Thursday, November 29, 2018

November rain


Sunday morning...

I came down with a head and chest cold on Monday and it's made me fairly miserable. Fever and chills, headache, sneezing and coughing. The combination is bad enough during the day but worse at night. It's just hard to sleep with a stuffed up head and lungs needing to expel the mucoid detritus of immune response.

I gave up at 3 a.m. and climbed out of bed. I'd much rather be sleeping but that's just off the table, so it's up and at 'em.

As I rolled out of bed I could have sworn that I was hearing the muted drumbeat of light rain in the roof. Hmmm. The weather guessers had predicted a 50 percent chance of overnight snow. A quick glance at the thermometer told me that the instrument believed the air temperature to be 35 degrees. I quickly did the math and concluded that it could in fact be raining. A glance outside seemed to support the notion.

Rain on November 29! Why, that must be very unusual! I wonder how unusual?

Fortunately for my curious mind, I've got interweb access to the local weather database, and the information there hasn't yet been altered by NASA and NOAA. What has the November weather been like over the last 125 years?

Since 1893 the average daily high temperature for November 29 is 45.6 degrees, and the average low temp 18.6. The warmest November 29 was 70 degrees in 1932, and the coldest was -5 degrees in 2001. According to those numbers it's been, on average, warm enough for rain and cold enough for snow.

But November is also a rather dry month around here. On average we see 0.55 inches of liquid equivalent precipitation for the month, and 5.3 inches of snow. For record keeping purposes, snowfall is recorded as inches of depth but is also always melted to measure liquid water content. This way we're not mixing our apples and oranges, as it were. According to the record, we've had November 29 precipitation in 19 of the last 125 years, averaging 0.02 inches of liquid equivalent and 0.2 inches of snow. Getting back to the question then, has that liquid measure all come from snow? Is rain on November 29 an extraordinary event?

A rough approximation of the liquid content of snow in these parts is 1:10; that is, an inch of snow yields roughly a tenth of an inch of liquid water. So 0.2 inches of snow would likely yield 0.02 inches of liquid, therefore it's fair to assume that most of the average liquid measure has come from snow. Perhaps even all of it. Using the same approximation, the 125-year November average of 5.3 inches of snow should yield 0.53 inches of liquid, yet the liquid average for November is 0.55 inches. Does that extra two-hundredths represent rain, or just slightly wetter snow?

If you've stuck with me so far, you've probably figured out the answer. Of course there's been rain on November 29 over the last 125 years. It doesn't happen all that often, but it does happen. According to the record, on six occasions since 1893 we've had rain but no snow on November 29. That's six out of 19 precipitation events, so roughly one-third of the time when we see moisture on this day it comes as rain and not as snow. Also, it's rather likely that at least some quantity of liquid rain fell during the remaining 13 precipitation events. 

As it turns out, rain on November 29 isn't an OMG happening. Kinda cool, eh?

The world is an interesting place, located as it is an a universe where we can only dimly perceive reality. For some reason -- and as far as I can tell no one knows why -- we have emotions. One of those emotions is wonder, and as we experience nature's reality it's not uncommon to find ourselves awash in a sea of wonder. Rain falling on November 29 gives me a strong sense of wonder, as does my discovery that it's a less uncommon thing than I first assumed.

Sooo, what's the point?

Hell, I don't know. What I do know is that despite being sick and miserable I'm also filled with a sense of delightful wonder at what the universe is throwing out there. Reality is a tonic for me, a touchstone that helps me keep my experience and existence in perspective.

I'm very, very thankful for such a gift.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sweet Little Lies



Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies, tell me lies

As usual I started this post quite some time ago but I've been having trouble getting back to it. I guess I am pretty busy, although it doesn't seem so as the days go by. Just a constant stream of stuff to be doing and somehow my intention to blog seldom appears up at the top of the priority list. I don't look at the interwebs a lot anymore, so I'm not sure whether blogging is still a thing. Some of my friends and family tell me I need to get back on the koobecaf and do the twitter, and that I should sign up for the pinwhine and instavictim. Since I "should" do so -- according to the expert and superior intellects of professional government parasites, I won't. Bet no one saw that coming!

Dad's hanging in there. The September 30 fall he had should have finished him in short order, but he's been slowly but surely recovering from that. His liver is still screwed, but he retains enough liver function to survive and have a better-than-could-be quality of life. He relies on diuretics to keep the portal hypertension down and still gets fluid drained and albumin infused every week. He's weak and shaky but holding his own. It's not a great existence for him but not nearly as bad as it could be.

As for me, I've got cattle and land to tend, newspaper words to write, and a more physically smart lifestyle to manage. Seems to be just about the right quantity of stuff.

Back in May this working out thing sucked. I suspected that if I persevered I'd have some nice results. Loose a little weight, gain a little strength and endurance, feel a little better.

But I didn't know for sure. It was possible that I'd just blow my Achilles up again and be out of business. It was also possible that at my creaky, post-middle age place in life, that I just couldn't do it. That the tank was empty, that I'd put all that fitness stuff permanently behind me and had only recliner and decliner ahead.

I was actually more worried about the Achilles. I was reasonably sure that barring injury I could get back into some semblance of shape. I was pretty sure I still had enough juice left.

But I didn't know.

May sucked. It hurt quite a bit, which was to be expected. Doing hands-on stuff outside isn't the same as working out. Nothing wrong with outdoor physical labor. It's good for you on many levels. But it's not the same thing as building strength and endurance. That repetitive exercise thing stresses heart and body systematically and repeatedly, and that causes a lot of aches and pains. Routine physical labor doesn't do that, which is proof that working out is a different thing.

The days became weeks, then months. At first it was a slog and a lot of it I didn't much like. Pushing through the hard bits isn't a lot of fun. It feels good at the end of the workout and gives a solid sense of accomplishment, but that doesn't make the hard bit fun or enjoyable while it's happening.

Sooo... I found that lying to myself could be quite helpful.

"Man, that feels good!"

"Screw this, I'm gonna take it easy today and just do (fill in the blank)." Then along the way I find myself saying, "Just one more."

And so on. Sorry about the sideways video.

I no longer set out to do crush days. The thought is too scary and I'm too prone to giving up. If I quit before reaching a goal then I feel bad about my effort. If I set the bar low and then "overperform," however, I feel much more better about what I've done.

I have to be careful about the lying to myself though, because I can fall for bad bullshit as easily as I can fall for good bullshit. One of the sneaky things my mind does is take a concept like "rest and regenerate" or "listen to your body" and run with it -- all the way to the recliner!

I'm 60 years old, a doddering post middle-age senior citizen. Stuff hurts. Stuff doesn't work like it did four decades ago. Stuff is harder to do than it usetawas.

The bad bullshit fairy tells me that it's all behind me now and it's time to give up and give in. The good bullshit fairy says "just one more."

So far, so good.

I remember when walking up smokebong hill was a great accomplishment, and when doing so five times during a five mile walk was like an Olympic-level competition. This morning I RAN to smokebong hill, then RAN up the hill 10 times (walking down, of course, then RAN (except for a couple of video segments) home. Six point five miles in 45 minutes. Completely stupid! How can I be able to do that?

It's important for me to remember that I owe a great debt to the surgeon and team who finally unfiretrucked my achilles, and to the superb physicians and nurses at our local horsepistol who quite possibly saved my foot, leg, and even life with daily antibiotic infusions. This fitness thing has been a team effort.

It's still cool to realize that I've been able to go from shit to fit, and at an advanced age no less! Like that Yoda dude said, do or do not. 

There'll come a time when I can't do this anymore, but that time is not here yet. So for now I'll just keep plugging away. I feel better, I can do more regular work in addition to the physical stuff, and there are a lot of hot young 40-50 year old chicks hitting on me.

There are worse places to be.