Crash Boom BANG

January 19, 2011

Not only is it finally winter again here in Bozeman, it was sunny today, I built snowforts all afternoon and after work I got to go on a long classic ski. Life is great.

Except something is out of whack.

During my ski I fell not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. These weren’t simple oops-I-lost-my-balance-I-better-sit-this-one-out falls. These were yard sales, if you can have yard sales with non-ejectable bindings. These were animated-slow-motion-flying-appendages falls.

What could be out of whack?

Humans have multiple sensory and muscular systems working to keep our balance in check. The main organ for this gargantuan task: the inner ear. Two small sacs in the inner ear are filled with sensory receptors and small crystals in a gel. When we move our heads, the crystals slide from one side to the other and the receptors tell our brains the relative position of our heads. Another section of the inner ear, called the semicircular canals, helps us figure out when we rotate our heads. The canals are partially filled with fluid and are at right angles with each other. When we turn our heads, the fluid bends another gel filled sac and receptors in the sac send more messages to the brain.

Why is it so important for us to know where are heads are located? They are always connected to the neck unless we find ourselves beneath the guillotine. The reason is that we can’t see our heads to know where the all important brain protector is or what it is doing. Thats why we need the inner ear.

The other main organ for balance is the eye. Our eyes can see almost all of our bodies, beside, of course our heads so they send messages to the brain telling it where Mr. Left Thumb and Ms. Right Calf are and what they are doing. Finally, proprioreceptors in our muscles and tendons tell the brain how stretched or relaxed the various parts of our bodies are at a given time.

So what happened to my balance today?

My inner ear could have been a little clogged, my eyes a little dull or my balance muscles a little fatigued. Personally, I am going to chalk it all up to snow snakes. They must have come out in celebration of the new snow.

The eepy creepy and evil "Serpentia nieve"

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