Monday, May 15, 2006

A Pale Horse

So I nearly died on Saturday, no joke.

I was eating a piece of fish with some rice and beans and I missed one of the Y-shaped spines.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. I didn’t come very close to dying since I could still breathe and all but I really did choke on a fish bone.

Funny thing actually, as I sat there gagging and clawing at my throat everyone seemed to have some advice on how to dislodge the offending foreign object, including but not limited to, the absurd instruction to just relax. And (voice of experience here) none of them work.

You know what does work?

Dislodging the bone by puking up the content of your stomach. Eh-yup.

Alright so, now I’ve saved you a lot of pain and suffering should you ever get a fish bone stuck in your throat. You can thank me later.

Now I’m looking out the airplane window, my seat is the window seat just behind the wing. We’re about to land, in gray light against an orange horizon. I gaze down over the wing, down towards the rapidly approaching glinting lights of the airport.

I wonder about the plane, as I watch the flaps move, tilt down. I try to picture the airstreams, white lines moving over the wings’ surfaces. Vague memories and the words Bernouill effect assembles at the edges of my conscious mind.

I mull over the meaning.

I wonder if the downed flaps help slow the plane’s inertia but I don’t remember my freshman physics very well. It’s pure uninformed conjecture. I realize I have no idea what magical machinations of physics holds the plane and its cargo, us, aloft.

A rhetorical question, how does an airplane fly? I don’t care to know, it doesn’t interest me really. I have had enough ornithology and physics to know my eyes would glaze.

No, mostly I am amazed the trust I (we) have in our ability to survive, our immortality, and in the precautions we take to continue surviving.

How often do we look to microscopic pathogens? And even if we have seen them, in a photo in a text book or under a ‘scope, it is entirely disconnected from the disease. A mounted and stained malaria plasmodium doesn’t cause malaria. An electron microscopy image of a rhinovirus doesn’t cause influenza. All our preventative measures are developed from inference. Or trial and error.

We wash our hands because the germ theory of disease tells us to do so or get sick.
We get on planes because some physics equation tells us if you get big enough engines and the right shape in the wing, you can make a hundred and eighty tons of metal fly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey mate,

It's summer. Let's do something summerish.