Day 549: Clearing Up The Bullcrap About You

originally published July 2, 2013

Ah, the morning after a long weekend. For Canadians, this means today – Americans get another week, and because the calendar is kind to them this year, an extra day of celebration. But make no mistake – that cold, cruel morning will come a-knocking, its disproportionate shadow darkening your mood, its foul stench plugging your nostrils with the nefarious odor of yet another work-week.

But you’ll survive; you always do. Because you know yourself, you know how to bounce back and reacquire your step’s mighty spring and your heart’s most happy beat.

Or do you? How many misconceptions about humans do you subscribe to? Are you truly in tune with your inner workings, or has the false cloak of ‘common knowledge’ draped itself over your self-perception, distorting your perception?

Knowing these things won’t make your work-week any more palatable. But at least you can bombard those around you with trivia, thus ensuring their day is more annoying than yours.

I remember learning the map to the taste buds in elementary school. The logic and symmetry seemed flawless – except the whole thing was based on a lousy translation of a 1901 German thesis. 1901. That means for more than eight decades, at least until the time I was in school, no one had run a little verification on this map and discovered that it was complete hooey. One doesn’t only taste bitter at the back of the tongue; bitter is bitter, no matter where it lands. Different folks have higher sensitivities of certain tastes in certain parts of their tongue, but by and large a taste bud is a taste bud.

And enough with this “four tastes” crap. Humans are equipped to discern five, not four tastes. Sweet, sour, salty and bitter are the ones I was taught, but the savory – also known as ‘umami’ flavor may be the most important of all. This is the flavor of cheese, the flavor of ripe tomatoes, and – beneath its salty veneer – the unmistakable taste of bacon. Something to think about as your Aquafresh brushes frantically against your tongue in an effort to wipe away the residue from the foolish schnapps shots you did last weekend.

Uh-oh, it looks like you scraped your knee falling out of that rickshaw you drunkenly stole from that shed near the park. You might want to put something on that, especially since you spent the night sleeping in someone’s vegetable garden. But hold off on the hydrogen peroxide. Every time your mother put that stuff on your wounds, she was harming you, not hurting you. Take that to your shrink and smoke it.

Hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning tile grout or fuelling that explosive device you’ve been meaning to build (that’s okay – I won’t tell!), but there is no evidence that it acts as an antiseptic. In fact, it’s believed that hydrogen peroxide will increase healing time, and because it can destroy newly formed skin cells, it can guarantee you’ll have a bad-ass scar to remind yourself not to pound so much Jagermeister.

You know those cramps your mother told you that you’d get if you went swimming right after eating? Well, she was wrong about that too. There is no correlation whatsoever between eating and swimming cramps, nor is there any relation between eating and drowning. There are studies that show alcohol consumption to be linked to an increased likelihood of drowning, but there’s a study to link alcohol to every kind of death. That’s why, to be safe, the only thing you should do while consuming alcohol is consume more alcohol.

And speaking of drowning, people don’t thrash around in the water before going belly-up. The reality is that a drowning person’s body will see its Instinctive Drowning Response kick in. It’s a calm behavior, devoid of panic and distress. Arms will move laterally and the head will tilt back in an automatic effort to get the mouth to the surface, but to the average on-looker, it won’t seem as though there’s anything to worry about.

Freaked out yet? Let’s look at something a little less lethal.

If you woke up this post-long-weekend morning a few blocks from your home, face-down in some stranger’s garden, you may not have stumbled there in a drunken stupor. Perhaps you were sleepwalking, and your friends chose not to awaken you, since we all know waking a sleepwalker will startle them and lead to an unavoidable fiery explosion.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Waking up a sleepwalker is probably the best thing you can do for them. Yes, they’ll be disoriented and confused, and yes, they might stumble a bit or even fall over. But that’s okay. In fact, if you’re lucky it might even be entertaining for you. But they won’t suffer from a heart attack at the shock of the sudden jolt awake. In fact, they are much more likely to trip over something, wander into traffic or flop over a balcony railing if you don’t wake them up.

Alright, this misconception probably didn’t come up over the long weekend, particularly if you’re here in North America. But if your celebration took you to South Korea, and you happened to end your evening in a room containing an electric fan, then those around you may believe you’re lucky to be alive.

In South Korea, it is considered extremely dangerous to fall asleep in a room with a running fan. This is touted by numerous respected medical professionals as well as by the Korean government. The fan could cause suffocation, hypothermia, or even fire from overheating. Okay, if the fan shorts out, I can see a fire. But fans don’t cool the air – in fact, while your sweat may be dried out by the rush of recirculated air on your flesh, a room containing an electric fan is actually warmed slightly by the heat of the fan’s motor. Hypothermia ain’t happening.

As for suffocation, unless the fan blows a pillow off a shelf onto your face, I think you’ll probably be safe.

With all this in mind, hopefully you’ll look in the mirror and be able to cope with guiding your wretched self through yet another week. Let’s face it – you have no choice, and besides, there’s another weekend just a few days away. You’ll make it.

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