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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

True Irony -- Crampons and Dog Livers

 Since I seem to be taking an extended course in learning how to survive in case I somehow find myself being a part of a team of unfortunates struggling to trek out of the unbelievable winds, snows, ice, low temps, crevasses, and the many other constant indignities of lower Antarctica, the main thing I have learned is never, never, never for any reason throw away your crampons --  sets of metal teeth that you attach to your boots to give you traction when you are crossing glaciers or climbing mountains.

Also, should you see a sledge loaded with most of your human food and all the dog food, plus your best tent, your warmest clothing, and all kinds of other invaluable things, disappear down an extremely deep crevasse along with all the strongest sled dogs and also a human member of your party -- which happened with a small party of Australians in Antarctica in 1912, as described in "Mawson's Will," a book not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach, written by Lennard Bickel -- do not on any account eat the livers of the dogs that you have left, no matter how hungry you get.

The long survivor of that experience, plus the one man left with him, did just that.   They were happy to get those livers -- and as a result they ended up having to deal with large parts of their fleshly substance simply disintegrating and falling off their bodies, and they never knew why.   They were a few years too early to have heard of Vitamin A and how, though dog livers are rich in it, even just a little of it causes all sorts of disruptions in the work of other vitamins in keeping a person going.

That was true irony.  They thought that with all that fresh air and exercise they were getting out there on the glaciers, they were doing the most resourceful thing, in the face of having nothing much else to eat during the trek of a hundred miles or more they were having to make before reaching any sort of rescue.  One didn't make it, as a result of getting all that vitamin A.   The other lived years longer, while blaming that dire disorder on everything except what had really tried to kill them more painfully and quickly than anything that that worst weather in the world could throw at them.


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