It’s something that happens to me at least once each winter, maybe you as well. It starts with a slight – almost imperceptible – tickle in the back of the throat, followed by a piddling little cough. It’s at this point you’re bound to utter those seven little words …

“I think I’m coming down with something,” you say.

And even though you’ve been tripled dosed with the vaccine, worn your K N95 mask everywhere, and have been COVID-19 tested negative, in these pandemic times you’re still not convinced if it’s the coronavirus or the regular ol’ rhinovirus.

All of a sudden your friends back away like you’re toxic and you curse yourself for not having taken some Airborne tablets or fizzy Emergen-C the other night when you stayed up too late binging on the Chernobyl mini-series that I missed when it came out a couple of years ago. Whether or not that would’ve done any good is irrelevant because you’ve already missed that opportunity.

It’s a blah sort of thing. Like you’re coming down with something but you’re not sure, and even though you want to work, your only option is to quarantine yourself.

What can one do? You hang out in bed for a while, and after a bit get up and shuffle around in your bathrobe feeling crummy and guilty for not working, but sort of feel justified about not going in.

That being said, in a self-indulgent sort of way it’s not all bad, like novelist Samuel Butler wrote, “I reckon being ill as one of the great pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work till one is better.”

Anyway, in an attempt to feel a little better I referred back to an email my cousin in Nevada sent me with some simple home remedy cures. He grew up in rural Tennessee where DIY remedies go back at least a couple of centuries. Now they’re called “life hacks” because “home remedies” is oldfangled (to coin a word).

I didn’t try any but found them entertaining.

  • Two glasses of Gatorade can relieve headache pain almost immediately, even migraines.
  • Colgate toothpaste makes an excellent salve for burns.
  • For achy muscles mix one tablespoon of horseradish in 1/2 cup of olive oil. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then apply it as a massage oil, for instant relief for aching muscles.
  • For a sore throat mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1/4 cup of honey and take one tablespoon six times a day. The vinegar kills the bacteria.
  • Mix two cups of Quaker Oats and one cup of water in a bowl and warm in the microwave for one minute, cool slightly and apply the mixture to your hands for relief from arthritis pain.
  • Drink plenty of warm water.

Some of those make sense, at least more sense than in some of the new age health books they sell in Santa Fe, which brings to mind what Mark Twain once said: “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”

There used to be a cure-all when I was little, one that I assumed my mother grew up with; castor oil. It tasted awful, but then again so does Nyquil, which came much later. I don’t know if that fell into the “mother knows best” category, but she was pretty good at simple remedies.

If you missed it, last Thursday was our state’s 110th birthday. I didn’t get New Mexico a present and don’t even know if there was a birthday party or not.

Of course, I’m talking about statehood, which many folks in Santa Fe were trying to get as far back as the 1860s, but being New Mexicans there was much quibbling for and against. Arizona was in on this, too and at one point there were going to call the new state Montezuma, but things got simplified and on Jan. 6, 1912, New Mexico united with the other states. No matter, I’ve heard stories of some Americans who still don’t know this is a state.

My almanac also tells me today, Jan. 13, is International Skeptics Day. Or is it?

Doubters say International Skeptics Day is really October 13 and other doubters say it’s always the first Friday the 13th of the year.

I should pose that question to Tech’s own doubting Thomas, Dave Thomas, who, besides his position as a scientist at IRIS/PASSCAL, is also president of New Mexicans for Science and Reason. Dave is good at poking holes in claims that the earth is flat or that aliens crashed their spaceship in Lincoln County back in 1947.

In the meantime, I’m glad to report that I’m still coronavirus-free, and fighting off this rhinovirus with my trusty neti pot and thinking I should have gone ahead and doubled up my black-eyed peas with green chile last week.