22 Jul 2009, 9:40pm
life nature


Nature Bites

There are certain phrases in the English language that, once uttered, spell doom for the speaker.  “What’s the worst that could happen?” is one example, along with, “Well at least it’s not raining.” Of course we can’t forget the horror movie classics like, “I’ll be right back,” or Darwinian helpers such as, “Hold my beer and watch this!”bites_3And then there’s, “Aw, I hate bug spray. I’d rather have a couple bites.”

mosquito_webI went camping about a month ago and came home with 78 bug bites.  Most were probably mosquito bites but there were also blood flies and at least one spider bite.I generally consider bug bites slightly worse than annoying, but this was downright agonizing. The first night, depending solely on calamine lotion, I didn’t sleep at all.  By the way. Calamine lotion is worthless.

So 4 am found me googling bug bite cures.  Twitter and Facebook also yielded some helpful suggestions, but stuck at home the next day, I tried the only “cure” available in the house. Scotch Tape. This sounded unlikely, but I was desperate, so I figured what the heck.

bites_4Most of the bites were on my legs, so I mummified my calves in transparent strips, covering every bite. It worked much better than I expected (in that I didn’t expect it to work at all) but certainly wasn’t 100%.

The main usefulness of the tape seemed to be reducing friction on the bites. Protected by the tape, my bites weren’t constantly irritated by my clothing, or even the air. Miraculously, I could also scratch my bites without bothering them, as the smooth surface of scotch tape let me rub without abrasion. The forum that suggested this cure claimed that the tape sucks out mosquito venom (total nonsense) but I’m pretty sure the stickiness has nothing to do with the relief. I think this is entirely caused by protecting the bites. I didn’t realize how much the tape was doing until I took it off. Then the itch-burn returned full force. While Scotch Tape isn’t perfect, it helps far more than you’d expect and I highly recommend it as a home remedy.

bites_1The down side to the tape was that I could feel it when I moved, which meant every step I took reminded me that my body was covered in mosquito bites. As you’re probably aware, the best thing you can do for bug bites is forget about them, and the tape made this almost impossible (not that it was even remotely possible WITHOUT the tape).

I asked Matt to ask the pharmacist what to use, and he brought home some AfterBite (ammonia) and Cortisone. The instructions were to put on the ammonia (stings like a scorpion), wait for it to dry, and then smear on the cortisone.

The effect of the ammonia was immediate, after the sting dissipated, the itch was GONE, though it didn’t last too long if you left it at that, and itching reawakened at the slightest breeze. The cortisone is supposedly a longer term effect, up to 24 hours before it has any impact. I can’t testify to that, since I have no idea what the itch would have been like if I hadn’t used it.

I do know that the chemicals were sanity saving. The pharmacist said nothing about covering the bites after, and I’m not sure whether health wise it’s a good idea, but I’d already witnessed how much scotch tape helped and I wanted to get rid of as much itch as possible. I wanted to SLEEP, thanks.

bites_5The scotch tape was not ideal. For one thing, taking it off left painful red marks, especially at the back of the knee, where it actually caused a friction rash, and seemed to make the bites worse. For another thing, I mean, it’s scotch tape. That can’t be healthy, right? Some people online were using duct tape, and scotch tape is probably better than that, but I thought surely there were better options.

I picked up some medical tape, and this was a huge mistake. Nowhere near as effective as scotch tape, the huge strips of medical tape dragged constantly at my skin, a painful reminder of my itching bites. Since the tape is designed to breathe, air could get in to bug my bites, but it was somehow still hotter, more sweat inducing than the scotch tape. The only plus I can see is that it would have made a good Halloween costume. Scotch tape, surprisingly, was a clear winner here.

bites_2Better though, if more ridiculous, were individual band-aids.

It took me more than an hour to cover all my bites with tiny round bandages, and it seemed like a complete waste of time, but even more than the tape, the band-aids worked beautifully. I can’t think of a better use for the band-aids, I’ve always wondered what they were for, so maybe this is it. Though time consuming, the band-aids, coupled with the ammonia and ointment, were the best by far at relieving the itch.

bandaid_webThey’re less conspicuous than the medical tape (though not as invisible as scotch tape) relieved 95% of the itch and burn (enough that I could forget it), and most importantly, didn’t pull at my skin at all, or give any reminder that they were there.

I also tried to defend my band-aid use by claiming that they must be attractive. After all, Anime characters are often covered in band-aids and everyone knows Anime characters are hot. Right? Matt has informed me however that, while I am always hot in his eyes, being covered in band-aids is not at all sexy, and should be avoided whenever possible. Especially if they’re covering itchy bug bites.

Ah well. Half my friends on the camping trip ended up with poison ivy, so I guess it could have been worse. I’m pretty sure calamine lotion doesn’t do much for that either.

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  • 15 Jul 2009, 12:42pm
    drawings technology


    Mech Tree

    I know, it’s been weeks since I’ve posted, and now I’m just giving you another drawing, but this is all I’ve had time for lately!

    The most recent Sugar Frosted Goodness was “sketch” and I was excited because I figured even when I’m busy I can find time to do a sketch. I was mostly wrong, the category was last week’s, but I figured I might as well finish it anyway.mech_tree_web_small

    *I’ve been interested lately in steamer-punk art and sculpture. I realize I’m coming a bit late to the trend, but I’m completely intruiged by the combination of industrial elements and victorian ornament. I’ve been wanting to do some kind of drawing in the style, but the elements of steamer-punk; archetectural and mechanical, are exactly the kinds of things I don’t have experience drawing. metallobsterwebI’m far more comfortable drawing people and organic objects, so I figured instead of leaping straight in, I’d take a lesson from Mattias and steampunk up something I was more comfortable with. (If you haven’t seen Mattias’s Baroque Star Wars I highly recommend it, particularly the Death Star.) I’ve done this before on a small scale with a metal lobster (not to be mistaken for a rock lobster), but a tree was a much larger undertaking.

    mech_tree_leavesIt took for freaking ever, possibly nullifying the time benefit of doing a “sketch.” Most tedious were the “leaves” which were inspired by Solio portable chargers, which are sort of flower or leaf shaped, and being solar chargers, do in fact serve the same purpose as leaves.

    For some reason I wanted the roots to include wheels, and they are therefor obviously not rooted at all. Matt insists that the wheels make it a car, and he’s probably right, but I don’t see why it can’t be a tree as well. Now that I’ve got it on the computer I can see that I’ve left a few areas unfinished (trailing wire, needs extra wheels, etc.) so maybe I’ll post the final version once I finish.

    The visual charm of steamer-punk for me is that it has aspects of both design and art. Steamer-punk drawings remind me of the da Vinci sketches of crazy flying bicycles.  At some point I’d like to start making show type art (as opposed to illustrative art) which exploits that design visual. It probably won’t be steamer-punk, but playing with that style is a nice way to stretch my skills, and also much more satisfying than other kinds of practice, like say, still lifes. Bleagh.

    *Click on main image for larger version.

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