Author Archives: Timothy Clayton

Foot Cramp Remedy

The informant was sitting at a kitchen table one day with his Grandma.  Suddenly, the informant began experiencing a painful, sudden foot cramp.  He reached down to grab at his foot in pain.  His Grandma, understanding what was going on, got up and told him to stay still.  She pinched the tip of the big toe that was cramping for several seconds, and all of a sudden the cramp vanished.  The informant’s Grandma told him that this folk remedy had been passed down for generations in the family–she had learned it from her mother.

The informant still uses the trick to this day, and says it works most of the time.  The informant thinks this “trick” might be partly psychological, but he also thinks that when you pinch the tip of your toe, you have to flex your foot a bit which increase circulation–and decreases cramping.

I agree with this interpretation.


Mom’s Mole

The informant’s mother would also made her a special Mexican dish for her birthday–mole (pronounced moh-ley).  In mole, chocolate is traditionally used, but the informant’s mother doesn’t use chocolate–she has her own method of preparing the dish.  The mother first roasts chipotle chilis in a pan with a little bit of oil.  Then, she takes saltine crackers and fries them with some pepper seeds.  Then, the mother combines everything together and always blesses the food as it’s simmering, making the sign of the cross over it.

The informant says that her mother’s recipe tastes just like it was prepared with chocolate, but her mother has managed to use a completely different set of ingredients.  The informant also points out that she doesn’t really like the mole, but that her mother thinks she does.

This seems to be consist with many ethnic dishes–the dish is prepared because it has always been prepared, but nobody actually likes it.

Throne of Beers

This is a story the informant heard from a friend she had during her freshman year of college.  This friend was rushing a Hispanic fraternity.

During the first week of Rush, one of older members of the fraternity had a  birthday.  In honor of this birthday, the six pledges had to drink enough Tecate beers to build him a giant throne–in one night.  The throne had to be big enough to sit in, and sit comfortably in.  The six pledges started drinking early, and supposedly finished over 120 beers before the throne was complete.  They presented the throne to the birthday boy, but he said–“it is not finished”–and made them drink bottles of hard alcohol to decorate the drone with.

The informant got to see throne once after that night was over.  The informant says she heard that many of the pledges got sick after they were done with this task.

I think this ritual reinforces the power structure of the fraternity.  The pledges have to complete a grueling, sickening (literally) task on their quest to gain acceptance to the fraternity.  However, this also builds a sense of community among the pledges, and shows them that they have to work to gain entrance into this society.

A Monster Lives in the Sink

When the informant was a little boy, his parents would have a babysitter come over to take care of him and his sister.  After the informant and his sister finished dinner, they would bring their plates to the sink to wash them.  The baybsitter would say, as they approached the sink: “A monster lives in the sink, below the drain.  Be careful!”  The informant and his sister would very carefully wash their dishes, being sure to not let their hands go near the drain.

Years later, the informant now realizes the babysitter was simply protecting him and his sister from sticking their hands into the garbage disposal.  The informant thinks this was a good way to keep him and his sister out of danger.

I would add that this superstition also tapped into many children’s fear of darkness, making it an even more effective “safety-superstition.”  The scary noise the garbage disposal makes when run is the icing on the cake.




So that they wouldn’t put their hands down there

Good way to keep out of danger—potential harm

You’re Not a Real Programmer Until….

“You’re not a real web programmer until you can hack an Apache server.”  The informant heard these words quite often when he was just beginning to hone his skills in computer programming and hacking.  It’s also these words that led the informant to, in fact, hack his first Apache server.

An Apache server is the type of server that most databases run on, the informant says.  The informant thinks this rite of passage is interesting, but that some people would say it’s not true.  The informant believes it ultimately depends on who you work with when computer programming.

I agree with this analysis.