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Ugh. I’ve come down with a real snot-fountain of a headcold. I guess I’ll do what anyone would do in my position — browse the internet for porn.

By which, of course, I mean Pinterest boards of banjos, banjos, banjos, banjo pegheads, banjo art and banjo tomfoolery.

I’ve just discovered I don’t have a ‘banjo’ tag. How odd.

The one in the pic is a Bob Flesher banjo. Bob’s a modern maker of unbelievable skill — especially, IMO, his inlays (even the best modern banjos, the inlay usually gives them away as lesser instruments). All of his work is hand work; none of this computerized laser stuff. He was an airline pilot who financed his flying lessons making fancy banjos. Go figure.

Gromulin informed me that Steven DenBeste has died. I read him, back in the day. I bet you did too. I didn’t realize he’d been off the blogosphere as long as he had. Makes me feel internet old. RIP.


Comment from bikeboy
Time: October 25, 2016, 10:53 pm

As an impressionable youth, I was somewhat turned off banjo… my buddies and I frequented a pizza parlor that had a banjo “strummer” on Friday nights. I really did NOT like the sound of banjo-strummin’.

As an adult, I’ve turned it around. Well-executed bluegrass music (which almost REQUIRES a banjo!) touches my heart. Of course, I still much prefer banjo pickin’ over banjo strummin’.

I’m somewhat of a ukulele man myself. I find it hard to pass up a uke bargain, even if I have to give an old one away to make room for a new one. Aloha!

On another topic – GET WELL QUICK, STOATY! I’ve not felt ideal myself lately, but I’m convinced it’s mostly subconscious stress over who’s gonna be the next “Leader of the Free World.” The prospects aren’t encouraging. But at least we’ve got stringed instruments – and our guns and religion!

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: October 26, 2016, 11:35 am

I especially liked the banjo with the octopus drawn on the head and the Minglewood Blues cartoon on YouTube
But they were all so beautiful.
P.S. Have I nagged you about using a neti pot? It really does help to keep the colds away.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 26, 2016, 1:22 pm

That horrible mid-20th-Century banjo strumming style…oof! I’m with you there. It’s the only kind of banjo music I can’t abide.

Scruggs style is my favorite, then melodic, frailing (the very old kind). I like classic banjo (not classical — classic is a British thing and seldom heard in the States. Seldom heard anywhere any more, come to think of it, though it’s having a bit of a revival). I can abide a bit of jazz banjo, though I’m not generally a fan of jazz.

What the heck is a neti pot, Deborah? Oh, OH! I just Googled it. I don’t think I could bear it.

Comment from OldFert
Time: October 26, 2016, 4:35 pm

A neti pot is sort of a self-inflicted waterboarding.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: October 26, 2016, 4:46 pm

Stoaty—I’ve been using a neti pot since Thanksgiving 1999. I remember the date because I was desperately ill and using the neti pot gave me a quality of life I’d never had before. I’ve had ONE cold since 1999. Just like washing germs off your hands, you can wash out rhino viruses before the viruses can lock into the nasal mucosa at the cellular level. That occurs between 8 to 12 hours (an average) after exposure. Think about no more colds. No more Nite Nurse. No more trying to figure out which cold medicine won’t ruin your blood pressure. It’s a benign way to stay healthy. I’m a zealot—no doubt about it. But do read up on the benefits of jalaneti. I’m a good salesman if you want to know more. It’s messy, but it’s not as messy as a cold 🙂 Don’t let OldFert scare you—you can still breathe while doing a neti.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 26, 2016, 6:56 pm

Sigh. Okay, Deborah. I wouldn’t mind having my nasal passages more open generally; I suppose I’m willing to try. Unka B’s herbalist had me snorting salt water for a while, and it did seem to make my breathing easier (and was probably much more uncomfortable than this sounds).

I just had a look on Amazon and there are a bewildering selection of pots available. Any advice?

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: October 26, 2016, 9:20 pm

Unka B’s herbalist is on the right track, but pouring the water through the nose is a lot easier than snorting it, and using more saline solution is better. (Would you rather bathe in the tub or run through the sprinkler with a bar of soap?)

I have bought all kinds of neti pots, and given away dozens to friends and family. They all work equally well. Cheap is just as good as expensive, but the snouts on ceramic pots are vulnerable to chipping, so go low and buy a plastic one. I think the Aladdin’s lamp style is easiest to clean.

My favorite neti pot is actually an old fashioned plastic baby bottle. Husband drilled a BB-sized hole (about 4mm) in the bottom for me, and I cut a redhot-sized hole across the top of the nipple. It’s fiddly, because you have to hold your finger over the hole on the bottom while you fill the bottle, then screw the nipple/cap on top. But the rubbery nipple is very soft in nose if your nostrils are sore and tender.

Pre-mixed packets of saline solution are fine. It’s usually one packet to 8 oz of water—that’s a mild solution. You can go stronger, but start out mild. Too strong and it burns, but not strong enough also burns. Look for those that have sodium bicarbonate in them. Sodium bicarb very slightly alters the natural pH of sinus mucosa. This makes the surface an inhospitable host of rhino viruses, and more difficult for the rhino viruses to latch in. We don’t catch colds through the mouth, we get it through the nose. Jalaneti not fool-proof. I don’t think medical science is ready to sign off on this as a guaranteed way to prevent colds, but it has worked for me.

For years I mixed my own solution: 1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate and 6 teaspoons of salt to one gallon of water makes a 1.0% saline solution, which is as near to the body’s natural salinity—.9%—as I can measure in my kitchen with ordinary measuring utensils. This is still my favorite solution but I keep the saline packets on hand.

If you are terribly stopped up, the water won’t go through. But if you can get air through, then the water will go through too. Follow the directions that come with the pot. Lean all the way over the sink. Stick the snout in your nose, and rotate your head sideways. Keep your mouth open and breathe. If the water comes into your mouth, just spit it out, and rotate your head up a little more. You may have to work the water back and forth between nostrils. Sometime one side is more swollen and closed off than the other side. Be patient, and take deep full breaths through your mouth.

Oh—water temp. About body temp to no more than 103 degrees. Too cold is very uncomfortable and too hot hurts too. If the solution goes through—make some more. I use at least one cup per side, and usually twice that much. Sometimes the first rinse softens things inside and you can really blow out a lot of gunk with a second rinse.

Do not blow hard. Easy easy easy. YOu don’t want to blow it into the Eustachian tubes. Don’t pinch off one side either. Blow from both nostrils at the same time. Bend way over the sink so your head is low. Because you are sick already, the water may drip out for awhile. But it gets better, I promise.

Try to do a neti each morning and again in the evening a few hours before bedtime.

I’m so sorry bore on and on. But you really will feel better soon, and your sinus passages will heal and shrink and you’ll breathe so much better. And when you feel like you’ve been exposed to colds or flu etc, do a neti asap, then again 5 or 6 hours later. Oh too long, but if I edit I’ll never hit send.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 26, 2016, 9:46 pm

No, I appreciate it. Twice a day EVERY day, or just when you’ve been exposed to a cold?

Most of the sachets they sell on Amazon seem to be 100% salt. Buy the salt and mix in some bicarb myself…?

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: October 26, 2016, 9:53 pm

Twice a day until you feel like you are breathing freely though both sides. If you can sleep at night and not stop up on the down side, that’s a good sign. I don’t neti every day, but 3 or 4x a week or when pollen is bad. Every day in the winter. Yes, you could add just a pinch of soda to the premix. Your local drug store or even the grocery store could have a pot and pre-mix too. The first time I did it I used a child’s play teapot I was so desperate!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 26, 2016, 10:28 pm

Okay. Ordered and on the way. I shall report back when I’ve given it a proper try…

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: October 26, 2016, 10:34 pm

And you can mix a smaller amount. To a quart of water—1/4 teaspoon of soda and 1.5 teaspoons of table salt. I used to use canning salt because it was “pure.” Meh. I don’t worry about it anymore. Also: some people—very few—experience a rebound effect from the soda. It MAKES their sinuses swell. My son is one of the unlucky few, so all he uses is salt. Which is ok too. Still very effective.

And you may initially feel even more stopped up, but that’s because the thickened mucus inside your sinus passages has shifted and stopped up somewhere else. Wait a few hours and try again.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 26, 2016, 10:40 pm

What, table salt and tap water? How do you heat it?

Comment from m
Time: October 26, 2016, 10:43 pm

Neti pot use has been greatly beneficial to me also. I slacked off for a couple days and found just how much it helped me. Find the cheapest plastic pot and try the packets. If you want to make your own, do use non iodized salt. Good luck with it.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: October 26, 2016, 11:22 pm

When I first started, I used a gallon of distilled water to make my saline solution. All these years down the road, I use tap water, chlorine and all. I warm the saline in the microwave. When I use the packets, I used warm tap water. You could heat a cup of water in the tea kettle, then mix with a cup of cold water and probably come close to ideal temperature. Let it sit and cool if needed. I used to test with water with an oral thermometer until I learned by touch—sticking my finger in the water 🙂

Comment from LesterIII
Time: October 27, 2016, 3:29 am

I have encouraged people that are new to using a neti pot to use it at the end of their shower while still IN the shower. Prep your solution & pot and have it where you can reach it. After the steam has loosened your sinuses up give it a go. Plus, if you cough/sputter or sneeze a gargantuan goober, you have no mess. It’s a good way to start. After a couple weeks of this, you’ll have the hang of it and will be able to neti with ease.

After my best friend had been neti-ing for about a month, he had a moment where (in his words) “his sinuses took a monster shit” and his world was forever changed.

A little perseverance pays off; stick with it and you’ll be very glad you did.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 27, 2016, 7:15 am

Thanks for the encouragement, y’all. My thing is on the way.

I don’t shower; I’m a bath kind of gal. I think I’ll try this kneeling over the tub at first, so I don’t make a gigantic mess and gross Unka B out at the shared sink.

My sinuses have bothered me for the last few years, that feeling that they were becoming increasingly blocked and unpredictable. I’m not too fazed by colds, but I’m increasingly concerned that my nose-breathing just doesn’t feel free and unobstructed. We shall see.

Comment from OldFert
Time: October 27, 2016, 7:02 pm

My earlier waterboarding comment notwithstanding, Mrs Fert has been using the neti procedure for quite a while now. Not every day, but mainly when she gets really plugged up over a period of days. The greater the misery, the more willing she is to neti. It’s worked well for her, and I’ve also found out where her unit is, its composition, and when, where and in what strength they plan on attacking my position. It’s for sure less messy than bamboo under the fingernails. Fewer screams, too.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: October 28, 2016, 5:08 am

Sounds interesting. I may try it.

Question: what happens to animals when their noses clog up?

Especially those with narrow or convoluted passages, such as dogs, for instance?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 28, 2016, 7:15 am

I don’t know how many animals are subject to headcolds and other respiratory doo-dahs.

Raccoons famously can catch people colds. They’re also subject to alcoholism. When my pet coon caught my cold and I gave him whisky, he was a very happy animal…for a little while. Fortunately, he never figured out where the booze came from.

Comment from Old Surfer
Time: October 28, 2016, 11:51 pm

Boil your water. My wife used a nasal rinse for years and got a chronic sinus and lung infection as a result of crap in the tap water.

Comment from Johnny Cool
Time: November 1, 2016, 1:57 am

Old school musical folks refer to the cheesier inlay work as ‘Mother of Toilet Seat’. MOP is different, and yes you can tell abalone.

Comment from Buffy
Time: December 15, 2016, 7:04 pm

This article achevied exactly what I wanted it to achieve.

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