Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Learning and driving on

Nature in springtime is a beautiful thing.

In this part of the world the transformation from winter to spring is delightful. Cold and drab seem to last a very long time, and I kind of get used to the world looking and feeling like winter. It's not a bad thing, but it is winter. And then spring arrives in a rush of rebirth. In the wake of boring old winter springtime is sensory overload. Delightful sensory overload. Pretty flowers, pretty green grass, pretty leaves, pretty babies. Pretty everything.

Since waving goodbye to Uncle Sugar's Yacht Club I have been blessed to spend a great deal of time out of doors and away from the ape-lizard accommodations where most of us spend nearly all of our lives. Mind you, my daily explorations of nature's reality have been limited to a very local area. I'm familiar with this area and the rhythms of this place have seeped into the core of my being. I feel intimately at home here.

Now you might think that I'm an expert on nature's work here on my familiar stomping ground.


Nature surprises me every single day. She is always changing things up and showing me things I've not seen before. Sometimes things which have been certified as impossible by The Committee For Excellence In Ape-Lizard Certification.

The video above is a case in point. This lovely bouquet of breeze-ruffled tickseed appears to be threadleaf coreopsis, Coreopsis verticallata. According to The Committee, it's not allowed to be here. We're allowed to have Coreopsis tinctoria, but not verticallata. Nevertheless...

An important lesson -- for me at least -- is that what exists in nature's reality is truth. Nature doesn't exist in television or film or books or VR video or in this blog. What I can see and touch and smell and taste an hear is real, the other stuff is a poor and incomplete imitation.

Where am I going with this? I'm not entirely sure. Just a reminder, perhaps, that all of the things we see in various magic image machines are woefully incomplete representations. The actual people, places and things they mimic are fundamentally different in reality than they appear in two dimensional dress. This is probably a good thing to keep in mind.

Now where was I?

Oh yeah, springtime!

Spring is a time of rebirth, but death is also part of the process. Predators consume prey, even when the prey is cute. The bullsnake will seek out, find, and consume recently hatched Say's Phoebe chicks. Doesn't matter whether we like it or not. Nature does nature stuff on her own terms.


One way an ape-lizard can describe nature is to say it is round. It is round and full and closes a continual circle of birth, livin', death, and rebirth. Nature's holistic cycle is the place in which we live, and we are part of it whether we like it or not. Whether we believe it or not. To paraphrase an oft butchered quote, you may not care about nature, but nature cares about you!


This spring has been a surprisingly hard time for me. There have been moments, minutes, hours, and even strings of days where the sledding has been impossibly hard. Looked at and analyzed intellectually, my path is curious and interesting. Where do some of these roadblocks come from? What is their true nature? Why is the struggle so hard at times?

Many if not most of the what and why questions are simply unknowable. In a very real sense they do not matter. My job is to suck it up and drive on.

None of that makes sense, does it?

It's not all hard all the time though. I get slammed with beautiful life adventures every day.

I paused while writing this to capture some video of the pre-dawn morning. Another microscopic slice of beauty, even though my phone camera lens had a slight coating of three year-old fingerprints.

The last couple of days have been filled with adventure and I have some fun things to share in the next couple of posts.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty. 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Doc's Monthly(ish) Dump

I have so many drafts started. Ideas flower but life and inertia spring (get it?) to the fore, and the ephemeral beauty fades.

Looking back from today, June 5, I can now see with clarity how hard the winter was. The combination of physical and emotional pain is a tough one. Over much of the winter I was in a sense barely hanging on, shuffling forward haltingly. But I did shuffle forward. I had to bring grit and determination but the table was set by God's grace and the love of family.

It'll be 10 months on Thursday. Alexzandra walks with me, day in and day out. Sometimes I get quite cross with her. "Leave me alone! No more hurt!"

She ignores my bullshit whining. Of course.

Thank God.


Okay, here we go with some funny stuff and pondering. I posted this a while back and I recently experienced a bizarre echo of a similar but completely different experience.

To set the scene I'm thinking about, early in my recounting the tale of Grease's interesting day, there was a point where Grease was having a seizure on the deck of the tiny fighter squadron Maintenance Control space on the boat. The squadron's Maintenance Master Chief -- a very senior, very skilled and experienced sailor who had been sailing the briny years and years before veet-jam was even a thing -- had tried his best to help out by finding a large tablespoon. Back in the day "everyone" knew that if a person had a seizure you had to stick a tablespoon in their mouth to keep them from swallowing their tongue. I can remember being introduced to the concept in elementary school -- perhaps in second grade.

There's a story behind that introduction. During a high school basketball game one of the local players collapsed and perished on the court. As you can imagine this was a significant emotional event for our small town. The word that we second-graders got was that the lad had swallowed his tongue, and if only someone had stuck a tablespoon in his mouth he would have survived.

What really happened? I have no idea and I'm probably not going to to try to research a tragedy half a century gone. But there could be a grain of truth in there. His tongue might have blocked his airway during a seizure and he might have expired from suffocation. Opening the airway by lifting the tongue with a tablespoon might indeed have saved the day. There are better ways to clear an airway though, and sticking a tablespoon in there is quite a risky thing to do, so I can't come down solidly on the tablespoon side.

Anyway, there I was the other day assembling widgets at the widget foundry. Across from my work station is the work station of another olden duffer. This guy has the old-duffer diabetes and doesn't appear to take it seriously. It's not unusual for him to zone out with low blood sugar, and the local ambulance has responded such incidents several times in the recent past.

Now I don't know the old guy's story, but I do know that I find it irritating when he has an attack of vapors. That irritation is all on me; no one else in the universe is responsible for for me being selfishly irritated. In my incomplete world view he should be taking better care of himself so as not to put me in an uncomfortable position.

That uncomfortable position rests in the perspective of a former first responder who still feels responsible for responding. And also knows he's long out of cert. And also knows that it's not his job to super-corpsman his ass into every sniffle that appears in the world.

On the one hand I still want to be the man, on the other hand I don't want to be bothered, especially by the antics of an olden duffer who in my judgement needs to step up to the plate and execute some personal responsibility.

Yep, you got it in one! I'm an asshole!

Now where was I.....?

Kay. Olden duffer begins to zone out. There's a flurry of activity as line leaders, the foundry's self-certified medical response team, bored widget assemblers, and most of the community's dog population converge and begin milling about smartly, shouting advice and encouragement at each other. The crowd makes it impossible to work, and impossible for me to help, unless I decide to use my super-corpsman command voice and take charge. Which I do not want to do.

A fleeting thought is this -- being unconscious and at the mercy of such a bizarrely remarkable crowd is an awful thing. I try to imagine myself in the olden duffer's place and decide that I must, at my very next opportunity, visit my favorite tattoo parlor and have "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" inked across my chest. And across my forehead.

I also think -- again fleetingly -- that the price of not taking care of oneself is sometimes its own reward.

Crap! It has been a hard winter!

At this point it's nearly break time and I have a date with step running, so I slide past the circus and get on with some cardio. Within a couple of minutes I have a good sweat going and my heart rate is up to 180 or so. Feels good.

Then the plant PA system erupts with a call. "Anyone who knows CPR please join the circus immediately!!!"

I'm internally pulled in a couple of different directions. What are the chances that CPR is actually required just now to save olden duffer's life? If so, what are the chances that he can be resuscitated? What are the chances that an out of cert paramedic will be savaged if the circus goes south?

Tiny. Essentially impossible. Highly likely.

I keep running steps.

The plant door bangs open and a circus member rushes out. "Shaun, come quick, olden duffer needs CPR!"

Oh, firetruck me.

Inside the circus crowd has grown and now includes most of the population of the nearby villages of Dix and Bushnell. There are even a few latecomers from Fort Morgan, down in Colorado. It's a festive circus. No ambulance yet though.

I eyeball the situation. Olden duffer is leaned back in his chair. He's clearly breathing and I'm reasonably certain his heart is ticking along. One of the circus acrobats has thoughtfully stuffed an ink pen in olden duffer's mouth, because it's what you do.

I return to my cardio. The best thing I can do to shield myself from the tender mercies of the circus is to stay fit and healthy. Sucks to be olden duffer, but at least he's presenting an object lesson in how not to do it.

Man, am I an asshole or what?

Postscript. The ambulance arrives. Olden duffer gets glucose gel under the tongue. He comes around, signs AMA (against medical advice) for the fifth or sixth time in the last 60 days, and goes home for beer and pretzels. He's back at work the next day.


And now for something entirely more funner.

The first of the cattle arrived yesterday. What's better than cows savaging fresh grass in early June?

Earlier in the day I came across an earless lizard. More properly a Common Lesser Earless Lizard, Holbrookia maculata. Beautiful lizard. If the herp experts are correct, the golden hue on this one identifies her as a female ready for egg laying.


After that adventure I came across a Pronghorn giving birth. I was a quarter-mile away and the optical zoom wasn't quite up to sharp images, especially with shimmering heat waves in the mix.

I left the new pair alone for about an hour and a half, then drove back by just in case I might be able to get some decent video of the baby.

Which I did!

Quite a beautiful springtime day which included lots of physical labor and bumping into nature's springtime rebirth.


Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.