from a cup, alternating left/right two or three times, and saying a blessing) generally, IME, regard it as pure ritual. That is, it should be done on clean hands, after you've washed with soap and water.

Same goes for the dunking in the ritual bath - one showers and bathes quite thoroughly before going into the ritual bath. Or would you want your ritual bath water to get contaminated with the body-grime of the dozens of women who went in before you? That's the pragmatic reason.

Dirt is considered an imposition, which is the religious reason - it prevents contact of the skin with the water of the ritual bath.

So ritualized washing need not interdict, or be obviated by, sanitary washing.

#268 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 05:02 PM:

Emma.. runs from room screaming

The episode's script, by Harlan Ellison, was originally titled I Have No Mousse and I Must Scream.

(Stuill not begging for mercy?)

#269 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Serge: Indeed, sir, I plead for your mercy before I throw up from laughing!

#270 ::: WimL ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 05:15 PM:

Fun bacterial factoids: AIUI, bacteriophages are one of the routes of horizontal gene transfer among bacteria, and are postulated to be one of the ways that an innocuous or beneficial strain of Staph aureus can turn into a pathogenic strain.

Also: Bacterial cells outnumber human cells in your body by about ten to one. (They don't outmass you, though, since the bacteria are individually smaller.)

Ayse@171: No, and I'm sure that if someone had said, "And the triclosan protects me from the flu!" they would have been quickly corrected. But that misconception is painfully persistent among, e.g., my coworkers, who worry about catching colds and flus and buy triclosan-containing soap to protect themselves. So when I read a long discussion, apparently motivated by the approach of flu season, on the benefits of handwashing, with a side discussion on the benefits or hazards of antibacterial soaps, with no acknowledgement that the one thing has little bearing on the other, well ... it just makes me itchy, is all. It reminds me uncomfortably of the way that some politicians will frequently mention 9/11 and then immediately mention the Iraq war, implying, but carefully never stating, a connection between the two. No one here is intending to mislead, but the persistent association can still reinforce a misconception, even if that's not what's meant. I think it's better to be clear in matters of health.

(And while we're commending noen for being, er, man enough (as it were) to apologize, I think Diatryma's calm and reasoned responses also deserve a lot of credit for turning what could easily have become an escalating flamefest into an actual discussion. Thank you, Diatryma; I don't come here to read flamefests.)

#271 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 05:32 PM:

Emma @ 270... Well, nobody wants that to happen. I shall cease and desist.

#272 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 05:38 PM:

Hand washing will help you avoid the flu.

Triclosan is, at best, useless.

These two things are both true.

#273 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 06:08 PM:

271: I think Diatryma's calm and reasoned responses also deserve a lot of credit for turning what could easily have become an escalating flamefest into an actual discussion.

Two-meter-high carnivorous birds with taloned feet and flesh-ripping beaks get respect, everywhere.

#274 ::: Zed ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 07:50 PM:

#162: I've discovered that Dr. Bronner's dries out in the spout of pump-type soap dispensers and renders them useless rather quickly.

Did you DILUTE! DILUTE! ALL-ONE OKAY!? I have Dr. Bronner's, diluted about 7:1, in four different pumps around the house, and haven't experienced this (not even in the one that doesn't get used often.)

#275 ::: Zed ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 07:53 PM:

er, I meant #263, not #162. Not sure how I managed that...

#276 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Zed, not that dilute, o, more like 2-1; have to try it again.

(Applause for the Dr. Bronner's bottle impressio, too).

#277 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 10:17 PM:

rob@64: An anecdote: Somewhere I read of someone who rigged a germicidal UV lamp inside their bread-box, with a switch so that it would only be on when the box was closed. This made their bread last a lot longer. It would eventually dry out, of course, and apparently mold would eventually find its way to grow inside the bread, but the light prevented all surface mold.

Expensive way to keep bread from molding. Keeping it in the refrigerator usually works for a while.

I'm aware that hungry people a hundred or five hundred years ago, or today in less spoiled-by-affluence parts of the world, would probably scrape the visible mold off the bread and eat it. But I have a phobia about mold in food, having read at too young an age, a graphic account of the life cycle of molds and fungi. I envision the fungal hyphae invisibly extending through every square inch of the bread. I just can't eat it (or jam, applesauce, or anything else with mold).

It took me a long time to be willing to eat blue cheese.

Yes, I'm aware of the irrationality, since bread itself, wine, and beer, as well as those cheeses, are deliberately manufactured with fungi (single-celled yeast in the case of the bread and alcoholic drinks).

#278 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 10:46 PM:

263, 275, re Dr. Bronner's in soap dispensers:

I have a foaming soap dispenser I like very much. When the liquid soap with triclosan ran out, I refilled the dispenser with diluted Dr. Bronner's. 10 or 20% soap will foam out of the pump, & does not clog. Adding a little glycerine makes a stiffer foam, with a texture more like the commercial stuff. It can also make it marginally less drying, though frequent handwashing still temds to dry out skin.

#279 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 11:42 PM:

#268, I have a long-standing fantasy for the Perfect House, which includes a Bath room, where one can wash off in a shower to as sanitary as possile, then have a nice, warm soaking bath at the end. Big enough for at least the whole family.

for everyday. the soaking bath would be like a warm, maintained swimming pool, only shallower and with benches. And probaby smaller. Would also be ready-to-go at the end of a strenous day at work, etc. (shower first always, though)

#280 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2007, 11:47 PM:

sara @ 278: But I have a phobia about mold in food, having read at too young an age, a graphic account of the life cycle of molds and fungi.

I urge you to avoid reading the regulations which describe permissible levels of contaminants in food products. They go into considerable detail about what you might find. I think I'd better not give examples.

#281 ::: LinD ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 12:09 AM:

Damn you James MacDonald. My bathroom visits are now a blend of refilling toilet, running sink water and "hum de-hum hum to you, hum de-hum hum to you..."


#282 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 12:10 AM:

I was trying to find a study from a few years back to suppost some comment someone made earlier and instead was sideswiped by this.

"Take Denton, Texas, 1999. Fifty-eight members of a high school drill team were infected with various levels of gastrointestinal illnesses at a camp. The ice got contaminated with E. coli after campers used their bare hands to scoop eyes out of the machine."

Dear Gawd, what are they teaching in high schools these days?!

#283 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 01:14 AM:


As a Reconstructionist (Reform by default here in the West coast Jew-vacuum) with a goyishe sweetie, I'm as uncomfortable with the Orthodox options as they are with me...

i couldn't tell, but if you are actually looking for diverse/interdenominational jewish groups in seattle, my little sister & some friends have just started up (with help from some grant money) a jewish... thang.

communal home, with community events, many kinds of jews & nonjews as well. they haven't got their website set up yet, but here's their facebook page.

#284 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:00 AM:

Paula Helm Murray @ #280, what you want is an ofuro. That one is indoors, but I kinda like this one, placed outside on a deck overlooking a grove or something.

#285 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:07 AM:

Paula Helm Murray @ 280... The Perfect House? Like the Self Actuated Residential Automated Habitat (aka SARAH) that Eureka's Jack Carter lives in?

#286 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:30 AM:

Gluon @ 101

(I am hopelessly behind, but that doesn't stop me from commenting)

Shots aren't supposed to get you sick, is the general idea we're meant to get, right

If you don't like getting sick from a shot, don't plan on going anywhere there's a danger of plague infection. That shot is the nastiest vaccine I've ever had; I was sick as a very sick dog for about a day afterward. Fever, chills, headache to make you praise the name of Dr. Guillotine and want to use his product.

#287 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 03:18 AM:

Sara E., #153, smaller offices worry that they have to pay for the vaccine up front and may be left with extras. If you want to get vaccinated now, look for hospitals, clinics, and grocery stores that will be doing it for a fee. (I belong to a very large HMO that has vaccine right away because the staff have to get vaccinated as well as many of the patients.)

everstar, #188, I have aerator switches on all my faucets that turn them to a tiny trickle so I don't waste water while I'm not actually using it. However, you do want to have your hands under the water when you wash them. (I mostly use mine for brushing teeth or washing my glasses, but I have friends without dishwashers who find them useful for washing dishes.)

#288 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 04:55 AM:

Coming a bit late to the discussion (but I have read all the way through).

Betsey Langhan @ 134
Thanks for the reference - that's what I call a proper reference. Now I've downloaded it I must be strong and return to my work, rather than follow my inclination to go get all its references, and then theirs and then...

I read an interesting paper/article (sorry, can't remember which) a while back (probably also following something from here) about the length of time for which surgeons scrub/should scrub. Turns out two minutes is sufficient, if you do it right, but recommending five is better, because most people overestimate how long they spend scrubbing, so if you say two minutes, some people will shorten it to one...

selidor @ 144 I would have thought that, provided you make sure your hands have dried fully after using the sanitizer and before removing the contact lenses, there wouldn't be a problem (since you're not squirting/rubbing the stuff in your eyes), unless you happened to be sensitive to e.g. a perfume in the sanitizer. However, sensitivity reactions of human eyes is not my area of expertise.

James D. Macdonald @ 241
Re: "chocolate agar": *chuckle*
I'm surprised nobody's objected to the abuse of chocolate - better warn any non-biologist chocoholics around here NOT to eat the "chocolate" agar.

#289 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 05:57 AM:

On the subject of the treatment of new commenters:

Charlie Stross @173:
when specific articles on Making Light are linked to from BoingBoing, we need hair-trigger troll defenses, because BB attracts drive-by trolls the way an outdoor cat has fleas. There's a reason BB needs moderators...

I think that opening up comment threads on BB has given the drive-bys somewhere else to go than the linked thread. I count one true troll, two awkward phrasings misflagged as trolls, and several high potential new members (there is some double counting in this list). The Shipping Container Housing thread shows a similar pattern. Not an overwhelming invasion.

I liked your comment at 172. Nice approach.

Jakob @177:
I realise that a well-established community like this can sometimes generate unintended pileons, but I really feel no obligation to be nice to people turning up and being arses.

There is a third possibility in the choice between a nice comment in reply to a nasty one and a pileon. Just don't reply; flow around the comment like a river flows around a rock. There will always be someone else to reply, or the commenter gets ignored. Both are lower-flame outcomes, and keep the threads a little more on track.

Lila @182
I think it possible that the ML immune system is on high alert after the "Weirdly Similar" thread. Reactivity should decline somewhat with time.

The last time I recall discussing this, we were on high alert because of Troll Bingo. Reactivity doesn't seem to decline; the name of the most recent irritant just changes.

- o0o -

I think we as a community are not very welcoming these days. Not every commenter lands gracefully in the comment threads. And of the ones that fumble it, very few have the class that noen displayed. And while we're piling on, who is watching, becoming too intimidated to post because the penalty for gracelessness is so high? Whom are we missing as a result?

#290 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 06:26 AM:


The important thing is that we don't lose our heads.

More seriously, could there be a guide to etiquette on Making Light* that we could point (badly behaved) newcomers at? Would that help? Real idiots wouldn't read it (or understand it) but people who really don't understand why their God-given/Constitutionaly guaranteed right to call people on the internet Nazis isn't going down well here might benefit.

* Making light for Dummies. I know I need it.

#291 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 06:26 AM:

216: I think PNH really needs to post his recipe for Jewish chocolate Heinleins.

Ah, yes, the author of "The Moon Is An Overbearing Mother" and "So Sail Beyond The Sunset Already".

#292 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 06:29 AM:

abi #290: Yeah, you're probably right. I still don't think we're particularly unwelcoming. This may be because I lurked for a long while and fitted in happily - YMMV.

Also, since when has keeping threads on track been a priority round here? :) (I know, I know - knitting and sodomy are a little different to flamewars.)

#293 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 06:34 AM:

Neil Willcox #291: Maybe she is actually the Vinged Victory of Samothrace and had her head uploaded? See what serendipitous typos can do...

#294 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 06:52 AM:

Neil @291:

I took the reference to my favourite Hellenistic statue to be about the question of Googling for personal details.

On the topic of Making Light for Dummies, I know Teresa is deeply averse to lists of rules. They're an invitation to game the system.

This is a question of culture, I think, which exists outwith (and often despite) the rules.

Or maybe I should just go look at the pretty statue again.

#295 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 06:59 AM:

Abi @ 290... There is a third possibility in the choice between a nice comment in reply to a nasty one and a pileon. Just don't reply; flow around the comment like a river flows around a rock.

Hear! Hear!

#296 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 07:23 AM:

abi @295 On the topic of Making Light for Dummies, I know Teresa is deeply averse to lists of rules. They're an invitation to game the system.

True. Forgot. All the possible responses to this problem have drawbacks. I'll second Serge in, um, seconding* your non replying idea; a drawback in this case is that the people most exercised and likely to be intemperate are the people most likely to respond. If there was an alternative to poking back when poked it might avoid this situation.

* Am I thirding or fourthing?

#297 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 07:57 AM:

Fade Manley @ #253

Sorry about the Parkside Chocolate thing. I've bought their sugar-free chocolate at their store (usually the peanut butter filled ones) and I didn't realize the website was so bad. I just googled, double checked that it was actually the store I knew, and copied the link.

It's an adorable little store, if they were wise, they'd put lots of pictures of the interior on the website.

#298 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 08:11 AM:

Neil Willcox @ 295... Fiving me is fine too. That being said, rules imply a rigid way of dealing with things. Guidelines are another approach. Speaking of which, xkcd reveals rule #99 of social interactions. I'm not sure about that one - is crisco really necessary?

#299 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 08:24 AM:

A little late to this conversation. The thing I'd throw in is that as far as revealing identifying information about someone who may be a troll, if I were to use that tactic, I wouldn't actually reveal the information publicly. I'd email it to them so they know that I know the information. And then I'd probably just post something generic and unrevealing publicly like "I know who you are, check your email"

Because making the information public means that even if the person reforms, (especially if it's something that involved a misunderstanding, getting off on the wrong foot, and some 'piling on' tendancy of the defenders), they're at a decided disadvantage going forward compared to everyone else, at least as far as how much "dirt" of theirs is public knowledge.

Just my opinion.

And now, to turn back to washing your hands, and killing little nasties, and whatnot, how about hydrogen peroxide?

#300 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 08:29 AM:

H202 Greg? Given this group, I expect someone to wax rhapsodical about the germicidal properties of H-stoff and T-stoff any minute now.

Well, they probably would work as anything-cides...

#301 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 08:42 AM:

You have to get the balance right between killing the bacteria, and killing your own skin cells. There are a variety of chemicals that would do both. I don't need to point out that killing off yoru own skin cells is a bad idea.

#302 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 08:51 AM:

I've heard of people who brushed their teeth with H2O2, and used it as mouthwash. I tried it once and couldn't stand the nasty taste that I thought would never go away. I think I'll just use it on the outside, thanks.

#303 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 08:52 AM:

@302 Well, the ones on the surface are dead already, under normal circumstances. (Aren't they?)

The trick is to keep that protective layer of dead cells intact, and between your live cells and everything else.

#304 ::: everstar ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 08:53 AM:

Marilee @ #288:
However, you do want to have your hands under the water when you wash them.

Doesn't this rinse the soap off before the surfactants have a chance to do any good? I thought you lathered away from the water stream.

Who knew there were so many details to get right? Heh.

#305 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 09:22 AM:

Coming in a bit late, but I have a question for Jim regarding antibacterial soap.

I use a C-PAP machine, and have to clean the hose and mouthpiece once a week. I was instructed to use antibacterial liquid soap, and only antibacterial liquid soap. Was I misled or is that indeed necessary?

Yours sincerely,

S. Apnea

#306 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 09:54 AM:

When the reactions to *minor* little nasties on this Thread get particularly obsessive-compulsive, I hear a distant cry: "Rosebud! Rosebud...." (I bet that sled was just covered with germs.)

*Major* little nasties are another story, of course, and we can't be too careful then.

#307 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Fragano @ 306... My wife uses a machine like that and she was told to use liquid soap, but not the antibacterial kind.

#308 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 10:09 AM:

I believe my wife uses vinegar to disinfect her hose/mouthpiece on the C-Pap machine.

#309 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 10:27 AM:

Miriam @ 284:

Thanks, I'll check into that.

#310 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 10:36 AM:

Fade and Xopher: I don't know if you'd think this is GOOD enough as a low-sugar chocolate, but it suits me for everyday use and it's widely available even at WalMart ($2 a bar) and airport shops ($5 a bar! Highway robbery! Taking advantage of the chocolate-deprived!)-- Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Extra Dark. It's got 8 grams carbs and 3 grams fiber per 4 squares, and a bar is 10 squares. I like it a lot better than the maltitol-sweetened varieties!

#311 ::: Suzanne Arena ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 10:40 AM:

People should question the flu shot since 90% of them contain Thimerosal (49.6% ethylmercury).

Typical of many in the medical industry that choose preach their rhetoric about getting the flu shot, they neglect to mention a preservative found in some vaccines called thimerasol has a small amount ...children's flu shot has 12.5 mcg of mercury, something meant for someone weighing 275 pounds according to the EPA. Should we give that ratio of mercury to good doctor's that recommend it, as my 11 lb baby got??

News threads should have more fairly alerted the public to facts like stated on the Fact Sheet you receive from the clinics like "if you are allergic to eggs or feathers", how about Mercury?? Just because a Doctor gives such a statement doesn't mean it's accurate. Frankly, I have read enough and know that 85-90% of Big Pharma money is spent on doctors and their symposiums and other benefits for doctor's ~ which places many doctors in a conflict of interest position. .....that said, conflicts of interest run amuck in the medical profession.

I expect higher standards from the News Organizations. I feel compelled to share the following.

I hope parents understand the United States,. "...American Academy of Pediatrics said in 2001 that mercury in all its forms is poisonous to pregnant women and children and their exposure to it should be reduced. " Why reduced and not banned from all vaccinations. Mercury is second to lead, and lead and mercury are proven neurotoxins. If it's poison why reduced - what studies have been done to prove a trace amount is not harmful, which many doctors believe is the case. None have been done, and none reflect information to the contrary of scientific information proving it's harm.

For the last 3 years we here in Rhode Island have fought to ban mercury from vaccines and demand a medical disclosure that a toxin is in the ingredients. The doctor that I have humbly work alongside over these 3 years is Dr. F. Edward Yazbak, MD, FAAP who started the Infectious Disease Department for Rhode Island 35 years ago and he is tirelessly working with us to BAN mercury in any trace amount in a vaccine. Dr. Haigh should know that children process "traces" differently than adults, not just because of the weight factor, but infants do not shed toxins because their bodies are not developed enough to. It should have pointed out that Sanofi-Aventis offers a mercury free Fluzone and their products are now MERCURY Free. Those are important public facts.

I care so much because I am an aunt of 2 autistic children, mother of a son with developmental issues and in a circle of friends and co-workers that all seem to have children with some sort of neurological issue. These are important facts safety issues for you to alert the public and not make is seem like there are doctors just diagnosing "isms" to provide comfort for children's inappropriate behavior. The mere undertone of your article was disheartening.
Fact, my niece and nephew (brother and sister) DIDN'T have any signs of autism until their vaccines and were normal...they changed over a short period of time after their shots. Not coincidental that this and the fact that mercury was added 20 years ago which coincides with the explosion of the epidemic known as autism.

Also know, the MMR cannot contain Thimerosal (49.6% ethylmercury) because of the live cultures in the vaccination. I would like to recount a recent discussion I had with my Pediatrician. After she an I read the MMR shot insert from Merck, we both concluded safely there was NO thimerosal in the shot due to the live cultures cannot be combined mercury. However, I asked her is or was it uncommon to see combined shots that did contain thimerosal previous to the recent elimination from the vaccination schedule of mercury. She said yes. How can that be I said. Why on earth would doctors give a shot that can 't interact with thimerosal right after the MMR? Personally, I think this is where some of the damage has occurred.

Anti-freeze is great when used in a car, however, I would never think it would be okay to put into a vaccination. Even though there is nothing linking it to children's diseases ~ and even though there is no data stating it's good or bad I expect to have DISCLOSURE. Warning handout, that this could possibly be harmful to your child would suffice. So Doctor, it not just about what hasn't been proven, it about DISCLOSURE.

Does the amount of mercury in a shot matter? The theory is yes. In genetically susceptible children, even small amounts of mercury can damage the brain and the mercury buildup is cumulative in those children who lack the ability to shed it. To prevent parents from becoming anti vaccine friendly, we need to ensure public safety - which has NOT been proven.

You should note Scandinavian countries and several other have banned it's use. On 12/30/05 Autism was declared an epidemic by the National Institute of Mental Health, USA - it didn't get much attention. Public Safety and Disclosure should be first on the minds of our elected officials.

Also, we need to be clear about the type of autism you and others say is due to better diagnosing. According to Dr. Julia Whiting of Charlottesville, Virginia, USA - "full syndrome" autism and not PDD-NOS, Asperger's, etc.--now eclipse all other categories (including mental retardation, cerebral palsy and epilepsy combined). Full syndrome refers to children who are unable to speak, unable to look at others and have bizarre behaviors including flapping and spinning. How could the Doctor and the government agencies that say it's fine? How would they feel about trying VIOXX 100 times the recommended dose? All children that have been tested for mercury damage, prove they are off the toxicity charts.

You only touched upon the children, the elderly have a host of neurological disorders (coinciding like the above facts - not coincidental) like Alzheimer's, which has also drastically increased over the last 20 years. ~ Pharmaceutical companies should be held to the same standard, and so should your reporters.

Here's some research your News Group can easily track:
I urge you to check out the 5/22/2003 Congressional Record, all the fa cts were presented and some recommendations were made ~ none of which we are doing. Senator Dan Burton, David Kirby\\\'s book Evidence of Harm, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. - Whitepaper and recent appearance on Imus Show, Don Imus - Radio Show, the brilliant writer - Dan Olmsted. Drs. K.P. Stoller, Boyd Haley, F. Edward Yazbak, David Ayoub and Scientist Mike Wagnitz who tirelessly write to educate and plead to parents to demand answers. Those are this weeks folks that stand out, but there are thousands out there that have credentials. Of course there are hundreds of thousands of us that are affected by the neurological damage of Mercury.

#312 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 10:47 AM:

Janet @ 311

Lindt is pretty nice chocolate, with or without restrictions. (I bought a couple of small bars of E Guittard last week - one is 61% and one is 91%. 91% is pretty close to 'unsweetened', especially when compared to the 61% stuff.)

#313 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 10:48 AM:

ajay @ 292

Did it again; luckily I'd already finished my coffee before reading that. Just some loud sputtering, sorta like a V8 running on 7 cylinders and using watered gas.

And who could forget that classic, "Friday, the Rabbi Walked Through Walls". The original hardback edition came with an extra comma for the title, for those who like "Trix is for kids" jokes.*

* Oops, I dated myself again. Makes me a Heinlein protagonist for sure.

#314 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 10:48 AM:

I see we've been activist-tagged.

#315 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 10:49 AM:

Sigh Vaccines and autism again. Puts out a traffic cone. Ok folks, nothing to see here, back to your hand-washing thread there, please, move along.

#316 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 11:21 AM:

/Bill has been crit by #312 Wall of Text for 1000 points of Papercut damage
/Bill sustains 10% Brain Function damage

#317 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 11:22 AM:

Re my Rosebud mention in #307: Woops, that was Hearst, not Hughes, wasn't it? Blame it on insufficient morning coffee. (I *am* waking up, really I am!)

#318 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 11:23 AM:

All the chocoholics:

Green & Black's does an 85% Dark Chocolate (organic) and all their chocolate bars are to die for (in my opinion as a minor chocoholic).

I don't know how easy it is to get their chocolate in the USA.

#319 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 11:31 AM:

dcb @ 319
I've seen them - and eaten them, once, when they were on sale in the store where I happened to be. Very good, yes.

No evidence for that connection has been demonstrated, and they've been looking for one. While absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, it does not allow claiming connection. (In fact, at least one study has shown a few improved functions in connection with thimerosal.)

#320 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 11:44 AM:

I discovered about a month back that Hershey has put out a line of "artisanal" chocolates where the gimmick is that each variety is single-region. I remember that one in particular was quite striking but don't remember exactly which it was.

#321 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 11:55 AM:

There's no science to back up the vaccine --> autism idea.

There's lots of science to back up vaccine --> prevent disease idea.

Diseases kill people. Influenza kills people. Get your flu shot.

#322 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 11:57 AM:

I ended up chatting with the pathologists about work stuff, but today I will be asking about what kills bugs on the keyboard, H2O2, and long term use of hand sanitzer.

Got my flu shot yesterday, so I'm safer to have around the patients.

#323 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 11:59 AM:

I'm only just venturing into the darker chocolates--I hate Hershey's Special Dark, and Dove's dark chocolate is merely okay. But Hershey's Cacao Reserve (65% cacao, with or without cacao nibs) is faaaaaabulous. So good I stop after the first bite and sort of shudder.

I'm wondering if it is because it is the first time I've had anything with that much cacao in it. I can't find any percentages on the Dove, and I haven't tried anything else that lists numbers. Can the dark chocolate aficionados tell me if the Cacao Reserve is really any good? My grocery store has Green & Black (in the health food section, oddly). Does anyone have any other suggestions that the grocery is likely to have so I can experiment?

C. Wingate, #321: I've tried those, but none seemed memorable by comparison with the Cacao Reserve, so I can't help, sorry.

#324 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Does anyone know why there seems to be such a bias against preventive medicine? It seems like a trend, and people making up fake science and conspiracy theories about vaccines causing all kinds of problems is part of it. Even when I worked at the vet people were very resistant to using heartworm and tick preventives. I don't get it.

Unless it's part of the campaign to make us not want a working health care system?

#325 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 12:37 PM:

I think part of it is that preventative medicine works so well-- I've never known anyone who had measles, mumps, polio, whooping cough, et cetera. And everything has some chance of going wrong. People look at the effects of what they are told to do, like vaccinate, and see horror stories of autism, overstressed immune systems, et cetera. They look at what happens if they don't vaccinate... and it's nothing. As far as they can tell, the choices are horrible side effects or a long and happy life, whereas the actual choices may vary from possibility of mild side effects to a horrible death on either side. It's easier to say 'vaccinate' or 'don't vaccinate' than to say 'consider the benefits and risks of each side'.
The smallpox vaccine ended when the vaccine became more dangerous than the disease-- I didn't get that one. Same with tropical diseases, just not worth it. But flu happens.

#326 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Serge #308: The person who gave me my machine was most insistent that it be anti-bacterial liquid soap.

John L. #309: I do that too, as the second step.

#327 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 12:48 PM:

Ethan @325: I can't speak to the human resistance to getting vaccinated, but I know where the anti heartworm/tick prevantive folks are coming from...

Several years ago there were a large number of fatalities in dogs exposed to a certain flea/tick preventative. It got a lot of play on the dog lists, and voila, you get: "I'm not putting that on or feeding that to my dog!"

There is some research pointing to increased cases of cancer in animals that are vaccinated yearly -- some vets are going to an every 3 year schedule because of this.

#328 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 12:54 PM:

Diatryma @ 326

Actually the smallpox vaccinations ended when there stopped being cases of smallpox. They could do that because there are no known hosts besides humans, and vaccination stopped people being able to get it (and pass it to others). (Getting the vaccination meant you had a place on your arm that itched like crazy for three or four days.)

#329 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 12:54 PM:

ethan, I think it's part of people's "need for a reason", instead of accepting that shit happens for no reason at all. Life is random, but we can prepare even if we can't control.

My grandmother contracted rubella while pregnant with my mother. My mother has blindness, hearing loss, a heart defect, and I'm not sure what else from the rubella. My mother has so much wrong medically it's unreal, and she's why I did not choose a clinical field for my education.

Anyhoo, vaccinations are considered a really good idea in my family, because we can easily provide an example of what happens when they aren't available.

#330 ::: Schizohedron ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 01:03 PM:

#312 Suzanne:
Typical of many in the medical industry that choose preach their rhetoric about getting the flu shot, they neglect to mention a preservative found in some vaccines called thimerasol

My office gives free flu vaccines, and on the consent form, one of the check boxes inquires about Thimerosal allergy. Either consciousness of its presence, or CYA documentation, is growing; I don't know which, and I lack the background to enter the autism debate. All I know is this is the first employer in my 15-year work history to be wise enough to vaccinate for flu.

#331 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 01:10 PM:

Diatryma #326: *I* have had measles, mumps and chicken pox. I was vaccinated against two of them, but didn't get the boosters (which is why I got measles and chicken pox at 14, one right after the other).

I don't recommend having any of them.

#332 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 01:13 PM:

What upsets me greatly is this.

Every time I go into the bathroom here, after doing what I came to do, I proceed smartly to the sink and wash my hands with soap for approximately 30 seconds, rinse, dry, and go. (The faucets here are motion-sensitive, so I don't even have to deal with turning the water on and off.)

Every time someone else is in the bathroom with me, they stick their hands under the faucet for about two seconds, ignoring the soap, then dry and go. Meanwhile, they give me funny looks, as though I were muttering "Out, out, damned spot!" while washing my hands.

I work in the biomedical engineering department. I guess it's not exactly microbiologists, but still. These are people who know they need to treat their cardiac cell cultures with antibiotics. They always wash their hands in the lab. And yet, they act like washing your hands when you use the bathroom is a sign of weakness.

dcb @ 319, Green & Black sure does exist in the U.S., even in the relative food backwater of North Carolina. Last year, it was my post-Valentine's 50% off chocolate present. (I told my boyfriend that if given the choice, I would rather have him spend the same amount of money on February 15. Everything is clearanced, so I get twice as much chocolate.)

(He doesn't like chocolate, so I give him black licorice.)

#333 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 01:14 PM:

I'm planning to get the flu shot for the first time ever this year. How do I know if I've got a Thimerosal allergy? I've had vaccinations in the past, though the only one I can name for sure is the MMR, and I got a Tetnus booster recently. Would I have reacted to those if I had a Thimerosal allergy?

As for the bias against preventative seems I so often hear horror stories about pharmaceuticals in general that I've begun to distrust them all. If I think I can trust my immune system to handle the trouble without help, I'd rather do that. It isn't particularly reasonable, and I'm trying to stay balanced, but I know that's where my bias comes from.

#334 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 01:33 PM:

Be gentle with me, guys, I'm going to admit how very very stupid I am.

I really don't want to get a flu shot. I've never gotten one, I've never felt like I needed one. I'm not particularly afraid of it, I don't expect to get sick from it or anything, but even so I don't wanna.

When I was in my twenties, getting the flu (which I think I've done twice in my life) meant being sick for a while. I could take that, I was strong, I wasn't a whiner and it wouldn't kill me.

I don't know if it is greater knowledge of my own mortality, greater wisdom, greater cowardice, or being more informed about the fact that yes, I could die from flu, but this year I feel like I need the flu shot. I don't trust my immune system anymore.

Getting the shot feels like giving in to fear, admitting weakness, and I'm afraid that the admission itself will be the determining factor that leads me to get seriously sick this year. I'm afraid that by letting go of my bravado I'm making myself weak.

The really infuriating thing about this is that I would never in a million years suggest that someone who has a compromised immune system is weak for getting a flu shot. If you tell my why you're justified in getting the flu shot, I'll agree. Have kids? Yes, totally justified, not weak and cowardly. Can't afford to miss work? Fine. High risk family members? High risk job? Yeah, get the shot. But me? Weak and cowardly. They're stupid, stupid stories to tell myself.

It's pretty clear that I've been telling myself the wrong stories about sickness and strength, but changing them is going to take time. Meanwhile I'm getting the damn shot.

#335 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Re: vaccines

Okay, I'm going to try very hard not to sound like a crazy person here, but I think I need a paranoia calibration.

I'm all for vaccines: my father had polio as a child, with lots of complications later in life, and his was a pretty mild case. G-d bless the people who helped ensure that my son will never have to deal with that.


The chicken pox vaccine worries me a bit. No one can tell me whether it will give him a lifetime immunity, whether it will protect him from shingles or predispose him to it, and there hasn't been time, as I understand it, to do any long-term studies.

Right now, we've postponed it, with our pediatrician's approval. I check the "personal exemption" box on the daycare form, but I'm not willing to keep that up when there's a chance of him missing real school. That makes me feel like a hypocrite: "I feel very strongly about him not having this shot, until it might come up against his education, which I feel more strongly about, so I'm totally going to cave."

So, can anyone weigh in on this? Am I just pulling an "it was good enough for me, dag-nabbit?" Are there legitimate reasons to be wary?

Sigh. Some days I understand the appeal of letting the talking heads do all your thinking for you.

#336 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 01:47 PM:

R. M. Koske, since I'm someone who can't take the flu shot because I'm allergic to duck egg albumin, I commend you for going and getting one.

The way I see it, the folks who get the shot are my first line of defense, since they won't be spreading the flu to me.

The last time I got the flu it was because one of my co-workers continued to come to work, even though she was ill. The result was the most miserable birthday weekend I've ever had. Instead of enjoying Guy Fawkes Day fireworks, I spent the majority of the day in the bathroom...

#337 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 01:50 PM:

They waited until smallpox was gone to stop vaccinating? I thought it was only until the number of deaths due to complications of the shot was greater than those due to the disease. Slight difference, there, and sorry for the misleading bit.

I've had chicken pox-- worst Christmas ever. I was seven, my brother had just turned six, and my sister was four or thereabouts, and I brought it home from school the week before Christmas vacation. I don't remember anything of that, and I think I'm lucky for it.
Fragano, you have my extremely belated sympathies.

#338 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Sarah @336: Here is what I was able to Google on Chicken Pox:

Typically, chickenpox is a mild illness, but can affect some infants, teens, adults, and people with weak immune systems more severely. Some people can develop serious bacterial infections involving the skin, lungs, bones, joints, and the brain (encephalitis). Even kids with normal immune systems can occasionally develop complications, most commonly a skin infection near the blisters.

Anyone who has had chickenpox (or the chickenpox vaccine) as a child is at risk for developing shingles later in life, and up to 20% do. After an infection, VZV can remain inactive in nerve cells near the spinal cord and reactivate later as shingles, which can cause tingling, itching, or pain followed by a rash with red bumps and blisters. Shingles is sometimes treated with antiviral drugs, steroids, and pain medications, and in May 2006 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a vaccine to prevent shingles in people 60 and older

This is from

#339 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 01:58 PM:

If you have an allergy to tell them about, you already know about it, because you already had a reaction.

I think there are three factors at play in the anti-vaccine reactions. First, there's the one that's been mentioned: most people don't have experience with the consequences of the diseases. Second, it's documented to the point of being able to put numbers on it that intuitive assessment of risk is way, way off the mark. Third, there's a general lay mistrust/deprecation of authority figures, particularly in medicine. Poor medical reporting has the effect of making scientists look as if they don't know what they are talking about as well, because most people don't understand what should be discounted and what not, so the message they get from the flip-flopping is that the scientists really don't know.

#340 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Diatryma #338: Thanks.

#341 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Thanks, Lori @ 339. I'm surprised my ped. hadn't mentioned that about the shingles risk; the last time I asked, he said he wasn't aware of anything conclusive. If the risk is equal either way, it changes my opinion on the subject significantly.

(BTW, please don't think I'm Google-impaired; I've gotten out of the habit of checking for medical stuff because there's such a wealth of misinformation to be found. Thank you for doing my homework for me.)

#342 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:08 PM:

Re #312: Vaccines prevent disease; there is, in addition, a negative coorelation between MMR vaccines and autism.

Unfortunately, no amount of sound scientific research published in peer-reviewed journals and replicated frequently over decades prevents outbreaks of pseudoscientific paranoia on the internet.

#343 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Shingles comes from harboring the virus and having it outbreak when stress or something else supresses the immune response enough. It's possible from the vaccine because it's a live-virus preparation. Last I checked the jury was still out on how long it lasts. The vaccine is extremely safe. Getting chickenpox as an adult is not safe.

The way I figure it is that if all you are getting is protection from a really annoying disease, isn't that enough?

#344 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:16 PM:

Sarah, I usually Google to make sure the data I think I remember is right. When in doubt about a disease, I check CDC's site -- agreed with CDC, but was much more readable IMVHO, so that's where I grabbed the citation.

Here, I think the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential side effects.

#345 ::: melospiza ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:16 PM:

A dozen years ago, when I was in my forties, I had surgery and was off work at the hospital for six weeks, and thus missed my free flu shot. Already debilitated, I got the flu for Christmas. I hope I am never that sick again in my life. An ax in my head couldn't have hurt worse. My bones hurt. For a week I crawled out of bed to pee.

Then, even more debilitated, I got chickenpox for President's day. No fun for an adult, plus another three weeks off work, because my little poxies got infected and wouldn't scab over. Long out of sick time, I bathed in aloe vera and popped leftover Vicodin from my surgery just to stop itching. I highly recommend both flu shots and chickenpox vaccines.

Just my anecdotal 2¢.
I am also a lurker who has not been scared off Making Light.



#346 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:17 PM:

Just made a visit to Ocean State Job Lot (a New England area lot discounter), so I'll shill for them for a moment:

They (at least my Marlborough, MA store) have some Green and Black's chocolate in stock (but going fast), cheap too.

They have a NextCare item with bunches of surgical masks, gloves, single use thermometers, and handcleaner for $5. If you don't need enough of this kind of stuff to order from a medical supplier, this looks like a good price (I bought one just because the masks were sealed in sets of three so they'll stay clean in my ski patrol pack and my go bags.)

#347 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:25 PM:

Sarah @336: I rather regret having my kids get the chickenpox vaccine, and our doctor in fact suggested that it might be better to let them get the disease while they were young.
(But I was working full-time, didn't have enough vacation/sick days to care for them if they did get it, plus the school had it on the required shot list, and my kids are terrible scratchers ...)
So now they have to get boosters, as 10year olds who've had the shot as infants have been getting chickenpox.
It does not seem to that much immunity, and cp is so much worse if you get it as an adult.
I'm not anti-vaccine: we get flu shots each year, frex. But I'm wary of new vaccines, and I was one of those moms who insisted her babies get the killed/Salk polio shot rather than the live/Sabin one, before the CDC came out with the same rec. I guess I'm just opinionated.

#348 ::: folk on LJ ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:26 PM:

My take on this is not to freak out about it. I assume, living in London, that I'm going to get some sort of winter illness if I (a) take the Tube or bus or train, (b) go to work, (c) go out to eat. I wash my hands as well as I can after touching anything on public transport, going to the loo and when I can before eating.

Then again, if I get ill, I stay at home. Admittedly, the societal perspective of sick leave in the UK is different from los norteamericanos, and I'm in a stable white-collar sort of life, but still.

Having spent a year teaching in Beijing and having been almost consistently either ill or fighting off a cold or flu, I'm hoping that I've acquired a wider immunity than your average Westerner. Incidentally, hurrah for the Chinese word ganmao, which means anything from "I have a sniffle and a cough" to "I need my lungs drained". Wo ganmao le, or "I am ganmao-y" is so much more respectable than "I have a cold".

The same, admittedly, could be said for anyone living in or travelling regularly to a major world city — you get exposed to different nasties, get ill for a while, but then develop a resistance in a way. In my amateur way, I rather think that people living in tiny inward-looking communities don't have the benefit and are therefore going to die horribly in the Coming Pandemic. (Cheery, eh?) Anybody know if this is good sense, or just too much thriller-reading?

#349 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:29 PM:

John Houghton #347: Just made a visit to Ocean State Job Lot

Your adventure starts here!

#350 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Sarah, I ended up with shingles the summer after I had chicken-pox, when I was eight. I still have single-lesion outbreaks every once in a while. The prodrome is miserable.

On the other hand, my sister had a mild case of chicken-pox with only a few lesions on her face every one of which turned into a large mole. I'm pretty sure her opinion on the vaccine matches mine: whatever very small risk there might be, it's dwarfed by the probability of life-long consequences of the disease.

#351 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:42 PM:

Chicken pox, I was told, is a virus that comes in a wide spectrum, from very mild to potentially lethal. So, a bit like a 'flu virus, I believe, the vaccine is aimed at the most likely, most nasty strains to be encountered.

They don't routinely vaccinate against it here in the UK because it won't guarantee prevention.

I am not a medical professional or anything close. I was told all this when my husband caught chicken pox off our two small children. He'd never had it. He'd only ever had rubella and scarletina. But his brother and his cousins all had chicken pox as kids, so the doctors reckoned he'd have had sub-clinical exposure, enough to get some antibodies in.

They were wrong. He spent his 40th birthday in isolation in our local hospital's infectious diseases ward on intravenous acyclovir. Chicken pox got into his lungs. He nearly died. He was off work for a month in total.

It was apparently the nastiest strain of chicken pox virus that local doctors had encountered in decades. In that both our children were sick enough to not get out of bed for over a week. You could not put a finger on them without touching a spot and my youngest had patches on him the size of my hand where spots just ran into each other. Spots under eyelids, in their mouths, their ears, on other very sensitive mucous membranes - bearing in mind non-medical circumcision is comparatively rare here.

Compare and contrast with one of my godsons who had I believe a total of five spots and was mildly grouchy for three days.

Even once the spots were gone, all three chaps here were continually unwell until Easter. Oh, didn't I say? This happened over Christmas and New Year. Come Easter I caught 'flu that had me flat on my back for a week. Then I caught a different strain of 'flu that knocked me back for another fortnight. And I do mean 'flu - raging fever, aches, delerium, the whole works. And I'd had a 'flu shot the previous autumn.

It really was not our year for medical good fortune. But let's hear it for the good old National Health Service.

#352 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 02:46 PM:

C. Wingate, #340: Thanks, that helps.

I read somewhere (in a discussion of climate change reporting, I think) that good scientists will almost invariably refuse to state that they're certain about something,* and crackpots are quite likely to insist that they're certain. Reporters present both sides as a theoretically balanced account, and the good scientists come off looking like they don't know what they're talking about. It's unfortunate, and it's hard to know how to mentally guard against that kind of thing.

That's part of why I like it here - discussion here sets good examples for both critical thinking and how to go about sharply disagreeing while remaining civil. They're both skills I want to have.

*Because to do otherwise isn't good science.

#353 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Serge 230: And Xopher's symbol as a world-destroyer is the ukulele.

Actually, my boyfriend and I HAVE been talking about acting out some yaoi it semes that I'll be playing the uke-lay-lay.

(Yeah, I know, wit of the staircase.)

#354 ::: folk on LJ ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 03:48 PM:

Xopher@354: Wit of the high-speed escalator, shurely...

#355 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 04:41 PM:

Re: dark chocolate: a couple of people have told me that they don't usually like dark chocolate, but have enjoyed the Ghirardelli 60% that's one of the varieties I keep in a jar on my desk.

Paula Helm Murray @ #280: a Bath room, where one can wash off in a shower to as sanitary as possile, then have a nice, warm soaking bath at the end

I realize that moving to Japan is probably not a useful alternative, but if you ever vacation there, you'll *really* like the bathing facilities.

#356 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Re chickenpox, are there different strains or do people just respond differently? (I realise I can Google this, and likely will, but I always like to ask too.)

I had chicken pox as a young adult - the first day I had huge, I mean really huge bumps on my head and went to my doctor who made all kinds of ooOOOoo noises and told me to hurry home and get ready for something bad, so I did and made soup and laid in tissues and painkillers and juice etc....and then I was barely sick. Few spots, felt fine, I just tried to keep away from people (I was living in a fifty person collective, so I posted signs around for people to avoid me), no big deal at all.

Years later, all three of my sons caught it, the youngest was a baby, but I don't recall any of them being terribly sick, or having many spots. Actually, I'm having a hard time remembering much of that time, they were all under five. Think that might be a contributing factor? :)

#357 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 07:28 PM:

On the vaccines are evil thread ...

I reccommended to a local woman that she vaccinate her puppy against parvo because it was going around. Oh, no, no, no! Vaccines are evil!

She mentioned the "thimerosol" word. She insisted that thimerosol caused weakened immune systems and autism. And likely global warming. And that vaccines cause cancer.

Well, the puppy wasn't autistic when he died of parvo ...


-- Leva

#358 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 08:21 PM:

ethan (350):
[re: Ocean State Job Lot]
Your adventure starts here!

So Thursday is the new ad day, and at my local store it is also the big delivery day. Result: new specials, new inventory, but the aisles are blocked by skids of product, merchandisers being assembled, etc. To the point that the fire inspector ought to take notice. So it really is an adventure, "you are in a maze of twisty little passages, all different".

#359 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 08:40 PM:

John Houghton #359: If one of my options is If you run like hell, turn to page 57, I'll turn to page 57, please. My mother loves that store (though they've recently run out of her favorite chocolate), but how she can handle it is beyond me.

#360 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 10:06 PM:

everstar, #305, sorry, I should have been more specific -- have them under the water when you rinse them.

Diatryma, #326, we know I had all childhood diseases because the doctor did tests for antibodies before I went on an immunosuppressant some years ago. My mother always said I'd never had any, so I must have had really mild infections while my brother was sick.

#361 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2007, 10:49 PM:

When I was a kid, everybody got the childhood diseases. I was unusual in that I didn't get German measles, and indeed have never had it, which is too bad. It can be nasty for adults. I had chickenpox, mumps, measles. I understand that these days, most children do not contract the diseases my generation took for granted. I find myself wondering if that is a good thing. (Not that I would wish Juliet's family's experience on anyone -- surely not.) We all -- humans, collectively -- live exposed to a soup of viruses and bacteria in the air, the dirt, our own guts, and this exposure surely kills some of us under certain conditions, but it also strengthens more of us.

Please note, I'm not objecting to vaccines. I was vaccinated for smallpox and I was part of the 1954 field trial that demonstrated the value of the Salk polio vaccine. I and my classmates understood exactly what was going on, and were very proud to be part of the experiment. We had all been kept indoors, away from public places, due to polio scares. My next door neighbor was disabled by polio and came to school in a wheelchair. This spring I was told about the shingles vaccine. My father's last two years of life were made quite painful by the nerve pain that can linger after a case of the shingles; you bet I got the shot. I'm due for the pneumonia vaccine later this year.

I'm just wondering about the Law of Unintended Consequences.

If any of the folks who linger here and know more about this than I do would care to opine, I'd gladly learn from them.

#362 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 12:33 AM:

Whenever the word "pileon" appears, my brain sees a vaguely foreign-looking word that might be pronounced pilly-on.

#363 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 03:19 AM:

Random chocolate abuse, just to balance out all these high-falutin' recommendations from folks:

Take ye a standard bar of Twix.

Break it in half.

Unwrap a slice of whatever I Can Sure As Hell Believe This Ain't Really Cheese processed cheese food you have in the fridge. Kraft, Velveeta, whatever.

Wrap half a Twix in the the chz slice.


No, really. It's surprisingly tasty.

#364 ::: dan ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 03:20 AM:

Fragano@306 re CPAP: Two decent links:



One of the keys is using distilled water in the humidifier; the other is to run hot water through everything daily and dry the mask thoroughly before using.

#365 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 06:27 AM:

I have some Ivory bar soap that I use to wash my mask with -- I wet my hands, rub the ivory on them, then rub the mask and spacer. Then I rinse it and hang it up to dry. Once a week I take the hose off and pour in some dishwashing liquid (which does have triclosan; I never thought that might be an issue) and some vinegar. I then slosh the vinegar around a few times, and rinse thoroughly and air dry. The hose never seems to dry completely, and there is always a bit of lingering smell of the soap let me rinse never so much. But it seems to work OK for me.

I don't bother using a humidifier with the machine. I tried it a few times and it didn't seem to give enough benefit to be worth the hassle.

#366 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 06:32 AM:

R.M. Koske@324: I've had some of the Cacao Reserve, and found it surprisingly good...for values of "surprisingly" that translate to "I expected this to be crap because it says 'Hershey' on it, but it's not." Which is to say, if you like that then you have a whole world of taste treats in front of you. Definitely try that Green & Black's; also if you can find Scharffen Berger 62% Semi-Sweet, I'd recommend that. (Actually, Scharffen Berger was acquired by Hershey some years ago. Fortunately, Hershey doesn't seem to have ruined them. I suspect that Hershey was intending to use some of SB's knowledge to develop their own dark chocolates.)

My favorite chocolate brand is actually an imported French chocolate called Valrhona; specifically their "Le Noir Amer" 71%. If you can get some of that, try it!

#367 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 09:06 AM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little, #364 - Ooh, that sounds good. Well, except for the processed cheese food*. Processed cheese I have in the fridge = none. I've eaten sharp cheddar with vanilla wafers and been in heaven. I'd go for mild cheddar for this. But otherwise, num. Cheese and sweets is fabulous. (I'm not a chocolate snob. I am, apparently, a cheese snob. Heh.)

David Goldfarb, #367 - I suspected that Cacao Reserve might be pretty good with much better out there waiting for me. Thanks for the recommendations!

*Didn't a comedian point out that if they have to tell you that it's food, you should worry?

#368 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 10:10 AM:

"Cheese food" is what cheese eats.

"American cheese" is made from oil, colour, and American Whey.

#369 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 11:30 AM:

And "process" is something done by chemical plants, not by cheese.

All that talk about chocolate sent me to the pantry to find some. Horror of horrors, all I have is one box of Droste Pastilles - at least they're dark chocolate, and about 100 mg of 99% chocolate chips. While truly great, the latter is not something I can eat much of at one time. But there were several Green and Black bars, and at least one of Lindt 80% dark. Must have eaten them in some sort of zombified state, and forgotten about it. Shopping run tonight.

#370 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 11:40 AM:

Bruce @ 370:

We, too, are nearly out of chocolate, as I discovered for the same reason. All we have are the mini Butterfingers that my step-father & -mother sent to the munchkin in his Halloween package, and I'm not yet so depraved that I'll stoop to stealing my own kid's candy.

Of course, it helps that I have pumpkin gelato to take the edge off.

(BTW, spell-check doesn't believe in gelato.)

#371 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 11:43 AM:

Bruce @ 370 You had to raid your pantry. I went out to the all night supermarket for a $30.00 munchie run.

Yet still no Jewish Chocolate Heinleins.

#372 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 12:02 PM:

Imported chocolates:
Try Cost Plus World Markets. (Always fun in the food section, and most of their stuff never shows up in the supermarkets.)

#373 ::: thanbo ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Sarah @ 264:

As a Reconstructionist (Reform by default here in the West coast Jew-vacuum) with a goyishe sweetie, I'm as uncomfortable with the Orthodox options as they are with me...

I'm a bit surprised that the Orthodox mohalim would be uncomfortable with you. After all, even according to their standards, your offspring are Jews, and your sons would need milah (what a mohel does, I'm not going to use the C word for fear of attracting the anti-C zealots).

I've been a sandek (one who holds the child) at the bris of a fan-child, father non-practicing Catholic, mother non-practicing Jewish, Orthodox mohel. I've been a witness at another fan-child milah where the mother (and hence the child) were not Jewish, but the mohel was Orthodox, and he had no problem with it. The father's Reform parents apparently insisted on it. The mohel just use the blessings for a conversion, rather than for a native-birth, such that, if the boy wants to convert later in life, he has that part done.

You might be uncomfortable with them, but in my experience in NYC, mohalim generally try to make it a positive experience for the parents, as well as relatively painless for the child.

as a goy, I'll skip the part about the mohel

Non-Jews may need a mohel as well, what if they want to convert? Males have to have milah, or at least a tiny puncture if they are already circced, for which one needs a mohel. Actually, if an adult, they probably would want a urologist as well.


at the risk of flogging a dead horse, this crowd can seem rather harsh on first contact. My first attempts to post to rec.arts.sf.fandom, a predecessor to this group, were greeted with a lot of negativity, mostly impatience at my less-than-fully-thought-out position, but I persevered and was accepted.

#374 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 12:50 PM:

Thanbo @ 374:

Oh, any of them would have done it for me, I just got the feeling with the ones I talked to that they Didn't Approve. I admit, I'm a bit touchy on the subject, after defending my choices a fair bit over the years. It's also true that, for various reasons, I wasn't able to meet anyone in person while I was lining things up, so it may well have been an email misinterpretation.

I did get the feeling from talking to my sister in Boston that people are a bit more laid-back on that side of the country; out here I sometimes feel like Jews are such a rarity that we get stuck in an always-on, do-it-perfectly mode. I'd like to try living somewhere where we're better represented, if only to see whether it's a regional tic, or just my own issue.

#375 ::: dan ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 12:58 PM:

Bruce@370: toss the chips in the freezer and just parcel them out. Alternating them with something salty (say, low fat potato chipe) can get you by until you can make it to the store <g>!

#376 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Thanbo and Sarah's discussion may delimnate the difference between being Jewish in New York and Seattle more clearly than even the whole issue of bagels. Sarah's description is very much in line with several I've heard before.

#377 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 02:12 PM:

Dan #365 & David Goldfarb # 366: Thanks!

I don't use a humidifier (otoh, I live in Atlanta).

#378 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 02:43 PM:

OH, 'mohel' == 'moil' (as I've seen it spelled). Now I get it.

I'm pretty anti-circ, actually. But the bris is a religious thing, and therefore NOMB. But if I had, or ever have, a boy child, he would/will be circ'd over my charred and smoking corpse. I've seen how uncut ones work, you see. The difference in the pleasure experienced by the man is dramatic and obvious.

Did you hear about the guy whose watch broke? He passed a shop with a grandfather clock in the window and went in.

"Say, can you fix my watch?"
"No, I can't fix your watch!"
"Why not?"
"Because I'm a mohel."
"A mohel?! Why do you have a grandfather clock in your window?"
"Well, what do you WANT I should have in my window?!"

#379 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 03:12 PM:

Just to throw the chocolate discussion in a different direction: the worst "food" (that is, substance with nutritive value that had not been damaged by spoilage) I ever had was a carob bar "sweetened" with licorice and flavored with mint.

#380 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 04:49 PM:

C. WIngate @ 380

Oh, thanks, now I have to go wash out my ears to get that taste out of them.

JKRichard @ 372

I'll settle for an Anderson or an Asimov about now.

#381 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 05:13 PM:

C. Wingate, #380 -

Would "tasteless" a proper analogue for "tone deaf" in this situation? (Is analogue even the word I want?)

#382 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 05:14 PM:

OK, I'm currently being frustrated trying to find chocolate molds that create a shell that I can then fill. There are several sites where they say they have "fillable molds," but that could mean you can fill the mold, not the chocolate. The one that has the shapes I want shows the finished chocolate, which may or may not have something in the middle, and doesn't show the mold at all!

None of them say whether the molds are in two parts (except for "3D" molds, which are for free-standing figures, again not what I want). The closest I could come to any instruction on using them a) had me carefully painting the chocolate up the side of the mold, which I know I don't have patience for, and b) resulted in a chocolate with an open top, which is fine for a party but which I can't ship, filled with runny rum buttercream, to my dad in California.

Anybody have a) knowledge/experience in these matters or b) better Google-fu than me?

#383 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 05:30 PM:

Xopher @ 383

For a couple Solstices running, I made truffles for various people, and this is what I found workable (it is both messy and time-consuming, but somewhat less so than painting the chocolate up the sides of the molds):

Buy the cheap plastic "truffle" molds from Michael's (or wherever). Fill them with tempered chocolate, and cool in the fridge for... I think we found ~5 minutes was ample. Then turn the mold over, over the pot of tempered chocolate, letting the middle part run out. Fill with whatever. Chill (until firm is best--my white chocolate rose cream had to be frozen, it was so runny), then (working rapidly) spoon tempered chocolate over the filling, making sure it reaches and meets the edges of the previous shell.

It's a PITA, but it worked.

#384 ::: P J evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 05:43 PM:

Xopher @ 383

I think the idea is that you make two halves, fill each one, then stick them together by painting each edge with still-liquid chocolate - or you soften the edges before sticking them together. (PITA, either way.)
You might be able to stick the halves together, leaving a gap, then very carefully add a more-or-less liquid filling, and seal the gap, also. (Still PITA.)

Or you make truffle-type fillings and dip them in chocolate. (Evil Mad Scientist has pumpkin-pie-spiced truffles this month.)

#385 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 05:44 PM:

OK, I surrender. I admit complete google foo failure. What the heck is a Heinlein that doesn't involve Starship Troopers and the like?

#386 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 06:00 PM:

alsafi 384: I'm sure that would work. I'm just hoping for something like a hinged mold with a "male" side and a "female" side that makes something already hollow. I'm pretty sure I can close it up once I get that far.

And my rum buttercream...well, if it will freeze it doesn't have enough rum in it!

P J 385: The problem is how to get the hollow halves formed in the first place. I have no problem with sticking them together.

Last year I worked by enrobing (dipping the centers). This resulted in too thick a chocolate coating for the amount of filling, and sharply limited the amount of rum I could put in the rum buttercream (to "not enough"). It similarly affected the ginger buttercream (made with fresh-squeezed ginger juice...which I'd've thought would freeze BETTER the more juice I put in, but this did not prove to be the case). Also this year I ambish to fill some with dulce de leche, and that, I know from bitter experience, doesn't even thicken when you put it in the freezer.

I know I can get a lower-viscosity chocolate that will make a thinner coating, but I like the Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa chips (I melt them in my tempering machine).

#387 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 06:04 PM:

P J evans @ 385:

I don't know about Xopher, but I tried the "make truffle fillings and dip them in chocolate" and... found I lack the finesse to manage that one. The truffle centers invariably melted into the tempered chocolate.

My lovely partner and I thought they were really tasty, but they weren't all that as gifts. (Happy Midwinter! I wrapped the whole Pyrex bowl, with the spoon still in it!)

#388 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 06:07 PM:

I see Xopher has the necessary finesse, however. Not sure why I would have doubted that. ;)

#389 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 06:44 PM:

Well, I dipped frozen buttercream centers. I made the buttercream like icing, used a pastry tube to squeeze out cones of it onto a cutting board covered with parchment paper, stuck a toothpick in each one, and put the whole cutting board in the freezer.

When they were hardened, I dipped them into the tempered chocolate and dropped them into the "molds" (really small silicone muffin pans of various shapes). Let the chocolate harden slightly, and a quick twist got the toothpick out (sometimes I had to repair the hole).

Result: Mostly OK, but the chocolate was too thick. Also see above re failure of this process for rum and ginger buttercreams, and why it can't be used at all for dulce de leche.

#390 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 06:48 PM:

Oh, THAT's why the ginger failed. It wasn't that it wouldn't freeze; it's that putting in enough ginger juice meant that it wouldn't hold the cone shape long enough TO freeze. Now I remember.

#391 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 06:55 PM:

Could this help the confectioners?

#392 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2007, 07:08 PM:

@ Xopher #387: "And my rum buttercream...well, if it will freeze it doesn't have enough rum in it!"

You'd be surprised! I managed to make viable ice cream that was largely composed of coconut rum and kahlua (and coconut milk and crushed pineapple).

For shells halves, howzabout a round mold slightly larger than a pingpong ball or similar, into which you could put chocolate and the aforementioned pingpong ball or similar, throughly cleaned of course?

#393 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2007, 02:01 PM:

Jim, on the issue of disinfecting surfaces - my own inclination is to avoid bleach (icky stuff for multicellular beings as well) in favor of the sort of disinfectant concentrates you can get at janitorial-supply stores, the kind labeled "hospital grade" or which list what types of bad critters they are able to kill. Of course, while IAAL, IANAD. Your view?

#394 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2007, 02:29 PM:

Xopher @ 387: "And my rum buttercream...well, if it will freeze it doesn't have enough rum in it!"

Perhaps you should try liquid nitrogen?

#395 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2007, 02:44 PM:

I wish I lived close enough to you all that I could scam chocolates off of you. Or maybe just Xopher, whose prose melts in the brain but not on the screen.

#396 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Abi @ 396... Xopher, whose prose melts in the brain but not on the screen...

...and it's low-cal.

#397 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2007, 03:59 PM:

Belatedly catching up on this thread, which certainly turned interesting...

Patrick @ 212:

Weird. I thought I was the only one who did that, with those exact words. Did you make it up as a spin on the usage in BotR too?

#398 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2007, 07:21 PM:

When I've read recipes where they do chocolate shells:

ISTR (cookbook not at hand; I'm cat-sitting) that first you polish the inside of your clean mold with cotton, then (I'm guessing) you chill it. Pour the warm chocolate in, tilt the mold to cover it with the chocolate, then pour out all the chocolate that hasn't promptly set (back into the rest, I'd expect). PITA. I think they were making chocolate-shelled eggs. They really emphasized the polishing of the mold, presumably so the finished piece is smooth (and shiny?)outside.

Truffles - I'd think you'd have to chill the centers really thoroughly to dip them. But that's my guess; I haven't tried it. Yet.

#399 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2007, 08:03 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 389

I like the idea of liquid nitrogen. Adding that Ian's comment @ 192 I'm thinking flash-frozen chocolate-covered whole rats. With nougat.

#400 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2007, 12:01 PM:

folk@349: sick leave "policies" are more sensible in the UK than in the US (starting with, AFAIK you \all/ get some, where many here don't).

Koske@334: (seconding/detailing another poster) If you're really worried about self-image, tell yourself it's not about you; it's about the people you won't infect through catching the flu and not going home soon enough.

Joel@369: I looked up the specs many years ago after somebody answered me with that joke; the difference between cheese and "cheese food" is the amount of \water/ that's allowed. I think this is structurally similar to the addition of water-plus-gelatin to ham to "make up" for the water "lost" during curing (quotes because IMO part of the curing process is reducing the moisture content).

xopher@379: "moil" is about how I've heard it pronounced (even outside a "comedy" sketch with the line "But the mohel slipped and made me into a goil!"). Ear-to-page spelling strikes again....

#401 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2007, 01:43 PM:

CHip, #401 (And Lori, #337) - Thanks. That sounds like an effective tactic for the reprogramming.

#402 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2007, 05:51 PM:

There are two reasons for getting vaccinated/having your children vaccinated:

1) Avoiding getting the disease (and you don't know you of your children are going to be lucky and get only mild clinical signs if you/they get the disease).

2) Providing herd immunity for those who cannot be vaccinated (e.g. egg allergy, where relevant for egg-grown vaccines) and/or would have a really hard time with the disease (the immunocompromised, fetuses in utero when the mother gets rubella (German measles) etc.). In other words, your immunity helps protect the vulnerable.

Leva Cygnet @ 358. I've seen pups with parvo, with stinking bloody diarrhoea (you never quite forget that stench), getting thinner and thinner and weaker and weaker - and some of them dying, and the ones that survived looking walking skeletons. I've seen a pup belonging to a homeless man, the guy's only companion, shaking/twitching so badly from the aftermath of canine distemper (hard pad) that it had to be euthanised (every time it tried to lie down and sleep with its head on its forelegs the twitching got so bad it woke itself up again). A friend lost her beloved cat to FeLV. These are nasty, and PREVENTABLE, diseases. Get your pets vaccinated. Yes, there are possible links between repeated vaccinations and skin cancers, but the risks from the the disease are so much higher.

#403 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2007, 01:22 AM:

A thing I'm wondering about with is somewhat related to #394... Butcher blocks and built-in wood countertops you're supposed to cut things on. Bwuh? Wood is already full of holes to collect bacteria, (but you use it anyway because anything else dulls the knives) but built in so you can't wash it off with high-temperature water and dish soap?! I feel that there's something I'm not getting.

#404 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2007, 01:31 AM:

Madaline 404,
You can put sanitizing bleach solution(10%) in a spray bottle and spritz the wood board after wiping/scrubbing down and let it air dry. They did lab work that shows if you keep the board clean it is at low risk, wood ph is unfavorable to bacteria if clean. Also you can once and a while as the board wears down resand it and seal the wood with food safe oil(sunflower works best) for a new cutting surface.
Extra safety is to use the board for meats only and use a different board for other food items or reverse that make the portable board meat only and the built in other foods. Depends on what kind of cooking you do more of.

#405 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2007, 01:43 AM:

I have heard but not confirmed that wood is better for cutting boards because no matter what they're made of, they collect bacteria-- glass fractures a bit, plastic scratches, et cetera. I like my wood one better than my plastic one because it's not as scraped up.
Of course, it's fairly cheap, so it has a big flaky spot where the sponge snags, and it's no fun at all figuring out whether to sand it down, and how, and whether this will happen annually.

#406 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2007, 02:09 AM:

dcb @ 403

but the risks from the the disease are so much higher.

Especially if you take your pet outside for exercise, since so many people don't vaccinate their animals and yet take them outside to expose others to them. We've had a parvo problem here almost every year because people bring their unvaccinated dogs to the dog exercise parks.

That's one of several reasons why I stopped taking my last dog to all but one small park right near our house for the last 2 years of his life. He died somewhat prematurely, but not of any of the communicable diseases that were going around.

#407 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2007, 09:56 PM:

I have plastic cutting boards, but they go in the dishwasher to get clean.

#408 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2007, 11:20 PM:

After cutting vegetables, I wash down my cutting board with ordinary dish soap and hot water.

After cutting meat, I scrub it with hot water and a dilute scouring powder mix.

Then I microwave it for five minutes.

Anything that can survive that is my evolutionary superior and welcome to eat me from the inside out.

#409 ::: strawhat ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2007, 11:38 PM:

And speaking of nasal saline rinses (what? That was an hour ago? Well. . .) Since I started that, I haven't had a cold or sinus infection and I used to get them *all the time.* Every day, salt water a la neti pot. No more colds for me. Hurray!

#410 ::: Hector Owen ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2007, 08:27 PM:

NY Times catches up to Making Light: Best Defense Against Drug-Resistant Bacteria: Wash Your Hands. Nice electron micrograph image of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

#411 ::: Curt Phillips ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 04:14 PM:

This is an interesting if extremly long thread and I thank James MacDonald for his initial post. It's a very well written summary of why effective hand-washing is a valuable tool in limiting the spread of disease vectors and I may pass on what he wrote to others. I'm a surgical RN and get asked about this sort of thing all the time. I did read down to message #33 where "neon" writes "I don't think you know all that you think you do." That's usually true for every man, wonam, and child on the planet but in this case the advice James gave here is rock solid. Frequent hand-washing is indeed the best way to limit the spread of microbes that cause the Flu. And "neon"s comment that "I never get the flu. The last time I got it was... maybe 30 years ago. I never get anything more a a slight sniffle. I never get infections and I often have scratches on my skin. I never microwave my dish sponge either. Of course I use it every day and it rarely dries out and again, I never get sick or get an upset stomach" reminds me of the loonys who firmly believe that it's safer to *not* wear a seatbelt if you have a car wreck so that they "won't get trapped in the car". As an RN I can tell you that the numbers are firmly against both ideas. Those who avoid the annual Flu shots on the theory that the shot itself can make you sick are on somewhat firmer ground, but again the numbers greatly favor getting the shot. I'll be getting mine tomorrow at work. It usually makes me feel ill for about a day, but I'd rather have that then have the flu again.

Curt Phillips, RN

#412 ::: Curt Phillips ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 04:51 PM:

P. J. Evans @329

I'm not sure when routine smallpox vaccinations were halted in the US but I had one at the age of 7 in 1966. And in 2002 the Federal government drew up plans to provide mass innoculations of the public in the event of a terrorist biological attack with smallpox. Large stockpiles of the vaccine were hurriedly made and stockpiled and a limited number of healthcare professionals across the country were offered the vaccine on a voluntary basis so that if there was such an attack there would be some doctors, nurses, and EMTs around to take care of the first flood of smallpox cases. I was one of about 75 hospital staff who got the vaccine at my hospital and during the time that we monitered those 75 people for adverse reactions I happened to be one of the nurses who checked those 75. Only 2 had any adverse reaction at all and that was limited to redness and swelling at the innoculation site. And everyone usually worries about the pain of getting the smallpox vaccine. There was actually less pain involved than there is in donating blood - which I do regularly every 8 weeks.

Not that anyone asked, but I just thought I'd toss this in.

Curt Phillips

#413 ::: Curt Phillips ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 05:08 PM:

Wood cutting boards as a breeding ground for bacteria: An interesting question. On the one hand, raw wood is acidic and thus a less likely place for bacteria to thrive, but on the other hand a porus wood surface would tend to soak up blood and other goodies that a bacterium would find attractive. I'll leave this question for those more knowledgeable.

On anti-microbial wipes: we have some at work marketed under the name "Cavicide Wipes" that we've adopted for use in our operating rooms. Our infection control people trialed 4 or 5 different brands last year and liked these the best, but I haven't seen the results of any cultures they may have run. We're told not to use these wipes with bare hands (though I do) out of concern that the active ingrediant will hurt our skin. And I don't even know if Cavicide is something that can be bought at Wal-Mart or not. The original suggestion of a 10 to 1 water and bleach solution is still the best general disinfectant I know of. This is what we used to wipe down out ambulances when I was an active EMT. Just mix a fresh batch once a week, and only mix what you'll need for that week. The solution tends to break down after a week. And the smell takes a little getting used to.

Curt Phillips

#414 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 06:59 PM:

reminds me of the loonys who firmly believe that it's safer to *not* wear a seatbelt if you have a car wreck so that they "won't get trapped in the car".

Oh, ghu. We did that conversation. Over and over, we did that conversation. Don't remind me. Thanks for your posts, though, Curt. And if you think this thread is long, I can assure you we can go much longer when we really get our ya-yas out.

#415 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 07:24 PM:

I was one of the EMTs who got the smallpox inoculation back in 2002. Itched a bit.

I remember when one of the standard things you could buy in drug stores was a plastic shield you could tape over the site of a smallpox inoculation to keep your clothes from rubbing on it.

If you're into old and cheesy movies you can still find sword-and-sandal movies where the gladiators have obvious smallpox inoculation scars on their arms.

#416 ::: Curt Phillips ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 07:53 PM:


"If you're into old and cheesy movies you can still find sword-and-sandal movies where the gladiators have obvious smallpox inoculation scars on their arms."

Sure, if you're of a certain age (I'm 48) then that smallpox innoculation scar is something of a generational constant. I had one myself from back in the 1960's but after about 30 years it pretty much faded away. I didn't get any scarring at all from the 2002 innoculation.

You know, the government halted that 2002 innoculation series way early - at least here in Southwest Virginia/Northeast Tennessee. We were told that all health care personell would have a chance to get it in due course, but we only accomplished the first wave down here. I've no idea why. I do know that the vaccine was produced in sufficient quanity and remains available in the National Stockpile but no one ever explained why the innoculations wern't continued.

How do you guys make quotes appear in italics like that?

James, where do you work in EMS at? I was an FF/EMT-ST with the Washington Co. VA Vol. Fire Rescue for 8 years till the time demands of my job made it impossible for me to continue. It's funny; I would never have become an RN if I hadn't started as a volunteer EMT, and then being an RN made it impossible to continue working as an EMT. So - as Vonnegut said - it goes...

Curt Phillips

#417 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 08:18 PM:

Curt, in #417

To italicise your text you need to use some html:
will give you:

Or, maybe you like:
<b>bold</b> = bold
There's a few more, but I'm not sure what else works here (I'm pretty sure changing the colour doesn't, if my failed font color="orange" test is any indication).

Re smallpox innoculations:
I'm 35 and I have a smallpox innoculation scar, from when a I was a wee tiny lass, en route to PNG. It's quite a conversation starter.

#418 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 08:28 PM:

I think the big scars are from earlier vaccinations. The last one I got (in 1968) left so small a scar that I haven't been able to find it since about two years afterward. I remember which arm it was in, though.
(Early on they used thighs for vaccinations.)

#419 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 08:37 PM:

I'm with the Colebrook Ambulance Corps in Colebrook, New Hampshire.

#420 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 08:39 PM:

If I remember right, guys got 'em on their arms, girls got 'em on their thighs.

#421 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 08:49 PM:

I dunno, I got my smallpox vaccine on my arm, and so did most of my age cohort of females (born 1952).

#422 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 08:55 PM:

Mine's on my arm, too.

#423 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 08:59 PM:

I still have the National Geographic issue when the announce the last official case of small pox with photos.
My younger sisters have the monster starburst scar on their arms I don't. I remember polio being an oral pink liquid, is that still the case? I had rubella shots more than once because the district health nurse forgot to stamp the file card. So unfair only girls got that shot.

#424 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 09:24 PM:

T.W., I got the polio vaccine on a sugar cube. I remember that I wished all vaccinations were so pleasant.

#425 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 10:11 PM:

Arms for boys and legs for girls must have just been my local area, then. The thinking was that the scar on the leg wouldn't show when you were wearing a sleeveless dress.

#426 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 10:15 PM:

If your earlier smallpox vaccination was still being even somewhat effective, the more recent one won't leave any, or much of a scar. I didn't have a scar from my early childhood vaccine (and my Mom said once that it was an experimental version), I was revaccinated in 1971, and had a full blown primary response (big sore, fever, bedridden for a few days, and it left a scar).
The recent wave of vaccinations were stopped apparently because, after analysis, it was felt that the risk from the vaccine was greater than the risk of someone using smallpox as a bioweapon.
The resistance of a lot of folks on the first-wave list probably had something to do with it as well. The govt. wanted people to get the vaccine, but didn't want to cover the sick time and costs for the people with adverse reactions.

They've stopped using the oral version of the polio vaccine in the US because, since it is an attenuated live virus, it could become active enough to infect people around the vaccinated person.

#427 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Jim @ #426, My 81-year-old mother had the smallpox vaccination on her thigh when she was a youngster (probably in Phoenix). I had mine on my left arm (Connecticut, probably, in 1956-1957).

#428 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2007, 11:36 PM:

Curt (#417) re italics, etc. ema nymtonsti's method (#419) works, but also if you look in the box above the "Type your name here:" comment field there's instructions for "HTML Tags". The security system strips a lot of other HTML codes out if you try to put in fancy stuff, but the 'entities' for different characters, <, § ° © …, £, †, €, ¢, œ, —, ψ, ⇒, ♠, >, &c, mostly seem to work.

Salk is the injected version - called Inactivated Polio Vaccine cos the virus is killed (recent news). Sabin is the Oral Polio Vaccine, where the virus has been attenuated. They each have advantages & disadvantages (some discssions).

As an Australian schoolchild in the 1960s, I lined up for my spoonful of pink polio vaccine, and later an anti-rubella injection. No memory of the infant ones. I think IPV is more common in the US cos it's "less risky" in some respects. At uni, I had to get a couple more immunisations & vaccinations because we were going to work with some dangerous stuff in the more advanced microbiology course, and also the full tetanus course to prepare for my biology thesis fieldwork. No rabies in Oz, so no need for that.

#429 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 04:49 AM:

Born in 1968, I was not vaccinated against smallpox, so that might help give a timeframe for when that stopped.

I got my flu shot from Kaiser about a week and a half ago; as always, no adverse reaction besides a little soreness in that shoulder for a couple of days.

Rather than <i> and <b>, people might want to use <em> and <strong> -- this is more friendly to those who like to render emphasized and strong text in other ways than italics or boldface.

#430 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 09:31 AM:

wood cutting boards:
I have 4. Yes, it is an extravagance.

One for meat, and meat only. Washed thoroughly 1-3 minutes after use.
One for fruits and vegetables.
One for onions and garlic, after I discovered the joys (!) of garlic flavored pear slices.
One for cutting bread, just so I don't have to wash it afterwards.

Glass dulls my knives too quickly, and I don't like the feel of plastic.

#431 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:38 AM:

Steve C. @ #425:

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

#432 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:50 AM:

My employers have just offered free flu jabs to all staff. I note, however, that the NHS direct website says you shouldn't bother with a vaccination if you're young, fit and healthy, and I'd imagine I'm a good enough fit to that (for their purposes, at least.)
I haven't had the flu in 10+ years, (stinking colds, yes.) Is there a downside to taking the shot, other than the possibility of feeling a bit feverish for a day or so?

#433 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 12:45 PM:

I work in a lab, and I've heard that 10% bleach is for animal tissue and suchlike, but 70% ethanol is also necessary, I believe for taking care of the other gram type of bacteria?

I suppose I should figure it out, as I have a wonderful plastic waterflask covered in leather, which I was using a couple years ago to keep myself hydrated when I was fighting some horrible disease that turned out to be strep. I don't trust the waterflask now, but I'm not sure how to sterilize it... Bleach is a pain in the ass, because it spots everything nearby in addition to cleaning the target.

As for bleaching your built-in wood cutting boards... Eh, really seems like more trouble than it's worth when you could just have movable cutting boards to put in the sink.

Curt Phillips: Welcome with your good information! "Cavicide" sounds like it's meant to make sure your OR is guinea-pig free. :) There was indeed all kinds of craziness when Jim suggested a few months ago that wearing your seat belt was good.

Re: polio vaccinations, I remember reading about the scars as a plot point in Diana Gabaldon's _Outlander_ and thinking "Huh, and that's gone now..."

#434 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 03:23 PM:

My vaccination (mid-1950s) is fairly visibly on my arm, and on my right one at that. All my friends' scars were on their left arms, and I never found out if the difference was because I got it in Germany instead of the US, or if they thought I was going to be left-handed (I wasn't after all) or what.

Jakob #433: the main downside to flu shots is the incubation material. If you've got any sort of allergy to eggs, it could get messy, according to the bumph that accompanied my flu shot this morning. (Nurse was *really* good; I couldn't even feel it.)

#435 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 04:06 PM:

Madeline F @ 434

I don't know whether you could get hold of it, but there's a newish veterinary disinfectant, F10, that's sufficiently tissue-friendly it's used in bird egg incubators (with developing bird eggs in them) and for nebulising birds with aspergillosis (i.e. for them to breath in, to kill the fungus in their respiratory tract) so I wouldn't expect it to damage leather.

#437 ::: Vaer ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 10:10 AM:

5) Dry your hands with a paper towel.
6) Use the expended paper towel to turn off the water.

What about if there are only those blow drier things and no paper towels?

#438 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 10:16 AM:

What about if there are only those blow drier things and no paper towels?

Hit blow dryer button with your elbow; if door pushes open, use shoulder or hip; if it pulls open, hand in sleeve or hem of shirt?

#439 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 11:44 AM:

I'm generally not sure about how to actually do the seperation of pre-washing touched things and post-washing touched things that Jim recommends. For one, washing my hands isn't the only thing I use the sink for. What about things that I fill with water at the sink? Given that I touch the handle to turn on the water, do these things count as conramined? If so, how can I use them then?

And what about all the things I touch between one time I wash my hands and the next time I wash my hands? Should I divide them into contamined and non-contamined? If so, along which lines? And how can I reliably keep them apart for long?

#440 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 12:30 PM:

Raphael #439:

Assuming more than one sink, do handwashing at one, other things at the other.

I'd probably assume that the handles are more likely to get contaminated than the spout, so as long as you didn't touch the spout of the non-hand-washing sink while in a pre-washed condition, you'd be OK. As to the handles themselves--a fresh tissue?

#441 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 02:19 PM:

Suzanne @#436: That's awesome.

#442 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2009, 04:15 PM:

Suzanne @#436: Cute... I can totally imagine my brother-in-law doing that!

#443 ::: hedgehog sees simspam on How To Wash Your Hands ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2011, 03:33 AM:

#443 sims to be spam.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.