Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I have a new disgusting personal habit.

I am prone to sinus infections, and have been since I was a kid. I've tried every over-the-counter medication available. The old reliable Vicks Vapo-rub still rules, but when the sinuses really shut down it feels like I've got concrete setting in my forehead and I get the urge to beat myself around the face with a ball peen hammer to break it up.

Well, I've found something that works better than anything else, a nose wash. I'd heard of it before, when reading about some of the weirder yoga practices, but never had the desire to try it. Anyone who has inhaled water through the nose in a swimming pool will understand why.

Anyhow, I went to the clinic last time I had an infection, and the doctor recommended this. A simple saline (baking soda optional) solution squirted up the nose. She was of Vietnamese origin, so perhaps the stereotype image helped me overcome my distaste for the idea. (Those Asians know all about exotic healing methods don't you know).

But I went one better. I went to The Earth (local health foods store) and got a Neti pot. Evidently this practice is old enough to have a name in Sanscrit, or whatever. It's rather like a tea pot with the end of the spout rounded so it can comfortably fit up your nostril.

Pour it in one nostril and out the other, then alternate. It's surprisingly easy to get used to and it's wonderfully entertaining for small children to watch.

I won't describe the immediate effects, but suffice to say it clears the nose and helps sinuses drain. I use bottled water and warm it to skin temperature in the microwave. I've read that there are more advanced practices involving oils and such.


There is a new Sonic drive-in being built in town. Just across the street there is another Sonic, which is right next to a 50's Drive-in. Less than three miles down the street is another Sonic - one of three on that side of town.

Drive-ins, and Sonic in particular, are a booming business. Did we all get hyper-busy all of a sudden or what? I mean, I like Sonic just fine but I didn't think a medium-sized town could support that many.

When we travel, we like to stay off the interstates whenever it's convenient and stop for meals in any place in a small town that isn't part of a chain. We've had some great meals and it's a great way to show my wife the real America.

She is not, by the way, a Euro-food snob. I courted my wife with American food: BLTs, chilli, pork and beans, real American hamburgers and my home made beef jerky. We used to hold hamburger parties for our friends to show them that the real American hamburger is more than MacDonalds, it's high art.

I used to get requests to bring my chilli for pot luck suppers, and recently I got a phone call from the Russian-Polish joint venture I used to work for, demanding my beef jerky process.

Did you ever hear of the four stages of intimacy classified according to food? Stage 1) sharing cold drinks, 2) sharing hot drinks, 3) cold food, 4) hot food. The theory is that each successive stage takes more effort to prepare, indicating increasing intimacy.

Speaking of food and intimacy, I remember one of the wittiest observations from Louis L'Amour, writer of first-rate potboiler Westerns. He advised that when you travel in a land where you do not speak the language, you must first learn to say two things. You must learn how to ask for food, and you must learn to tell a woman that you love her. And of these, the second is more important, because if you tell a woman you love her she will certainly feed you.

My students (mostly adult women) used to love that one.


  • At 11:39 AM, Blogger Jet Goodson said…

    Jerry Pournelle goes industrial on this and uses a nasal irrigator. It's like a water pick for the nose (apparently you can also buy a nasal attachment for some water picks). The makers claim that because it pulsates it works better than a neti pot, that it penetrates more.

  • At 2:38 PM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    That sounds a tad hard core for me - though if this damn sinus thing lingers, the idea of blasting them out with high pressure is going to start looking good. Like when a toothache starts to make the idea of shooting the tooth out with a .22 look reasonable.

    I am glad to hear that Jerry Pournelle is still experimenting with stuff. Has he written any stuff you'd recommend recently?

    I actually met the man at the university SF club years ago.


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