Wednesday, February 29, 2012

nosy motto

Study title/t-shirt slogan pictured in Auragie Nebulae, © Steve Cannistra

Avery Gilbert followed up on his recent post about a study linking body odor and personality with details of a study showing a connection between personality and sense of smell. The post and the study itself raise some really interesting questions (about the very idea of a "generally sensitive person," about empathy & smell, about rose-scented markers called Sniffin' Sticks), and I don't want to be reductive, but the most exciting thing to me about this study is the title: "Agreeable Smellers and Sensitive Neurotics." I feel like that should be the new banner for this blog! Or the motto for my life. I love it.

From the study's abstract (if you're at all interested, the study is worth a look--I'm no scientist, but I found it accessible):    
Significantly enhanced odor sensitivity in socially agreeable people, significantly enhanced trigeminal sensitivity [Gilbert describes this as "the hot in chili pepper"] in neurotic subjects, and a tendency for enhanced pain tolerance in highly conscientious participants was revealed. It is postulated that varied sensory processing may influence an individual's perception of the environment; particularly their perception of socially relevant or potentially dangerous stimuli and thus, varied with personality.
Gilbert's take: 
This is a well-executed and straightforward study: measure personality, measure sensory thresholds, and look for correlations. Therein lies the rub: correlations are just that—they do not prove causation. Nevertheless, the authors spend a lot of time editorializing for the idea that sensory thresholds determine the development of one’s personality. Perhaps. But the opposite case can also be made: that being considerate and empathic toward other people disposes one to develop more finely tuned sensory abilities. 
To reiterate my main takeaway:  
Could this title be any more perfect? Rejoice, Agreeable Smellers and Sensitive Neurotics! You are among friends. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nosy Interview: Jillian Lauren

Jillian in Merope's Reflection Nebula, © Leonardo Orazi

The Rumpus, gateway to so many good things, first led me to Jillian Lauren's blog and, once there, I stuck around. Jillian is the author of the memoir Some Girls: My Life in a Harem and the recently-released novel Pretty. You can also find her on Twitter @jillylauren

What do you smell like?
I imagine I smell different to every nose. My husband has a huge overly-sensitive shnoz but he seems to like whatever I have going on. I wear Santa Maria Novella cologne--the Signature scent. I'm addicted to their products. But I keep Frankincense from Ethioipia in my scarf drawer, so when I wear a scarf I go around smelling like an African bazaar. I don't really wear much deodorant-- sometimes I wear funk butter from Oyin handmade. I don't like to smell too overly-sanitized.

What do you like to smell?   
I burn candles constantly. I like anything chocolatey or spicy. I love how the house smells when I'm cooking with loads of garlic. My husband always smells great. So does the jasmine in our backyard. And I love the way my son smells when he's sleeping.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

fresh stinky links

Have some coffee; stay awhile.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Nosy Interview: Anne McClain

 Anne in The Rosette Nebula, © Brian Davis

Anne McClain is the founder of MCMC Fragrances. I'm inspired by her pretty studio, clever products, and thoughtful blog. But I'm most intrigued by her Humanity Fragrance project, propelled by the marvelous question: "What is the scent of compassion?" I'm eager to follow along as Anne seeks answers, and would love to know your thoughts as well. What do you think compassion smells like? Can a scent make us more compassionate?

What do you smell like? 
My husband tells me on a pretty regular basis that I smell like "a fresh avocado." He's from the Dominican Republic originally, so I'm thinking this is a positive thing! 

What do you like to smell? 
Flowers, dirt, food being made with love. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

mysterious odors of unknown origins

Bad news about the lightsabers. [image via]

After seeing the above graphic in this week's New York magazine, I immediately got to googling, but the news I found didn't yield much additional information about the stink at Staples: 

TWO PEOPLE OVERCOME BY MYSTERIOUS SMELL IN GREENWICH VILLAGE STAPLES  
by Andrea Swalec and Wil Cruz
GREENWICH VILLAGE — Paramedics treated two people after they were overcome by a mysterious odor in a Staples store Wednesday, fire officials said.

Firefighters responded to reports of the smell in the store at 769 Broadway, at East 9th Street, just after 9:15 a.m.

The two people were treated on the scene for smoke inhalation, but were not transported to the hospital.

The cause of the smell was unknown.

Business was back to normal a short time later at Staples.

"The store did not close," manager Daniel Elliott said.

Calls to Staples' corporate offices were not immediately returned.
Call again, Andrea Swalec and Wil Cruz! This mysterious odor, with unknown origins, demands additional description. I tried to think of the weirdest things I've smelled at my local Staples, but the scent of hot copiers and new office chairs dominates. Surely, a smell that required medical attention must be worthy of a few adjectives beyond "mysterious" and "unknown." The shoppers were overcome!

The search term "unidentified odor" returns fewer Google results than I would have expected: a relatively modest 6,400. "Mysterious odor" is more common, with almost 53,000 results, including this one, about a "widespread and mildly irritating odor." What mildly irritates me is the lack of even a gesture towards describing the smells in these news stories. I thought reporters loved a good, gross quote. What was the smell like? Was it human or elemental?  Human and elemental? Sulfurous? Chemical? Medicinal? Like death? Did it have a color? That sticky fuchsia of some cough medicines? Was it putrid or acrid? Stale or just shat? Was it rotten? Or sharp in a way that scraped at your nose hairs? We don't know how to talk about smell, but isn't it better to try?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

happy ♡ day

I wish you a day filled with smells you adore. Because I love lists, here is one filled with things past nosy interviewees have said they like to smell:

Lemons, rosemary, beeswax candles, pizza, fig, San Diego, blown-out candles, bus exhaust, coconut water, daughter, ginger, fresh coriander, chaparral, fragrant weeds, new baby, fresh milk, manure, rotting leaves, melting cheese, peat briquettes, cedar wood, sweet plastic, Gravitron grease, farmland, horseradish, warm bread, spicy honey mead, cats’ paw pads, street markets, fresh-cut flowers, sunscreen, red wine, vanilla, bay rum, orange blossoms, vetiver, curry powder, bee balm, gyro meat, fried food, herbs, earth, bourbon, laundromats, donuts, fresh hops, wet wool, Old Spice, tangerines, Aveda shampoo, dusty LP sleeves, cardamom, ocean, almond, cucumber, garlic and onions, old men in elevators, tennis balls, blood, Lemon Pledge, lilacs, pine trees, nutmeg, rosemary, just-cut wood, bacon, brown sugar baby, limes, leather, library books, roasted corn, box of crayons, Earl Grey tea, green apples, tomato, scotch tape, anise, fennel, sun-baked earth, burning pine needles, cumin, plumeria, moss, popcorn, first kiss, sun-dried clothing, warm fur, burning leaves, roasting chicken, clove, chlorine, cinnamon sticks, distant skunks, old books, strawberries, peaches, eucalyptus, night-blooming jasmine, just-lit cigarettes, rotting seaweed, steamer clams, sun-warmed skin.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nosy Interview: Austin Kleon

Austin in Dust of the Orion Nebula, © Nicol├ís Villegas

I met Austin when we were both seated at the squirrel table at one of the best weddings I've ever attended. He's the author of Newspaper Blackout, which you should already own, and Steal Like An Artist, which you can get in just three weeks.

What do you smell like? 
That's easy: Sharpie fumes. 

What do you like to smell? 
The smell of my wife's skin after she's been out in the sun.

Monday, February 6, 2012

nosy recommends: superpower neti pot

via NeilMed

Everybody I know seems to be congested this week, and we never talk about nose care around these parts! One of the former nosy interviewees (I won't say which one, to protect all involved) has the best story about being a guest at tea, and seeing her old neti pot in its new life as a creamer (!). My former Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor suggested I use the NeilMed Sinus Rinse every single day. Whenever I remember his advice (not every day), I'm grateful for the squeeze-power of the plastic bottle, how it hastens the whole neti pot process. I should take better care of my nose, considering how much I appreciate its powers.