Get Your Summer On
Summer's in full swing. Here's your survival dictionary to mastering every skill you need to have the perfect summer.
Beach campfire, how to build
Claim some open space (clear of fire hazards) and dig down a foot. Criss-cross flat rows of solid timber, or driftwood, in a square shape, about two feet by two feet. After you've built it up two feet high, top off your pile with tinder, small twigs, or shredded rope, instructs Eagle Scout David Srebro, a camping director for the Boy Scouts of America. You're lighting from the top down, so make sure your fixings will catch. And don't add more wood too quickly; wait till the first batch burns down to the hot-ember stage, then s'more out!
Bee stings, treatment of
The first order of business is to remove the stinger, either with a pair of tweezers (preferably sterilized with a match) or your finger, or try scraping it off with the edge of a credit card, says Hilary L. Reich, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist.
If you experience shortness of breath or difficulty swallowing, call an ambulance--you might be having an allergic reaction. Otherwise, sterilize the area with soap and water, and apply antibiotic ointment.
Bike seat, height
Feel pain in your hip or thigh as you peddle? Make sure your bike seat is at the proper height. At the bottom of your pedal stroke, your leg shouldn't be perfectly straight; there should be a slight bend in the knee.
Bodysurf, how to
Maui's "first lady" of surfing, former world champion Nancy Emerson, has also been bodysurfing since age two. Her advice: Find a sandy shoreline ("Rocks hurt," she notes--but you already knew that), then swim to where the waves break. When you see a good rolling wave approaching, turn toward shore, get on your belly, and start swimming with your head up looking forward. Kick your legs to propel yourself (fins will give you great power and speed). Bring your arms to your sides as you ride the wave to reduce drag and hang loose--tensing up like a board adds 25 to 100 pounds of dead weight to your body.
Bug bites, treatment of
When a bug attacks this summer (and no doubt one will), reduce the itching and swelling with hydrocortisone 1% cream (available over the counter). Also, an oral antihistamine like Benadryl (look for diphenhydramine on the label) can provide additional rapid relief. For mosquito bites, a lotion containing camphor and menthol will soothe the itch. For more painful fire-ant bites, go with a topical anesthetic like benzocaine 20%.
Burgers, how to grill
Bobby Flay, author of Boy Meets Grill, offers these suggestions:
1. Buy fresh, coarsely ground chuck. If flavor is top priority, don't get extra lean beef. Buffalo meat offers a beefy flavor with less fat.
2. Factor in shrinkage: "Meat shrinks due to loss of moisture and fat when being cooked," says Flay, who prefers the 80% lean variety. "That's just enough fat to keep the meat moist but not so much that your burger disappears on the grill." Generally use about five ounces of meat for each patty.
3. As you form patties, add a coarse salt like kosher and grind on fresh black pepper. "Pre-ground doesn't have the vibrancy of flavor."
4. Cook on high heat: four minutes on each side for medium-rare, five minutes for medium, and six minutes for well-done.
Cannonball dive, the perfect
It doesn't matter if you're not built like an actual cannonball; although "a good carbo-load the night before would definitely help," notes Steve McFarland, executive director of this June's U.S. Olympic team diving trials. Whether from a diving board or a dock, jump straight up, tuck your knees into your chest, and grab hold of your legs with both arms. Keep clutching your knees until you're completely submerged--you're not going for a massive splash, just a high one. (Think huge fountain stream.)