Season Extended

on Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Biochemistry may be considered to be the scientific study of the chemistry of life. However, my biochemistry professor used to say that, "The more one studies biochemistry, the more one asks, not how is it we are alive but why aren't we dead." By this he meant that the further we probe into the complex interactions that keep us alive, the wonder of life is replaced by the amazement that something has not already gone wrong.

Indeed, to stay alive, some two million different proteins must be functioning properly. These proteins consist of chains of amino acids in a specific sequence that can be as short as 51 units (insulin) or as long as 26,926 (connectin). Now consider that in many of those two million proteins, a single amino acid in the wrong place in the sequence may be enough to kill you. On top of that, the level of these proteins must also be just right in relation to each other. To try to understand this, try picturing that you have to type words consisting of between 51 and 26,926 letters each in an exact sequence and then make sure that you type these words an exact number of times which is specific for each of the two million different words. And now try to imagine that you have to keep typing this with close to 100% accuracy again and again or it is game over!

Okay, enough with the science lesson. The point that I am trying to make is that it is a miracle that we are alive and a miracle that we stay alive and that is just from the aspect of our body function. Next we have to consider that we live in a dangerous world full of myriads of possible threats. Life could be snuffed out by natural phenomena, illness, contact with dangerous plants and animals, machinery, other humans etc........ Again, I think we ought to be thankful we are still alive.

In my last post, I kind of joked about being a Star Trek Redshirt (i.e. he who gets killed off in the very first episode). I must say that I am thankful that I have made it to my 47th year. There have been occasions that my season could have ended but God has chosen to extend my contract. I don't know why He has done so but I know He has set my Guardian Angel to protect me thus far. Sometimes, my own stupidity has kept my Guardian Angel busy.

Below are just some of the incidents that I remember which we may call my near death experiences or perhaps preferably, my life extention experiences.

1. The Glass Guilotine. When I was a toddler, I apparently smashed my hand through a pane glass door and a sheet of glass came crashing down that could have taken my head off but I escaped with a badly cut finger and a scar today to show for it.

2. The Rotting Gut. I had a bad stomach pain when I was 11 years old. I went to hospital for observation but the pain disappeared overnight. The doctor came in the morning and decided to discharge me, However, despite my best effort to get out of there like the wind, a more senior doctor came and decided that I should have some exploratory surgery. I protested that I was well but he insisted. He operated and saved me from a perforated appendix.

3. The Rock Landing. When I was about 12, I went for a school picnic at the foot of a dam. All of us were excited when the bus dropped us at the top of a small valley. To get to the bottom where we could picnic and swim, we had to negotiate a slope of about 30-40 degrees consisting of loose rocks. Overgrowing the rocks were some jungle creepers. In my enthusiasm, I grabbed hold of a couple of food hampers and made my way down. The hampers were not heavy but they were bulky and they inhibited my line of sight so that as I was making my way down, I caught my foot on a creeper vine and went flying into the air. I feared the worse. Yet, despite falling a vertical distance of more than twenty feet, I landed on my feet in the loose rocks, kept my balance, suffered no injury and even managed to catch my two food hampers. I think my Guardian Angel was particularly alert that day.

4. The Bicycle Incident. When I was 14, I stayed away from home for a month with family friends in the boondocks and I enjoyed the freedom and new experiences. I eventually became a very good bicycle rider but that was not so at the beginning. At the beginning, I was an idiot and a klutz. One early trip, I decided to cycle to a nearby village post office to mail some letters. The bicycle I used had a basket in the front and I placed my letters there. Before long, I was cycling along a pothole ridden single lane road that led to the village. Despite being a small country road, the vehicular traffic was heavy and often recklessly fast. I was happily cycling along when it all happened in a flash. The bicycle hit a pothole; the letters flew up and one fell out; without thinking, I bent into the traffic and grabbed at the letter. Next thing I heard was a loud horn and I felt the rush of a car passing less than an inch from my head.

5. The Gang Standoff. When I was 16, I regularly played basketball at my school which had two basketball courts side by side. One Saturday, as we were playing (and you could consider my gang of 10 to be mostly skinny nerds), we were suddenly approached by a gang of 10 ruffians. They were looking for a fight. They started pushing and intimidating us and nothing we said could placate them. Things got worse by the minute as some of them picked up long metal pipes from a nearby construction site. Others showed us that they were armed with hunting knives. Honestly, all I could do was pray and wait for the pain to start. Then at almost the point of no return, a well respected atheletic school prefect came by and at great risk to himself, intervened. So instead of fighting, we played each other in a rough and tough basketball game. We lost the game but won some respect from the other gang and parted on better terms. However, it could have been so easily been quite bloody.

This post is already too long and I haven't even told you how I survived beyond my teen years. I will have to continue in the next post. However, I would very much like to hear how you, dear readers, are survivors. I am sure you have similar or even more interesting stories of your own life extension experiences.


Jelica said...

You made me laugh a lot with your post, it's great :)

I can think of only one surviving experience (I guess I'm extremely risk-averse) which happened when I was eight. My younger sister was on the toilet when she realized there was no toilet paper. I went to the kitchen to get some napkins from a cupboard right above the stove. I considered climbing a chair to open the cupboard but decided to try to reach out and the moment I opened it the whole cupboard came crushing down, with all the glasses and plates in it. It brushed against my forehead and nose and I still have a small scar, but otherwise I was fine, if a little disoriented. It would have been sad to die because of toilet paper...

Dr.John said...

I am amazed you survived long enough to write about surviving.

kat said...

you are a miracle!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Your story had me on the edge of my seat. I thought, "Oh no! She's going to fall on a hot stove!" But what happened was sufficiently dramatic and yes, it would have been sad to die because of toilet paper! :)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Dr. John,
Surely you had similar escapades? Or am I really the lucky klutz?

Well, it does make me thankful I am still around and survived my youthful antics.

the walking man said...

That's a very interesting set of survivals for me, I live in Detroit. 'nuff said.

Joyce's Ramblings said...

Ah, the stories we can tell, the folly of youth.
Cracking my head while climbing over a chair. I hit the radiator and had to go to the hospital for stitches.
Getting hit by a car. Getting three fingers caught in the electric beater. Had to go to get my fingers out.
Falling down a flight of stairs and landing on my chin.
That ended with me having a broken jaw.
Sometimes we all wonder while we are still here, but we know we are protected and God will decide when we go.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I am 1000% positive that you have survived far worse. I am sure God had a good reason. May you blaze long and bright and light up the darkness in Detroit.

You've been keeping your Guardian angel busy too! That's good to keep them on their toes! :)

Owen said...

Dear Lone Grey Tree Climbing Nut Eater,
I saw your comment on "A Majority of Two" interpreting her dream from a squirrel's point of view, and could not resist dropping by to take a look here to see what happily demented mind could be behind such a refreshing take on things... and you certainly do not disappoint !

I would be more than honored to become an honorary squirrel follower, if you would allow me to sit at the base of your tree and contemplate your squirrely antics. I sense that the reason your cheeks are puffed out is not because they are stuffed full of nuts you are going to stow for winter, but because there is a great deal of tongue in cheek going on around your tree ?!? ;-D

My father was an anatomy professor, so I enjoyed immensely your take on amino acids and the miracle of being able to continue living, as I was subjected while growing up to having to look at glossy photos of microscopic views of our intestines at the dinner table... we are a race of hardy bastards unfortunately, which is why we have bred faster even than your mammal cousin the rabbit, and are busy cutting down so many of the trees that you squirrels need to live in.

And some of us do seem to survive more than our fair share of accidents... I won't go into details, as it would no doubt bore you half to death, and I'm sure you have some nuts to gather, and some lady squirrels to chase, so no, I won't elaborate on the four major car wrecks I survived from age 19 to age 28, or the parachute accident where I was tangled up in the parachute of another jumper 1500 feet up in the air, or the appendicitis that became infected after the operation, or the crowbar that nearly impaled me in the garden one day (poem about that on my page somewhere way back), or the clouds of radioactive gases from Three Mile Island and later Chernobyl which headed my way, but which were miraculously diverted by divine winds at the last second, or the narrowly missed flood in Havasu canyon last summer, and so on and so forth...

Oh dear, I did not mean to ramble so much, your squirrel highness...

It would be an extreme privilege also if your most honored squirrelly being could help me to understand the underlying and hidden motivations that push me compulsively to photograph the subjects which are open to all squirrel visitors in the pages of the Magic Lantern Show. Please feel free to drop by, and don't hesitate to bring any other forest friends with you, badgers, hedgehogs, raccoons, beavers, armadillos, you are all welcome. I will even put out a bowl of tasty walnuts for you... beside the welcome mat...

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I am glad that my happily demented mind did not disappoint. I am what I eat ...which is nuts. Speaking of which, you are one tough nut yourself having survived all that. I went over to the Magic Lantern Show and you can expect me to be a regular visitor.

Steve said...

Wow. I am here on Owen's recommendation - he of the Magic Lantern Show fame. He said I would not be disappointed. And indeed I am not. What a miracle is life! The only near death experiences I have had have both involved me on my bike encountering motorists who were more concerned with their own endeavours than my survival. A car door opened into my legs sent me sprawling across the macadam... thankfully there was no vehicle hot on my tail. The next incident involved a motorist pulling out on me when I had right of way and I neatly arrested my forward momentum by kissing his bonnet. I haven't ridden a bicycle for years now. My guardian angel has taken up pipe smoking and slipper wearing...

Anonymous said...

Hello there!

Owen said to come here. I saw him on Steve's here I am.

Nice post! Nothing better than almost dying...been there a few times.

Most fun...I was 4 years old and trying to ride my trycicle down a flight of stairs in a two story building...yep...I screamed pretty good. Lucky enough, I was thrown off of it and voila...I lived to see another day.

Nice blog you have here and I'll stop by and see you often!

Sweet Cheeks~

Anonymous said...

Hello there!

Owen said to come here. I saw him on Steve's here I am.

Nice post! Nothing better than almost dying...been there a few times.

Most fun...I was 4 years old and trying to ride my trycicle down a flight of stairs in a two story building...yep...I screamed pretty good. Lucky enough, I was thrown off of it and voila...I lived to see another day.

Nice blog you have here and I'll stop by and see you often!

Sweet Cheeks~

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment. Cycling is great fun if only the other road users stay out of our way! I am sure your Guardian Angel is glad that he's now got a more cushy job now.

Sweet Cheeks,
Haha! You must have been quite the 4 year old daredevil! I imagine your mom must have aged a few years from that antic. Thanks for coming by and visiting my cluttered thoughts and hope to see you here again.

Owen said...

Dear Lone Grey,
I'm happy to see a couple of folks dropping by bearing nuts... I'm going to keep broadcasting that there is one very hungry squirrel over here that is demanding food ! And must be satisfied, for the squirrels wrath is no doubt fearsome.

It is odd, we don't have many squirrels in France, almost never see one, so I don't think much about all your relatives, as I used to in Pennsylvania where there is an abundance of squirrels, but just this morning on a fellow blogger's blog that I follow closely, she put up a story about two very naughty squirrels who broke her new birdfeeder... Do you know anything about that ???!!! Can you account for your whereabouts yesterday ??? I told her about you... if you want to see the broken feeder :

Hmm, there are squirrels in the air... which makes me think, in south east Asia there are flying squirrels, right? Do you have any flying squirrel blood in you? Maybe you flew to Pennsylvania to do that birdfeeder job??? :-D

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Hi Owen,
Thanks for directing people to my humble blog. It is always good to meet people which is one of the reasons for blogging.

Funny that you should ask if I was responsible for the broken birdfeeder. It is a common mistake on account of the fact that to you humans, all squirrels look alike but I in fact covered this in a post which I entitled "Wasn't me".

Finally Malaysia does have flying squirrels but we are trying to keep our carbon footprint down and would never fly all the way to USA just to raid a feeder. We have a clear understanding that the whole eastern seaboard is under the Atlanta Squirrel Clan, see?

Laurie said...

Owen of the Magic Lantern Show said I should send you my squirrel joke - not sure why?


Why does a squirrel swim on its back?

Answer: To keep its nuts dry.

Best wishes

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thank you for the squirrel joke. I've never actually seen a squirrel swim so I can't really comment. Otters I do know, swim on their backs while they feed. Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment ....always a pleasure to see them.

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