Here's the Scoop: July 7, 2010

The dangers of relaxation
Each season of the year comes with a certain amount of danger.
Winter, naturally, brings the fear of car crashes and injuries from falling. Among spring’s biggest drawbacks are black flies and spring fever — the latter which occurs when it’s still 42 degrees in late May.
Fall can be a particularly tough season. Damaged hearing from listening to neighbors’ leaf blowers is high on the injury list. There’s also the “next day” pain and suffering resulting from having too good of a time at an Oktoberfest celebration.
Summer brings its own hazards, including sun burn and cuts resulting from the careless use of power tools. Oh, and winter does not corner the market on injuries from falls. My research has shown that summer falls — specifically from hammocks — are on the rise.
You might even say that I’ve gotten personally involved in the “hammock drop” data. Because I have gotten so close to my subject matter, I like to think I have a leg up on other researchers in this field. And a leg down. And both legs over my head!

Ouch...in real life
Hammock tumbles have long been the subject of slapstick humor, but they are very real. And painful. In fact, I think hammock plunges have their own special category of injury. Certainly a hard tumble to the ground can bring about serious harm. But this is almost always combined with a very comical act of falling.
Face it, if you’ve seen someone ejected from a hammock, there’s always a long moment when you’re anxiously awaiting the injury report. Number one, you need to know of any possible broken bones, etc. so you can begin planning for an emergency room excursion. But more importantly, you are hoping for a “thumbs up” from the faller — so you can laugh your butt off at them.
When I was doing my in-depth research into hammock falls, I added another element. Background: having suffered what I thought was a bee sting during a bike ride, I quickly ingested a big dose of medication “just in case.” When it was clear that either the medicine had done its job or it had not been a bee sting (big allergy problem there), I headed out to relax in the hammock. My people tell me that I must have been a bit groggier from the medication than I had thought. Before I knew it, I was hitting the ground — with a thud.
The witnesses politely waited the appropriate amount of time to see if I was OK — and then roared with laughter at my predicament.
“That stings way more than the bee,” I told the merry onlookers. The snickering continued for hours. Days even.
The tables were turned a few weeks ago when a houseguest raced to the hammock, frosty summer libation in hand, and rolled to the ground faster than a hummingbird flaps its wings. Three, two, one: ha, ha, ha!
The tumbler blamed her header on some spilt drink she allegedly stepped on right before making her ascent into the hammock. Other party members blamed the drink the drink in her tumbler. “Pour judgment,” we told her.
I wasn’t around to witness the following mishap and it didn’t involve a hammock, but it was close. Some other friends thought it would be a good idea to watch a meteor shower while bundled up on a cool summer’s evening and sitting atop some “really cool tri-pod chairs.” As it turns out, the “cool” part came when one of the star-gazers ended up rolling around in the dewy grass, just moments after warning, “I’m going over!”
Since this episode, they have decided to buy a hammock for their night sky observations. My guess is it’s only a matter of time before they’re seeing stars.