Elevation, Dock Diving, and The Guns of November

I haven’t posted in a while (almost two months).  Sometimes life just gets away from you.

Rather than a series of posts, I thought I’d comment on a few things in one post – forcing a relative economy of words, rather than being long-winded on each topic.


Every trip I’ve made to the Rocky Mountains – except my latest trip – was by driving. I never thought about it, but even a trip of 2-3 days allowed time for acclimatization.

However, this past September, we flew from Seattle (sea level) to Bozeman Montana (4,800 feet).

I had had problems in the previous month – my diet went to Hell (salt) and I was slightly dehydrated; combined they led to fluid gain. It’s a problem when you have a heart condition like I do.

I should have gone to the hospital for what I call dewatering, but thought it would prevent a needed vacation – Terri and I hadn’t really been anywhere since before COVID.

Thinking I’d tough it out, we went on vacation. Landing in Bozeman I should have seen what was coming – I had to stop for a breath while walking up the ramp from the airplane to the terminal. That was followed by two days of being very tired and breathless.

I was feeling better by the third day; we went on a walk over at Three Forks that was easy and pleasant.

However, the next day we drove to Yellowstone National Park.  We drove over Dunraven Pass (8,800 feet) and I was definitely uncomfortable. Going to the rest room at Canyon Village (7,800 feet) was fatiguing requiring pauses and sitting on a bench afterward.

Even driving down to West Yellowstone (6,700 feet) wasn’t enough to relieve symptoms. At that point, we made the decision we’d fly back a day early.  We did, and then I spent 10 days in the hospital once we got back to Gig Harbor – nothing more need be said about that.

I guess it doesn’t take heart disease to suffer from acute mountain sickness.

A kind desk clerk in Butte on our last night in Montana admitted that when he flew into Butte to begin his job, he spent two days sick in bed adjusting to the altitude.

Dock Diving

Terri has been working with our youngest dog, Henry in the competitive sport of dock diving since last year.

Dock diving is an event where dogs accelerate down a runway and leap at a frisbee or other toy tossed by the handler who stands at the edge of the dock, which stands two feet above the water level. The dogs land in a four-foot-deep pool with the distance from the dock to where the base of the dogs’ tail hits the water.

Henry has taken to the sport and has gotten good enough that he was invited to last week’s 2023 Nationals in Springfield Missouri. The rules are complicated in terms of class (distance range) and for a number of reasons he was jumping in a class above his natural range (23-24 feet) so they both came home happy but without medals.

Two asides.

The longest dock diving jump was by a whippet this past June – 36 feet, 11 inches.

Henry was complimented by the owner of a champion jumper by saying he had the best form of any dog competing this year (see below). The slow-motion beginning of the video was intended to show Henry’s form accelerating down the runway.


The Guns of November

I fear we are at the precipice of a war, with the conflict between Hamas and Israel, that will bring the US, China, and Russia into direct conflict.

While the Russian conflict with NATO and Ukraine had the potential for conflict between nuclear-armed states, it seemed to me that barring a serious miscalculation (which, while always possible, is  remote – particularly now) that wasn’t likely. Neither the United States or Russia wanted to destroy each other and themselves over Ukraine.

The situation is far different in the Mideast.

Two volatile components of this conflict are oil and religion. Either alone would be enough to cause major concern for a regional war; together they are terrifying in terms of the potential for a global war.

These are complex issues – far too complex to easily absorb or explain; I can do neither.

I only can compare the situation to the events of June to August 1914 – culminating in the so-called Guns of August.

The assassination of a relatively unimportant Austro-Hungarian duke and his wife in the Balkans, a region with a long history of violence, was the spark that led to the deaths of 17 million people.

The causes were many: diplomatic breakdowns and deliberate miscommunications by a French ambassador to Russia; the bellicose nature of German foreign policy;  and full mobilization by all countries that failed to appreciate that German mobilization automatically led to the start of conflict.

While the location, history, and other circumstances are different, elements of the road to war in that summer of 1914 essentially exist again today.

There’s still debate among historians, over 100 years later, about the causes of WWI and if it could have been prevented.

This time, the way it could be stopped is relatively straightforward.

All it would take is for the US to say “No” to Israel – there are diplomatic, legal, financial, and military means to do so.

Unfortunately the role of the Israeli lobby, the defense industry, and the neocons precludes any such move to bring peace.

How many millions of deaths will follow?


Author: Tom

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