Friday, February 27, 2015

God Damn Steam!


No, this will not be an article about the faults of Valve's Steam gaming system.  This is about the heated evaporation of dihydrogen oxide.  

Steam as a mechanic is nothing new in video games.  It is often used as a permanent barrier or an intermittent one for the hero to cross on their way to Point B.  I don't know about you dear reader, but it's been one of those obstacles that I have often felt was a bit over the top and over exaggerated.  "What do you mean I can die if I get caught in a jet of steam!?  There's steam in the bathroom when I take a shower.  There's steam that comes out of a tea kettle and I'm pretty sure I haven't died from that."  It's been one of those annoying barriers that is, well, annoying.

From Penumbra: Requiem.

Then the event of Monday November 3rd, 2014 happened.  It was in the morning and I was making coffee for myself and Conklederp as I normally do.  So I had the water in the kettle boiling and letting me know that it was ready to be moved by way of its shrill whistle.  I walked over, turned off the stop top and prepared the Aeropress with filter and grounds.

That's when the steam still jetting out of the kettle hit the back of my hand.  I pulled my hand back immediately and may or may not have uttered an expletive, but I'm thankful that I didn't have anything coffee related in my hands.  I was genuinely surprised by the temperature of the steam.  Yes I know that H2O boils at 100° C (212° F), but I had never thought of it as scaldingly hot.  I then ran my hand under cold water for a couple of seconds and I didn't give it a second thought.

Throughout the day, the back of my hand felt like I had received a contact burn from something hot, which I had and I realize how stupid this makes me sound, but in my head I had rationalized it as "But it's only steam."  I've even been trained multiple times (every two years since 2007) in first aid procedures through American Red Cross, but for whatever reason, I just figured this out.  The next day the pain was still somewhat present, but by  the following Wednesday (November 5th), the pain was gone and I didn't give it a second thought.

Later in the week, Saturday I believe while visiting my parent's, my Mother asked what had happened to the back of my hand.  It was then that I noticed that about a two inch by one inch blob shaped region on the back of my hand had become slightly puckered and rough. What I had chalked up to a very minor contact burn on par with being out in the sun for an extra 13 minutes had changed the appearance and texture of my skin.  A few days later (probably around the 11th or 12th) the skin began peeling, similar to a sunburn, but really shiny (do not do a google image search).

I would like to think that now whenever I come across steam in a game, that I will think twice about trying to sprint through this caustic barrier as if it were a minor hindrance.  And if you find the time, take a first aid course.  The courses are helpful and hopefully won't make you oblivious to the harm that heated dihydrogen oxide can do to the epidermis of your largest organ.  

And don't go running through jets of steam!

It's So Hard To Believe

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