I Looked In The Toilet Bowl And It All Made Sense So What Do Tennis And Cycling Have In Common?


There are still old knots that are unrecorded, and so long as there are new purposes for rope, there will always be new knots to discover.

From ‘The Ashley Book Of Knots,’ cited in Chapter 39 of ‘The Shipping News‘ by Annie Proulx.

Hi folks,

Venus passing in front of the sun, photo, FitOldDog amazed,

Venus, similar in size to our Earth, is passing briefly in between us and our Sun, appearing as a little black circle.

Years ago I read an interesting book by John Horgan, entitled ‘The End Of Science,’ which I thought at the time must have been written with tongue in cheek. I’ve heard that story before, and it makes no sense to me, but I still enjoyed the book. I suspect that there is no end to new learnings and new discoveries, especially as we have only scratched the surface of this tiny rock. That reminds me, did you see Venus passing in front of the Sun the other day? This, not to be repeated for 100 years, event demonstrates how really tiny we are, because the sun is tiny, and our galaxy is tiny, and maybe even the Universe is tiny on some scale unknown to us. Yes, lots of new things to learn, which I think makes our life really worth it’s ephemeral window in time.

bubble in toilet, science, FitOldDog's epiphany,

I looked in the toilet and it all made sense as a saw a bubble floating along, and it’s shadow on the bowl below was moving more quickly, just like my observations in the mucociliary apparatus at work (not that it ever felt like work!).

As a scientist for 40 years, I was always trying to figure things out or make sense of them. The things I struggled with were probably tiny on an intellectual scale, but what fun. For instance, I was fortunate to be able to study the mucociliary apparatus for years, in my job at The Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology (great place, but now defunct, sadly) in the Research Triangle Park, NC, USA. I never tired of watching our videos and admiring the beauty of this remarkable biological machine that keeps us alive everyday, whilst trying to figure out how it works. During these studies I noticed that there were shiny objects that moved with the mucociliary blanket (see our movie for details), and darker structures that sped along beneath them, overtaking them, and disappearing. I wondered what they were, until one day, whilst ‘taking a pee,’ I noticed the same phenomenon in the toilet bowl. Bubbles on the surface of the water in the bowl projected a dark shadow below, which moved more quickly (simple geometry!) beneath their respective bubble.

I realized that at work I was observing the shadows of particles in the mucus blanket being projected onto the epithelium below. This is the stuff of science – don’t forget, Einstein came up with his remarkable theories by imagining light beams in elevators and sitting on light beams. I won’t get the Nobel Prize for my observation, but I am sure that I was as happy with my conclusion as the great Einstein was with his (he seemed happy, anyway). That’s real science, the wonder and joy of discovery, the rest is about paying the light bill or satisfying your ego, whichever you prefer. This brings me to tennis-induced forearm and wrist injuries. Such wrist injuries appear to be very common, as based upon my blog traffic where questions about tennis forearm injury and tennis-induced wrist strains come in via such keywords daily, as they zero in on my first article on the subject.

blog stats, tennis injury, FitOldDog's blog,

Jetpack seven-day statistics for this blog showing high hit rate for tennis-induced wrist problems.

And what has this to do with cycling? The answer, or one answer at least, is the death grip or excessive tension. As a neophyte cyclist, I was always feeling strain in my wrists and forearms, especially after long rides on bumpy roads. Once I mastered the art of holding the handlebars loosely, letting them jump about as need be, but holding more firmly when necessary for my stability (this becomes a reflex), my forearm and wrist problems disappeared. I suspect that this is equally true of tennis, in that excessive tension combined with forearm weakness probably accounts for the lion’s share of these injuries.


-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.