Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Me and The Big Mountain

They’re going to re-measure Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.  Scientists fear the big guy may have shrunk as much as three feet as a result of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

 Surveyor General of India Swarna Subba Rao said,  “Everest height was declared, if I remember correctly, in 1855. Many others also measured it. But the height given by the Survey of India, even today, is taken as the correct height. It is 29,028 feet. We are remeasuring it. Two years have passed since the major Nepal earthquake. After that, there is a doubt in the scientific community that it is shrinking. That is one of the reasons. Second reason is, it helps in scientific studies, plate movements etc. We plan to send our expedition team in two months.”

Mountains can speak — the wind gives them voice — but I doubt they can hear.  If Everest could hear, I would try to console it by telling it the story of my last visit to the doctor.

Before you see the doctor, they weigh you, take your blood pressure and measure you.  The nurse fiddled with the measuring apparatus and said, “Six feet two inches.”

“Oh, no,” I objected.  “Your device must be wrong.  I’m 6-4.  Have been since junior year of high school.”

She remeasured.  “Six feet two inches,” she said firmly.  “High school was a long, long time ago.”

“You have 32 vertebrae,” the doctor said.  “They bear a lot of weight over your lifetime.  As you get older, the space between them tends to compress.  It only takes 1/16 of an inch between vertebrae to reduce your height by two inches.”

Shrinkage, it seems, is part of the natural cycle, like the “growing pains” of youth.  What goes up, comes down.  

Everest, being a relatively young mountain, might be upset at first but it should consider that the Appalachians, which used to be very tall like the Himalayas, seem to be quite happy in their current, much shrunken status. They’ve even figured out how to grace their so-called “balds” with lovely patches of rhododendron. 

Mountains are spared the problem of worrying about other kinds of shrinkage, like hands.  

I used to be able to palm a basketball in each hand, I told the doctor.  Even sent a picture of me doing so to a surgeon who had repaired one of my hands after an injury.

“Don’t try it now,” the doctor said. “Too much arthritis.  Maybe a soccer ball . . .”  But it wouldn’t be the same.  Sad.
This is no time for anyone on the political left to be afflicted with small hands.

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