or, Random Bits of Stuff I've Found Lying Around
Every once in awhile I run across, trip over or otherwise discover something from my past that I've forgotten I had, and now for some bizarre reason feel compelled to share with the rest of the world. In no particular order:
Cutter Snake Bite Kit
Anyone who was a Boy Scout in the 1960s and 70s will remember this little item, a largish rubbery olive green capsule-looking thing that was supposed to save your life if you got bitten by a rattlesnake. What all of us really wanted to do was used it to play the hero doctor on some other poor schlub, because we weren't dumb enough to get bitten by a snake in the first place.
The "Cutter Hi-Lo Suction Snake Bite Kit" was carried by thousands of Boy Scouts since it was designated an "official" piece of gear, and by thousands of other campers and hikers, I'm sure, but as far as I have been able to determine, it has never saved a single life. As a Boy Scout it was more a part of the "Be Prepared" mantra we faithfully memorized, and I just happened to live in the only state in the US that has all four venomous snakes resident in North America native to it.
The kit itself is fairly ingenious, basic and durable (versions of it have been around since at least World War II). In the one I have, there are two large (about thumb-sized) suction cups, which will deliver "high" or "low" suction depending on how you squeeze them; a smaller suction cup for fingers (or smaller snakes, I suppose); a small scalpel blade with a plastic sheath over it; a woven cord and metal loop constriction band; a tube of liquid antiseptic; and two pages of exhaustive instructions in very small print.
The whole thing is 2 1/2-inches long, weighs just 1 ounce, and fits together with the large suction cups acting as the casing for everything else. Cutter's reasoning for making it so compact was that surely you would always carry something that small and light with you every time you went into the wilderness. I think I did. Surely I did ... but that was a longggggg time ago.
Modern times have caught up with this cut and suction idea, though. Now the general consensus is to get to the hospital and get an anti-venom shot as quickly as possible. Cutting X-shaped incisions over the bites (DON'T BE SLASH HAPPY!! the instructions admonish) and doing all the other stuff Cutter says to are a waste of time. At least according to the internet.
Still, it's fun to read through these detailed "emergency procedures" and wonder if you would have the wherewithall to do all of these steps in the order given, which is why I included them (these are dated 1970).
It's kind of telling that the smallest print is reserved for the statement, "Mortality in the U.S. from snakebite is probably less than 2%" ... which calls into question the reason for carrying this kit in the first place ... but as I said, I lived where you might encounter rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins or coral snakes (the only one I never saw).
A downside to having liquid antiseptic is that, no matter how well the vial's sealed, it will leak. It's just a question of when. Which can make quite the mess both inside and outside the kit. And don't ask me how I know that.
One interesting thing - Cutter promised to send you a new kit if you were bitten, then successfully treated with theirs, if you gave them your doctor's contact information so they could get all the details. I'm sure it was strictly to see if there were ways to improve the kits, rather than to use it for marketing purposes *cough*.
Although Cutter Laboratories as long since been bought out by another company, Coghlan's still makes something that looks a lot like the Cutter snake bite kit, for those of you so inclined. A fun trip down memory lane!
Smoke A Cigarette/Start A Fire/Get A High School Diploma!
You've all probably heard that old joke and/or insult, "Where'd you get your diploma, off a matchbook?"
It turns out, you really could. Well, at least you could get started with the matchbook.
I found this matchbook years ago, ironically when I was working in higher education. Kind of put what we thought we were doing into perspective. I tried to use it as a motivational tool, but don't think it had much impact. Except for the students who wanted to use the matches to light up their cigarettes.
The American School organization still exists, and has now branched out into Advanced Placement high school classes and college prepatory classes. A pretty amazing longevity.