February 20th, 2009

krazy koati

I'm tired of walking up and down the street all by myself

There's no particular reason you should have to replace your whole foot just because you've got a splinter in it. You might need to, and new model feet might make it worthwhile, but just splinter avoidance isn't enough reason. You can get splinters almost anywhere, particularly in the index finger or Splinter Lake, but feet have a special attractive power. There's no warding splinters off feet just by wearing socks or shoes or more. Human feet too important a part of splinter pollination, and vice-versa. Splinters can make it through over forty layers of foot coverings, most memorably in 1972 when Apollo 16 astronaut John Young's last words on the lunar surface included, ``Ow ow owie ow ow ow my foot!'' These final words were appreciated as Charlie Duke had thought it was his foot instead. Neither felt any comfort until during an Apollo 17 spacewalk Command Module pilot Ron Evans stepped on a thumbtack.

Several features of the foot make it attractive to splinters. Chief among these is the epidermis, the leading organ of the important family of body parts with names sounding like noises a cartoon engine might make. You can easily imagine a cute wheezing little locomotive going ``EP-ih-DERM-is, EP-ih-DERM-is'' in-between the horn whistling; I'm too busy. Other parts in this family include the duodenum, the octothorpe, the basal ganglia, and the peduncle. Without such parts medical students could not complete anatomy classes with nearly as many study sessions collapsing into giggle fits. The epidermis is also part of the Greater Skin Metropolitan Area, a census district which includes sweat glands, the subdermis, nerve cells, the mesodermis, hair follicles, the Carboniferous era, the metal coils that make the reception of marginal stations change when you hold your hand near the radio's antenna, the superdermis, and the bubble wrap layer. There are also parts of the skin which are sebaceous and thus unfit for public discussion.

The splinter detects the interactions between the epidermis and other skin parts, which releases a trace set of chemicals known collectively under a false name for simplicity. It then flutters, even faster than the person can run, toward the foot and examines subtle variations in the electro-footeo-magnetic field. From this information it then embeds itself anywhere on the foot where it can cause exquisite agony on every step. In this way the person who has feet is reminded that progress is a slippery thing and we cannot count on this day being better than the one before.

When your foot is attacked by a splinter there isn't much to do except stay in bed until the splinter metamorphosises into a footstool, or a coffee table, or a tea table for those who don't like coffee. While in bed you can wonder if woodchucks get splinters in their paws, which is an unanswerable question as long as woodchucks have such atrocious paw-writing and are late in answering letters. If you can't stay in bed for splinters probably you have not made optimal life choices, so maybe you could use the excuse of a heavy snowfall instead. For that you need there to be some snow, so be sure your bed is near a window to look. You might want to carry a small window around with you.

Many believe splinters can be removed by tweezers. This belief will go forever unconfirmed because the tweezers have gone missing since the last time they were needed to remove a splinter, when a new pair was bought so that you'd know where they were next time. Somewhere in your home is a gathering army of tweezers, each used once to break off just enough of the splinter that the rest couldn't be removed, all lurking and talking about you, sinisterly. Go ahead and try not thinking about it. Warm water is supposed to do something to the skin to make it easier to get the splinter out, unless that should be cold water. I use warm water because as long as it's not going to work I may as well be comfortable.

Maybe replacing the whole foot is the practical way to go.

Trivia: Walter Schirra was the capcom at Point Arguello, California, counting John Glenn down to retrofire on the final orbit of Friendship 7. Source: Deke!, Donald K Slyton, Michael Cassutt.

Currently Reading: The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring In Wartime Washington, Jennet Conant.