Google can’t solve it all

The beautiful thing about the Internet is the sheer volume of information it contains. At the same time, the worst part of the Internet … is also the sheer volume of information it contains.

I ran headlong into both aspects of Google’s mammoth search capacity last week during a kitchen mishap.

By no means am I the most proficient man around when it comes to cooking, but I can handle a few basic meals when I have enough time where I’m not settling for fast food on a time crunch. Last week, I was dicing tomatoes, onions and a variety of peppers for some salsa.

Jalapenos had never burnt my hands very much in the dozen or so times I’d sliced them before, but for some reason, I must have gotten a particularly fiery bunch.

Within a half-hour, my left hand had begun to sizzle mildly. After an hour had gone by, the tips of my fingers were in a full-blown blaze that sent me tapping away at the keys of my laptop, begging for answers from the Google machine. The pain, in and of itself, was bearable. But sleeping through it seemed an impossibility.

A search for “jalapeno hands burning” brought up 328,000 results. Browsing through pages upon pages of home remedies, it seemed nobody could agree on the best methods. The only agreement I could find — Wear gloves! — was hindsight that didn’t help me one bit.

Yet, one after another, I tried a wide variety of rather embarrassing tips on how to ease the burning. Dairy products, one suggestion said. So, I tried bowls of sour cream, first, and then eventually milk, soaking my aching hand for 20 minutes.

Although soothing for the moment, the burn returned as soon as I removed my hand … and sleeping with one hand in a bowl of milk hardly seemed like an option.

So I continued down the list. Vinegar, mustard, vegetable oil — no help.

Toothpaste, alcohol, egg whites and After Bite bug ointment (a product I had to pick up the week before from working on, ironically, a story about mosquitoes) also failed to bring relief.

Urine, one suggestion said. I had to draw the line. I wasn’t in that much pain.

I went to the store for a couple last ditch efforts. Limes, one of the most highly touted cures online, had absolutely no effect. Neither did calamine lotion.

The burning was so intense and distracting, I began to worry how well I’d be able to function the next day at work. Would I be able to focus?

Would my fingers be too tender for typing? The jalapeno burn could last up to 24 hours, some websites said.

Finally, in the early hours of the morning, exhaustion turned out to be the greatest cure as I passed out with my hand still on fire.

The lesson I learned was a tough one to come to grips with, having spent the vast majority of my life with the Internet at my fingertips: Google might have all the information in the world, but it can’t solve every problem.

Garrett Rudolph is the managing editor of The Chronicle. He can be reached at 509-826-1110 or via email at


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