I mean to bring this up at the beginning of every summer, and it always keeps getting put off. So I'll do it now: if I had my own Nobel Prize for chemistry to award, I would give it to Dr. Robert Smith of Oregon, in recognition of his genius in inventing Tecnu. [Update: I should say the late Dr. Smith, since he died at 88 last November. That would be disqualifying for the actual Nobel prizes but not for mine.]
If you don't care about poison ivy (or its western counterpart, poison oak) -- if there's none where you live, if it doesn't bother you -- you can stop reading now. Otherwise, gaze in admiration at the Tecnu giant-size bottle I keep on hand between April and November, shown below ready for action inches away from a bathroom sink, and follow along if you will:
I feel very lucky in the general health category, and perhaps in karmic atonement I am pathologically sensitive to poison ivy and similar plants. I don't even need to touch them; walking within a foot or so of their leaves can lead to trouble. One of the few public-health benefits for me of living in China is that poison ivy didn't seem to exist there. Or at least not in places I visited, since otherwise I would have known via instant outbreaks of boils and inflammation. The pictures at the gruesome Poison-Ivy.org site are not of me. But I know how the Job-like victims shown there feel.