Monday, September 30, 2019
A course-grained analysis of selected shit that ain't right
I've got 37 drafts in the queue on this blog. Perhaps 10 percent of them have a hope of being published, and perhaps 10 percent of those have a hope of being readable.
In the realm of neat and tidy, that shit ain't right. In the realm of neat and tidy, an adequate blogger would prune those drafts back and let the thing have room to grow and flourish.
Of course, it's a blog. It's not a firetrucking hedge.
I had 48 hours pain free following steroid injections in the tissue surrounding some angry nerve roots in my lumbar spine area. The lack of pain was wonderful. A bit less than 48 hours after the injections some of the pain and some of the paresthesia (altered sensation -- numbness, tingling, stinging, etc.) began to return. That's a bit disappointing, but not unexpected. Reality is in no way compelled to produce the outcomes I demand. The thing that is going to happen here is that my body is going to do what it can do, not what I demand it do. There are various ways I can support it in that mission, and there are various ways medicine can support and enhance what it does, but those things are limited by the constraints of reality.
Context, scale, perspective. Although some pain has returned, and although pain (particularly nerve pain) is unpleasant, this pain is greatly reduced from what I had before. In some ways I'm kinda being a chickenshit crybaby to even mention it to others, let alone myself.
A reasonable and reasoned reading of the tea leaves reveals that nearly everything augers well for a good outcome. In my selfish world of demands, I desire a return to the ability to walk and run and exercise without pain. Will I have a result that at least coarsely echoes my desire? Only time will tell.
And then there's the important part. How will I respond to the good stuff and bad stuff, not-so-good stuff and not-so-bad stuff, as it develops? Will I behave as I should or as as I can? Will I behave as a principled man or as an egocentric lout?
As the growing season winds down and the annual cycle of life approaches senescence, those of us who have actually observed the 2019 cycle can't help but conclude that it's been a very good year for growing things.
As you may recall from second grade science, plants take light from the sun and through photosynthesis convert light energy into the power needed to smash carbon from the air and hydrogen from water and micro-nutrients from the soil into growth and reproduction. Plants "breath in" carbon dioxide, and "breathe out" oxygen. Herbivorous animals eat plants, carnivorous animals eat herbivores, and omnivorous animals eat some of both. Animals breathe in the oxygen produced by plants, and breathe out much of the carbon dioxide required by plants. All along the way animals return micro-nutrients to the soil from their metabolic effluent and from the decomposition of their husks when they croak.
Given the fundamental and homeostatic nature of Earth's cycle of life, a thinking plant or animal can step back, observe over time, and develop a sense of the requirements and conditions which bound the cycle. Everywhere it's essentially the same. The sun provides warmth (for liquid water to flow) and energy. The air provides carbon. Water provides hydrogen and oxygen and a vehicular solvent for moving micro-nutrients around as well as a miniature sea where cellular metabolism can take place.
A thinking plant or animal might be somewhat forgiven if they assume that life depends on a razor sharp balance of water, earth, wind and fire. It does not. Abundance of growth, however, does depend on the quantitative abundance of those constituents. And therein lies the key to what some of us call the difference between a good year and a bad year.
The solar flux is for all practical human purposes more or less fixed. Likewise the atmospheric gas mix. These things are variable over time, of course, and the period of variability is far, far greater than the time scales we're used to operating and thinking in.
And then there's water. Compared to earth, wind and fire, water is wildly variable. Here on the land anyway, and over the very tidy human time scales we like to play in. Life can't do without solar energy or atmospheric carbon or the constant turnover of micro-nutrients, but those things are all but hidden to our short-scale observations and desires. Water, though... Water comes from precipitation, and precipitation is very common. Furthermore, while the earth, wind and fire change so little and so slowly that we don't notice, precipitation changes all the time. Annually, seasonally, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly. As dense and shortsighted as we humans are, we really can't miss precipitation. Or the variability of precipitation.
As it turns out, the difference between a good year and a bad year is the difference between abundant plant growth and non-abundant plant growth. There's always far more earth, wind, and fire than needed to produce abundance. The limiting factor is water, or precipitation. This year there has been plenty of precipitation and therefore more than enough water in the soil for the plants to produce like mad. Good year. Through today (September 30) we've received 25.73 inches of liquid precipitation since January 1. The 125 year annual average is 16.77 inches, so we're almost nine inches ahead, or more than 1.5 times the annual average.
Unlike some of the other observations in this post, there ain't nothing wrong with that.
From the "what are you, some kind of felinophile?" vault...