Recently in Body Stuff Category

How the Body Knows


I love this short article from the NY Times about "embodied cognition," or the fact that knowledge is not something located, experienced and processed only in our minds, but in our entire beings. Very cool.

Bad Blood

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gwa sya.jpgIn case you've never tried it before, let me assure you that It's really hard to take a picture of your back. I had to use a mirror to make sure that the camera was actually aimed at me and not at the wall behind me.

Yes, that splotchy red expanse of skin is my right shoulder and back, and no, I was not injured in some horrible accident. Or rather, I WAS injured in some horrible accident, once upon a time, and the gross bruising is evidence of that. It's just that the injury is old, and the bruising is recent. Also self-inflected.

See, I was employing a technique called gua sha (read all about it in a Wikipedia entry or at a website called Gua Sha), which I LOVE both because A) it works and B) I can do it myself--at least on some parts of me.

I think I have suffered irreparable psychological harm after looking at these photos of very strange tattoos: someone actually had Bald Britney permanently etched on their body. And the one of Patrick Swazye as the SNL Chippendales dancer/centaur will haunt me forever. In other words, you MUST check these out.

This is one of those things that just.... I must be missing something. Here are two videos about the delights of shaving one's pubic hair. I can understand being pleased with the final product, but the process doesn't seem like it's THAT much fun. Just watch:

And don't miss this French approach to the same topic:

If you want further commentary, here's the analysis from Broadsheet.

Someone Who Really Should Be Named Joy


I know I'm being the laziest blogger in the world lately, but hey, I'm busy. And at least I'm interrupting my laziness from time to time to bring you headlines and videos some of you might not have seen already. Like this. Which is awesome, and made me cry, with the discussion of looking at pictures of ourselves taken we were 13 years old:

I have an absolute horror of cold feet, perhaps, because as my acupuncturist constantly reminds me, I am particularly prone to them. "Your feet are so cold!" she'll say, feeling my toes before sticking a few needles in them. "You must remember to keep them warm."

It's counsel I don't need. When I was young I always wore socks or footsies in all but the warmest months (which admittedly constitutes about half the year in Arizona). Living in Taiwan gave me an aversion to walking around the house without some sort of substantial slipper or flip-flop on--the second you walk into someone's house, including your own, you're expected to remove your street shoes and don "two syes," or "escape shoes"--so it's rare that I go unshod, even inside. If it's under about 85F, I have slippers on; if it's under 75F, I have on slippers and a pair of socks; if it's under 50F, I have on slippers and TWO pair of socks.

This makes it hard to paint my toenails, though I really enjoy a nice pedicure. Because not only do I have to take my socks off to paint my toenails, I have to leave the socks off long enough for the polish to dry. And if you apply multiple coats--and I often do, because that one-coat stuff doesn't usually work--that can take a long time.

At one point this past winter I tried cutting the toes off a pair of socks that already had holes in them, so that only my toes were exposed for painting; everything else could stay warm. It worked OK-ish, in that my ankles felt fine, but my toes got VERY cold.

So it's a big deal when it's finally warm enough for long enough that I can paint my toes in relative comfort. And that happened over this weekend, though after two nice days, it got crappy again. It was a pleasure to wake up this chilly, dark damp morning and see the shock of bright color on my very neat, nice toes, particularly since I have lovely (albeit large) feet, even if I do say so myself. It's one reason I like pretty shoes so much: they flatter one of the nicest parts of my body.

I would include a photo of what my toes look like, but I've already done it here.

Stupidest Flesh Wound Ever


Yesterday I was fiddling with something in a cabinet under the counter and I stood up a little too quickly and a little too close to the counter top and scraped the skin off the bridge of my nose. It bled--copiously, profusely, excessively. I have to wear a band-aid across my nose, and it looks really dumb. It also feels unpleasant--it's much worse to have a sticky piece of plastic on your face than on, say, your finger or elbow.

And when, after trying to stop the bleeding, I went back to the kitchen and finished what I'd been doing, I found the bit of skin still clinging to the counter top.

In other words, yuckiness abounds.

Not Unpleasant, But Still Not Attractive

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It turns out that certain psychological states are simply unavailable to me when I positively REEK of Bengay, the first being any sort of inclination to engage in social interaction, even interaction via an unscented forum like the web. Another is the belief that I can write anything worth reading. No, when my skin and my clothes smell so strongly of Bengay that my cat won’t come near me, all I really want to do is lie down.

The smell of Bengay is weird, right? Most people will agree with me on that. And I might be the only one who feels this way, but I don’t find the smell unpleasant--I don’t think it out and out stinks--but I also don’t find it attractive. And it’s not just because I know it’s medicine often marketed to old people; it’s because it’s such a strong smell, from a substance that really freakin' HURTS if you get it near any mucus membranes, and because it makes you want to lie down. Seriously: I put it on, and I want to lie down. I suspect there’s some real physiological process going on there; something about how it increases blood flow, and makes your skin feel sensations ranging from mild tingling to out-and-out burning, and makes your muscles soften a little, and assaults your nostrils and tear ducts. I don’t know. I tried to find out what the side-effects of Bengay are, if overwhelming albeit short-term fatigue is one of them, but an entire series of google searches only turned up this bizarre story about a teen athlete who died from a Bengay overdose.

Look, Ma, No Hands?


Like Gifted Typist and First-Person Narrator, I've got something nasty going on in my neck and shoulders. I injured something about a month ago during a week of travel--all that hefting heavy luggage onto the overhead racks or compartments in trains and planes--afterwards it hurt to lift my right arm above the level of my shoulder. But it got better after a few days, at least until this weekend, when I did something worse. I thought maybe yoga or a little weight-lifting would help the muscles heal, and I didn't think I overdid things, but apparently I was wrong....

Anyway, commenters suggested that Gifted Typist look into voice recognition software. And I thought, maybe I should look into that myself.... Dragon Naturally Speaking Standard seems like it would fit my needs, such as they are.... I mean, do I really need software that transcribes what I say? Has anyone used this? I type pretty fast, and I like typing, and I also like the way typing makes me reflect on what I write.... I'm not sure transcribing everything I say would make my writing better; it just would mean I could do it without hands.

Or maybe it would completely change my life, and I just can't imagine how.

Advice, anyone?

Why I Need Glasses, At Least Tonight


A million years ago--OK, 16 or so months ago--I posted a picture of the reading glasses I finally had to get, because right on schedule, I began developing mild presbyopia in my early 40s. I like my glasses OK and wear them when I remember to put them on, which isn't that often. I keep them by my bed, so about the only time I remember to wear them is when I read before I (try to) go to sleep.

But tonight I tried to read something and there was just no freakin' way I could do it without glasses. Here's a photo of what I was trying to read:


My fingers mark the particular character I was looking for. Just for the sake of scale, here's another photo, including not only the book but my cat, so you can see how tiny the text actually is:


Looking up a character in an Chinese-English dictionary was always a challenge, particularly with older dictionaries in Taiwan, because to use them you had to know one of three things: 1) what the character's radical is (sometimes hard to determine even if you're thoroughly literate, and I never was--I was merely fluent), or 2) how to "spell" it with bo-po-mo-fo, a system I never mastered, or 3) how it is romanized in the wacky Wade-Giles system of romanization (which I didn't learn--at the MTC, we only learned Yale, which, despite being the easiest system for actually learning to pronounce Mandarin, is not the most popular system).

It was always an adventure to find a character even when I could read the tiny print of the dictionary, but now, well, it's quite the challenge. I finally found the character I needed, using a bo-po-mo-fo chart to help me sound out the phonetics of the character. It's this, ku, meaning suffering, bitterness, pain, a word I know well from my mission, because we were always being admonished to be "sying ku," to "toil bitterly."

Just thought I'd share.


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