Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A health progress report, to be followed shortly by a much longer post about math teaching, with a passing observation about jesting at scars by those who never felt wounds

Well, besides some flaring of the shingles, it was getting to be time to get taxes done, so this next installment is a couple of days past when I hoped to get it set up; I'll try to get back to doing them on Sunday nights next week. Life continues too busy, but this stuff may actually be important, so onward we go.
Several people have commented to me that they'd rather have shingles if it meant they didn't have to do taxes.  They appear to imagine that there is some parallel between the nuisance and pain of shingles and the nuisance and pain of taxes. Just to straighten this out for you: shingles is weeks of excruciating pain caused by a childhood disease virus that you can never entirely get rid of, (varicella zoster, which causes chicken pox), which hides in the dorsal ganglia (the nerve bodies that connect the spinal cord to the nerves that transmit feeling and sensation).  When something goes momentarily wrong in the immune system, or when the Immunity Fairy just decides she's mad at you, varicella zoster emerges and spreads outward along the nerves from one side of the spine. As it goes, it breaks through to the skin surface and leaves big nasty blistering welts (which are infectious for chicken pox, so I had to avoid the company of a number of children I like for a while. No, I didn't seek out the company of children I did not like). 
The blisters eventually break and dry, leaving a condition called "postherpetic neuralgia," which basically means things hurt as bad as they did when you had the rash.
Shingles has no identifiable benefits to anyone except the occasional varicella zoster that it gives a chance to reproduce.
Taxes, on the other hand, are a matter of sentencing oneself to a few very dull hours of filling out forms. The benefits include living in as close an approximation to a  civilized, decent society as our present right wing is unable to prevent.
 Along the lines of quoting myself, an evil habit writers eventually fall into: In A Million Open Doors, Giraut complains about his mandatory public service job, mucking out a dairy barn, and jumps at the chance to change it:
"Anything not to be moving that stuff around."
"Ha," Aimeric said.  "You are an administrative assistant to a government economist. You have not yet begun to move it around."
 "Anyone who can't see the difference between the literal and the figurative has never done the literal."
An observation: I have not heard the taxes-shingles comparison from anyone who has had shingles. Nor do I find it in my heart to wish them the educational experience. I find it more in my spleen, which I try to restrain, these days, mostly.