The Aztecs

So I’ve been doing some research on poison oak, as my forehead is now red, swollen, and bumpy.

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac, all provoke a reaction by producing the same oil, urushiol. This is some potent shit, folks. Details:

  • Only 1 nanogram (billionth of a gram) needed to cause rash
  • 1/4 ounce of urushiol is all that is needed to cause a rash in every person on earth
  • 500 people could itch from the amount covering the head of a pin
  • Specimens of urushiol several centuries old have found to cause dermatitis in sensitive people.
  • 1 to 5 years is normal for urushiol oil to stay active on any surface including dead plants

The good news is that the oil is the only contagious thing; once you’ve taken a shower and soaped yourself down, you won’t contaminate anyone else. The rashes and blisters that follow are harmless.

The bad news is that there’s no proven way to make the rash go away.; you just have to wait it out for the 2-3 weeks it normally takes to subside. There are creams that will stop the itching, but you’ll still look like a freak. Doctors will often prescribe prednisone or some other kind of steroid. The problem with the steroids is that they often don’t work, and also cause some wacky side effects: insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations, hallucinations, etc. Great.

So I’ve just got to tough it out.

Oh yeah I forgot to mention that we saw Chris Rock live at the Oakland Paramount right after New Year’s. He was awesome, his set was a good 90 minutes and funnier than I had anticipated. My sisters, skeptics at first, were totally sold by the end.

Some cool links:

  • This dude built his own Segway-esque scooter. A very reader-friendly site, and quite impressive.
  • A nice video of some Sony robots dancing. Their movements are surprisingly lifelike. It must have been crazy to program. I remember when Wing used our sketch renderer, to make a short animated demo (which you should also check out if you have the time :) took us forever. And the movements weren’t even realistic, and there were far fewer degrees of freedom. Another difficulty with the Sony robots is that they actually have to live in 3D, on two legs. Balancing and not falling over is hard.

I have to admit that I was a little inspired by my last LJ entry. Jenny and I started playing Civilization 2 today. It’s one of the most brilliant games ever. I love it!

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