Is This What RSI Feels Like?

Is this what RSI feels like?

As someone who types for a living, I’ve always kept in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to lose the use of those appendages. Back in college, before I really started thinking about this, I noticed some of the early signs of carpal tunnel and, after stopping by the campus health center, they did also confirm that I was seeing those types of symptoms.

After doing a bit of research on the matter, I then bought a Kinesis keyboard (video example) and, since then, I haven’t had any problems; I could type all day and my wrists felt as good at the end of the day as they did at the beginning.

Over about the past week, though, I’ve noticed a bit of an ache at the base of my pinkie finger in my mousing hand, right around that finger’s knuckle area. (I’ve also added a Note to that Flickr image outlining the general area.) At first, I wondered a bit if I had broken it, but after thinking about it, I realized that the ache was coming and going—which I presume wouldn’t happen if it had actually been broken.

I wasn’t quite sure how I’d describe the ache/pain, but I’ll give it a shot. It doesn’t hurt enough that it stops me from sleeping. And, if I’m watching tv or otherwise pleasantly distracted, I can usually ignore it. Every now and then, the pain does occasionally reach to the level where I have to let go of my mouse for a minute and let my hand rest. Or, to put it another way, if you’ve ever punched a wall or otherwise slammed your knuckle into a hard surface (by accident or otherwise), it kinda feels like that sort of pain.

So, what now? Well, if I have any say in the matter, I still plan on typing for the rest of my professional career. And one might think, “Well, let's just add some ergonomics in there.” All of that makes sense, I think, but what I'm finding to me the tough part is separating the ergonomic myths from the legitimate guidelines. Let’s take a wrist rest, for example—I honestly don’t know if that would help or hinder. On top of that, I’m not entirely certain how I would figure that out.

For instance, this page at suggests:

“Use a wrist rest to maintain straight wrist postures and to minimize contact stress during typing and mousing tasks.”

On the other hand, this page from the “Cornell University Ergonomics Web” says:

Don’t use a Wrist Rest — research has shown that using a wrist rest doubles the pressure inside the carpal tunnel, because the floor of the tunnel is a more flexible ligament that transmits external pressure changes directly into the carpal tunnel (the roof of the tunnel is bone so the pressure doesn’t get transmitted on through the hand). […] ”

Now, I’d usually be more inclined to believe something if it’s posted at a .gov address (especially, at that), but this case, it does seem that the Cornell page cites more evidence for its case. Come to think of it, after reading over that Cornell University Ergonomics Web page a bit more, it does appear that they know what they're talking about. I mean, when the footer of your page includes a link for “More information on our Mouse research studies”, that seems like a pretty good sign, no?

One way or another, I’ll need to take care of this. If you have any suggestions—even if they’re suggestions on how to tell the good ergonomics info from the old wives’ tales—I’d be open to them.

First-Person Shooters Improve Eyesight

LiveScience reports on a study which concluded that “action video games that involve firing guns can improve your eyesight”:

A group of 10 male college students who started out as non-gamers and then received 30 hours of training on first-person action video games showed a substantial increase in their ability to see objects accurately in a cluttered space, compared to 10 non-gamers given the same test, said Daphne Bevelier of the University of Rochester.


First-person action games helped study subjects improve their spatial resolution, meaning their ability to clearly see small, closely packed together objects, such as letters, she said. Game-playing actually changes the way our brains process visual information. […]

I think this may be just the motivation I need to play Doom 3 more often — it’s for my own good, right? ;).

Possible E. Coli in Bagged Spinach

Just in case you have any bagged spinach at home, you may not want to eat that. The FDA is warning that some cases of E. Coli have been linked with this leafy goodness (well, “non-goodness” for the time being).

The Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to eat bagged spinach after an outbreak of E. Coli bacteria killed one person and sickened at least 50 others in eight states.

The FDA issued the warning Thursday night, just one day after receiving information about the growing number of E. Coli cases, which began in mid-August and stretched from Connecticut to Oregon. […]

The article went on to say that “the elderly, the young and those with weak immune systems are most likely to be at risk”. So, if you’re in good health, you probably wouldn’t die; still, there’s no need to tempt fate, eh?

Vanilla and Mint: Two Cromulent Tastes That Taste Bad Together

I brush my teeth — but who doesn’t? Anyhow, on a recent trip to Target, I picked up the Refreshing Vanilla Mint flavor of Crest’s Whitening Expressions line. I had previously tried their orange-flavored toothpaste — titled something like Citrus Blast or something equally ridiculous — and it was a pleasant change from the usual mint flavor that toothpastes generally have. Granted, it wasn't exactly like biting into an orange, or even like biting into a piece of orange-flavored Bubblicious, but it made tooth brushing just a tad more palatable.

Getting back to this other flavor, though, I recently noticed that I was running low on my Citrus Whatever tube and so I picked up “Refreshing Vanilla Mint” to give myself some variety. And, it all just went downhill from there…

The canonical vanilla-flavored food item may be vanilla ice cream (with perhaps vanilla yogurt near the top of the list as well). Well, rest assured, this toothpaste resembled neither of those. There was a hint of vanillaness, to be sure, though it somewhat reminded me of the harsh vanilla-like flavor that you might find in a vanilla-themed hard candies.

As for the mint, well, it was there. What can I say — it was pretty much standard-issue toothpaste-mint. Lowest-bidder, factory-borne mint. That alone is perhaps tolerable on the scale of a few minutes here-and-there, such as when brushing one’s teeth; when fused with factory-vanilla, though, the combination is disastrous. Imagine Crest toothpaste in your vanilla latte. Yeah, kinda like that. (Not that Mermaid Coffee uses cheap vanilla, but the end result would be approximately the same.)

In all, I might otherwise recommend the Citrus Whatever flavor of Crest’s Whitening Expressions line. However, after looking over their site, I don’t see it listed any more and I can’t help but wonder if maybe they discontinued it. All the same, since only one of their flavors turned out to be freakishly bad, the others could conceivably be fine. (And, if you can find their Citrus*.* on store shelves, grab it while you can.)

Sleep Could Help Weight Loss

WebMD is reporting on a study showing that sleep may help weight loss. Apparently, the hormone leptin — which regulates appetite — was found depressed in those who had less sleep:

Leptin is a hormone that is made predominately in fat cells. The amount of leptin in the blood is proportional to the amount of body fat. It is thought to decrease appetite. However, most obesity is characterized by resistance to leptin and its appetite-suppressing effect.

Participants who reported less sleep tended to have lower leptin levels than predicted. That might mean that their bodies weren't using leptin very efficiently. […]

The article goes on to say that it’s not as simple as More Sleep → Lose Weight, since there’re many factors that go into weight gain vs weight loss. Still, there’s nothing to lose (well, other than weight) by getting more sleep.