Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Sack For My Nuts (or Why Peak Oil Is Bad For Your Scrotum)

Like many of you (no, not "many of you" in the sense that there are many of your reading this blog. "Many of you" in the sense of "many of you in the world") I spend a generous portion of my internet time reading sites with a "there may be trouble up ahead" flavor to them.

Editors note: I apologize for abusing the quotation mark only two sentences into this note. I tend to abuse parenthesis, ellipsis and quotation marks.

Much of the talk on these sites revolves around a potential future in which our current quality of life will be altered to varying degrees. Some portend of changes so drastic that the basic training list for prepartation includes "Mad Max". Others see changes that are less drastic, yet still profound (fuel prices out of reach of the poor, food rationing, etc.). Regardless of what the future holds for us, the thing that bothers me most is the fact that no one has written about the effect of this uncertain future on my scrotum. Yes, I know, I find it strange as well. The vacuum on this vital subject has forced my hand. I really can't allow it to go unaddressed any longer.

A couple days ago I went in for my second operation to remove a cyst from my sack. The growth itself is benign, but its effects are malignant. Imagine, gentlemen, somone inserting a swedish meatball in your pouch to keep the twins company. Sure, just like a real swedish meatball, it is interesting for all of ten minutes. After that, it is downright annoying. You can't walk properly, you can't lay down, you can sit, you can't do yoga, you can't walk around naked with your swim cap showing. All downside, no upside.

The first operation was successful, but I was warned that there was a good possibility it would recur. I find it interesting that we seem to know so much about how our pre-historic ancestors lived, what a dinosaur cared about, how to navigate craft into deep space and even how the U.S. economy works, but we don't know why a person grows a cyst or how to stop it. But, we do know how to remove it. I liked it so much the first time, I went back for seconds. I know, I'm a typical, greedy American.

Sitting down had become difficult enough, but after the operation, everything seemed to swell to super-hero proportions. What was once a light peach color was now a dark purple color. What was once smooth was now puffy. What once fit into my jeans now needed to purchase a separate seat when it travel by air. I think you'll all be happy to note that I've resisted the temptation to use the Vicodin (tm) they prescribed. I'm sure it is swell (no pun intended), but my personality is one that would quickly grow fond of such a thing. So, I sit and wait for things to settle down on their own.

This morning I awoke to find the old boy still looking a bit puffy. I clawed my way out of bed without asking my wife to give me a push (I'm just macho that way) and walked to the freezer like a cowpoke at the end of the Chisholm Trail. I needed two cool packs or ice bags to adequately cover my real estate (no, I'm not bragging and there is certainly not that kind of acreage down there, it is just a logistic thing) so I began to process the soothing solids when a thought came to me: When all this Peak Oil/Global Warming/Housing Bubble/Water Shortage/Population Explosion/Terrorist Induced/End Times horror comes down the pike, what will I do to benefit my burning balls? I mean, this is likely to happen again, so what will one do? I make ice with electricity. I use plastic bags made from petroleum. I drive to the hospital 15 miles away in a car that uses gas. I guess I could go stand in the creek a half mile from my house, but then I'd have to be sure to time the operation for the summer. I'd have to wrap my package in a... a... package so as to prevent infection. And I swear, I didn't write this in response to the recent entry in "The Archdruid Report" on public health decline in these challenging times, although it is a nice piece.

Seriously, what will I do in the future when I require procedures such as this? Will ice be a luxury? Will plastic bags be illegal? Will I have to buy blue-gel cool packs in back alleys?

Or, let's take a different approach: Would I have had these blue gel cool packs in my freezer if I were a person who lived a sustainable life? Now, let me be very, very clear here: I am a person who wants to live a sustainable life. My wife and I are really trying to keep the footprint smaller than it has been. I've driven the same four-cylinder car for over 13 years (238,000 miles and climbing). We even had our home evaluated for solar panels (we decided to go with new windows: cheaper and saved a LOT of energy). I'm plotting out how I can ride my bike to work next year (it is a long trip, but might be worth it). Sure, these are all typical, white, middle-class things to do when you are guilty about global warming, but I am really trying in my pathetic way.

As I reached for one (of many) of those blue gel cool packs I have stacked in one of my two freezers, the full force of my lifestyle hit me. I had the luxury of using one of those packs and then putting it back into the freezer in exchange for one of its colder compatriots. This is my lifestyle. No, I wasn't guilty. But I was very, very grateful. By Tuesday or Wednesday, I'll be healed up enough to drive to the doctor and let him have a look. The purple will be giving way to red, which will give way to pink, which will give way to peach. At that point, all of this will one of many repressed memories stockpiled in my psyche like so many dehydrated potatoes and firearms in a Montana bunker.

When the "event" we anticipate occurs, how will this affect my scrotum? Sure, those blue-gel cooling packs will last another year or two, but what will be done after that? Will I be able to (or should I even) buy plastic bags for my bag? Will there be enough affordable energy for me to make ice cubes for my cubes? Will I be able to drive to the hospital? Will I have a job or healthcare? Should I buy larger undies and just live with the extra chap in the sack? Should I just learn to whistle the "Three's Company" theme while dressing in the morning? Should I just stop being so civilized and soft and just learn to live what nature provides? Does using technology make me a bad person? Does anyone really eat and enjoy Vegemite(tm)?

Ultimately, these choices will be made for me and the questions they spawn will be answered. I can't see into the future and I can't stop it. It is easy to talk of victory gardens, bicycling, rain barrels and community support. It is all well and good to go on about hybrids, localization, energy policy and sustainability. But when it comes to a guy's bag, we have to be realistic.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey man,

If you need ice in the future, from what I understand is that you can crank a stirling engine by hand to cool water and even create ice.

November 20, 2006 2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Admittedly, it is a bit extreme, but in the event of a crash, you could always just tie a string around the family jewels. You'd be guaranteed the cyst wouldn't grow back. ;-)

I know what you mean, though. As much as I despise modern medicine for the more harm than good it does, I can't help wondering about all pre-civ people with toothaches, bladder infections (that subsequently became kidney infections and killed them), poor eyesight, etc.

Although I suspect that lots of things didn't occur to pre-civ humans b/c natural selection weeded them out. Modern medicine keeps everyone alive (and I mean EVERYONE), so we have people on meds for chronic diseases in record numbers. I imagine pre-civ humans were a healthier lot.

And who knows, maybe your cyst developed due to some additive in the food, or some pollution spewed into the air, and is therefore a product of civilization.

November 26, 2006 2:08 PM  

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