How to Transform Your Household Chemicals into Super Assassin Poisons

Ok, when I was a kid, a friend and I would grab whatever household liquids we could find (usually from under the sink) and mix them together. We thought we were chemists. Yet the concoctions we brewed up smelled horrid. It’s dumb luck we didn’t create chlorine gas and kill ourselves. (We usually mixed outside.)

If you have an inkling to delve into chemistry, don’t start with the stuff in your sink, or garage, or plain anything  that’s not edible. You’re more likely to make yourself sick. That said, here are five nasty household poisons.

Batteries
Most don’t think twice about the old coppertops, but these are filled with a chemical known as sodium hydroxide, better known as lye. What’s that, you say? Well, if you’ve ever seen Fight Club, you’ll know that its an extremely corrosive alkali used to create soap (traces remain to kill the bacteria in on your hands when you wash). So, a word to the wise, don’t crack open an energizer to see what’s inside.

Edward Norton receiving his lye burn in Fight Club

Dishwasher Soap and Fabric Softener
Both of these contain cationic detergents. This stuff, when swallowed, will cause vomiting, corrosive damage to the esophagus, convulsions, comas and possible death. After ten minutes, the body’s cells begin to absorb this chemical, which interferes with normal cell functions.

Window Cleaner
We all know not to clean our contact lenses with Windex, right? (Please say you said yes to that one.) But one of the ingredients in most window cleaners is isopropanol (a relative to ethyl alcohol).  Basically, this stuff evaporates quickly (for that streak free shine). However, it’s also poisonous if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. It depresses the nervous system leading to a coma. It’s like getting massively drunk, only this stuff will kill you.

Turpentine
This chemical is awesome for dissolving paint and irritating your skin. In fact, this stuff tastes so bad, few people would ever swallow it. However, breathing the fumes can cause dizziness, accelerated heartbeat and breathing, convulsions, and unconsciousness. Eventually, the chemical could shutdown your kidneys.

Perfumes
They smell nice, but often they contain methanol (another cousin to ethyl alcohol). This chemical is also found in paint thinners and solvents. When ingested, the body transforms methanol into formaldehyde (you know, the stuff they use to preserve dead bodies). So drinking it will actually pickle you. Literally. This stuff also causes permanent blindness along with a long list of symptoms ending in death.

The next time you yearn to play household chemist, try baking instead. At least then, when you mess up, you can eat the results.

Tim Kane

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Selfish Is As Selfish Does

I spent the better part of my life a doormat. Always apologizing. Stepping into the shadows so others could reap the limelight. I can’t say I regret all of that. It did teach me some tact and politeness. Yet you can’t exist as an also-ran. At some point you need to stand up and be noticed.

Scene from Fight Club, where Edward Norton beats himself up to blackmail his boss.

Basically, I’m advocating a bit of selfishness. Do something that’s just you once in a while. One favorite of mine is to stop (usually at Starbucks) and grab a snack. I’m partial to anything with a crumble top (Mr. Blueberry muffin, I’m looking at you). Don’t think about the calories or where or when you need to be someplace. Just chill. Enjoy.

If you’re surrounded by dominating personalities, then separate yourself from them. Learn what you want. And the next time they suggest something you don’t like, don’t give in. Step up. Tell them what you want. Grab some control. Heck, very few people are going to give it to you.

Hey, I’m not going to go all self-help or motivational speaker on you. Basically make the choice. It sucks to stand up to people. Confrontation is uncomfortable. That’s why the jerks of the world get what they want. They don’t mind confrontation. In fact they thrive on it. For you and me, it takes practice. Like learning a new language. Start small and build up. Just saying what’s on your mind is great start.

Tim Kane

Stray Dogs Take Over the Subway

On of the creepiest movies I’ve seen is Mimic. Here, mutated cockroaches transform into people hunting predators in the New York subway. Their adaptations to hunt humans is amazing. Down to mimicking our speech and silhouette.

Now it looks like this sort of adaptation could be happening for real (albeit on a much less deadly level). It appears that packs of wild dogs have taken over the subway system of Moscow. The alphas are chosen not by superior might, but by cleverness. These canines can sense which humans will dole out food. A good tactic considering some Muscovites take to stabbing the dogs.

These dogs also travel the subway, expanding they’re begging territory. They recognize familiar scents of certain stops, as well as the names the conductor uses.

Who knows, maybe these dogs will develop pick pocketing abilities. Or will they start taking down weak or young Muscovites? The stray dog population has been escalating since the mid 1800s. That’s plenty of time to breed in some new behaviors.

Tim Kane

Four Types of Produce That Could Kill You

We’ve all walked into to the grocery store to pick up some produce. Who knew that it could kill you. Apparently many common fruits and vegetables are deadly. Check out this guide to the more nefarious elements of the vegetable kingdom.

  1. Potatoes
    Yes, Irish Gold. The harbinger of French Fries and mashed potatoes is actually a member of the nightshade family. (Tomatoes are part of that family too, just not poisonous). The spud contains a toxin called solanine, a plant defense. It causes nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, burning of the throat, headache and dizziness. In rare cases, this poison can bring on a coma or even death. I know what you’re thinking. “I’ve eaten plenty of potatoes, and haven’t gotten sick yet.” True, but how many raw potatoes have you eaten? It seems that cooking the spud kills most of the solanine. I wonder how many chefs experimented with raw potatoes before figuring that one out?
  2. Corn
    This hardy side dish turns out to be deadly when it turns into a main course. When corn becomes most of a person’s meal (as it did with early settlers), then something akin to scurvy develops. You see, the niacin in corn is very hard to absorb by the body. Traditional recipes added lime to aid the absorption of niacin. What’s the big deal, you say. Well, without enough niacin, people develop pale skin that blisters when exposed to sunlight. Folk have dementia that keeps them up all night. Digestive problems keep them from eating normally. Pretty much all the symptoms of vampirism. That’s what people in Europe thought after importing corn.
  3. Cashew
    Ever wonder why every other nut can be sold with its shell except the cashew? This nut is in the same family as poison ivy. The shells have the same irritating oil, urushiol. The nut is safe to eat. But the shell will create a rash in various parts of the body (imagine chewing on poison ivy). The worst part, even if the outside of the shell touches the nut, it could transfer the poison. Purveyors of this nut steam the little buggers open, thus all cashews are partially cooked (and a bit more pricey).
  4. Red Kidney Beans
    Eating only a few of these beans raw will bring on severe nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. The poison is called phytohaemagglutinin (this stuff is in most beans, but especially high in the red kidney variety). Just like potatoes, these beans are completely healthy when properly cooked.

If there’s a lesson here, it’s cook your food well, and have some variety in your diet. Otherwise, you could end up sick or dead.

Tim Kane

Cut Out The Negative

People are out there to make your life miserable. Achieve something? They’ll knock you down. Win? They’ll discount it. Speak up? They’ll ignore you. There are a myriad of reasons. Most stem to jealously. Other folks don’t want to see you doing better than them. You have the ambition they lack.

Forget the reasons. How can you deal with their negativity? Cut them out. That’s right, be viscous. Why would you want friends who constantly bring you down or belittle you? Those aren’t real friends. And cut means cut. Don’t see them sometimes or take a trial break. Just stop seeing them.

Now, sometimes that’s just not possible. Maybe these harbingers of doom are your flesh and blood. You know, family. Well, that doesn’t mean you need to see them every waking minute. Reserve yourself for holidays and birthdays. If you live with them, be cordial, but that’s all. No need to open up to someone who’s ready with sledgehammer.

Learn how to cut people out from the master: Christopher Walken. This guy is pictured in the dictionary next to the word “strange.” I read an interview with him several years ago. Some person annoyed Walken so much that he decided to cut the fella out of his life. I mean he didn’t even talk to the man. Years went by. Nothing. Then finally, the guy calls up Walken and asks: “Why don’t we talk anymore.” Walken tells the interviewer, “And that’s my revenge.”

Christopher Walken stars as Feng in Balls of Fury.

A twisted tale, for sure, but it has a point. (Aside from revenge against annoying people.) When you cut out the negative person, you also remove the negativity. Sure, jinxy things still happen to you, but that’s blind luck. The soul sucking negativity is gone.

Tim Kane

It’s Midsummer: Time for Human Sacrifice

One of my most favorite flicks to watch this time of year is The Wicker Man. Not the god-awful remake with Nicolas Cage, but the 1973 original with Christopher Lee. For those of you not familiar with that name, he’s probably better known these days as Count Dooku from the Star Wars prequels or Saruman from The Lord of the Rings. For me, I shall always remember him as Dracula from the series of Hammer monster films in the 60s and 70s.

The Wicker Man shows the conflict of traditional Christianity, in the form of Sergeant Neil Howie, and paganism, in the form of Summerisle. It turns out the the crops last year weren’t so splendid. Therefore, the island needs a human sacrifice. A virgin to be precise. They lure the sergeant there on the pretense of a missing girl. Though he’s the one they’re after. The film culminates with the poor fella being locked in a ginormous wicker man and being set ablaze.

The comedy of the film lies in this totally proper sergeant butting heads with some free loving hippie pagans. There’s a scene where naked girls are leaping over a fire in order to get pregnant. Sergeant Howie objects to their nudity. To which Lord Summerisle (played by Christopher Lee) responds: “Naturally! It’s much too dangerous to jump through fire with their clothes on!”

A year or so ago, I stumbled upon a version of this wonderful film as played by the Muppets. Below is a YouTube preview. But the real fun lies in the web-comic. It completely embodies the spirit of the film.

Tim Kane

Scheduled Stress

I am a very organized person. I thrive on efficiency. In fact, this sometimes leads to inefficient behavior. When I’m doing some activity (say washing dishes) and think of a better (more efficient) way to do the task, I’ll backtrack and start over. That’s just the way I roll.

My subconscious seems to work in a similar, highly organized way. The past two weeks have been a blur of activities. As a school teacher, I have final report cards and a sixth-grade promotion to plan and execute. The day after promotion (literally), I drove three hours up to Los Angeles for a conference on the new common core teaching standards. Then back at home, I picked up my new car from the dealer. Finally I shopped and decorated for my daughter’s fifth birthday party. All fun exciting activities, but quite draining.

The stress takes a toll on my body, yet it won’t show until the deadlines are completed. It’s as if my mind has a mental checklist. Until everything is ticked off, it will allow no sickness. Now that all my tasks are done and I’m officially on vacation, I get sick. My body collapses under the strain of so much to do in such a short time.

I don’t know if anyone else has this sort of condition. It might just be be. At least I can let my body relax. More deadlines are coming. Writerly ones. The kind I like.

Tim Kane