Yesterday, two crows chased our resident Cooper’s hawk down the valley, where it turned and made a stand on a juniper. One crow took off, but the other lit also. It looked like the hawk had captured something the crow wanted. (No, we won’t think about what kind of critter it likely was.) After a fairly long stand-off, the crow finally gave up.

I found out yesterday that my blood pressure is high. Technically it’s on the high side of pre-hypertension, but for a person who’s always had pretty low readings, it was daunting.

It’s also totally hereditary and thus no surprise. My mom has been on high blood pressure medication for almost twenty years. She’s in otherwise excellent health and the medication works well for her.

So far as bad apples in the genetic gift basket, this one isn’t so bad.

Still I’m annoyed.

Oh, I have a list of things to do, to try to lower it naturally. I can increase my magnesium and Co-Q10 from what I’ve been taking. David has me adding Hawthorne berry extract. I’ve been working the weight and body fat down, but now I need to get serious about that last ten pounds. I might have to back off drinking wine, my very favorite thing.


Amusingly – or not – I’ve had the gas law, PV=nRT, on my list of blog topics for a while. That’s the formula that describes how pressure, volume and temperature interact. It’s a fascinating equation, really, because so much of our world, and our physiology, is governed by it.

Basically it says that Pressure multiplied by Volume equals Temperature. The n and the R describe molecular action, which is pretty stable for most purposes, so we can safely ignore it for most purposes. That makes the equation P*V=T. Or, to put it in a way that makes more intuitive sense by using that algebra you figured you’d never need, Pressure = T/V.

Thus, the hotter something is? The more pressure you have. Think of a pressure cooker. The more you raise the temperature, the more pressure inside the pot. Once you take off the lid, you increase the volume from a little pot to a great big room, and the pressure decreases.

There are more factors when you get into liquids, but the overall principle is the same. Body temperature is relatively steady, so blood pressure becomes largely a function of volume. As arteries narrow, for whatever reason – constriction due to stress or a wallpaper of fat – the volume available decreases and pressure goes up. That’s why diuretics, like my mom takes, work well. Reduce the volume of blood and there’s less pressure.

For whatever reasons, too, computer screen time is being linked to elevated blood pressure and there’s strong evidence for email apnea. So I’m resolving to decrease my screen time. And also to get up from my computer once an hour and breathe, walk, do the dishes or Tai Chi.

It’s not easy for me. I tend to sit for hours, concentrating on my work until the driving need to pee forces me out of my chair.

Yeah, I know – not healthy behavior.

But I’ll get better about it.

The Hardest Part

This Cooper’s Hawk landed on our bird feeder yesterday morning. One moment the finches, wrens, jericoes and quail were flocking about, happily pecking at seeds, the next they’d poofed and this guy appeared, as if manifesting full-blown from Zeus’s forehead.

Oh yeah, they eat mainly birds. Prowling the feeders seems a titch unfair, though I suppose we’re technically still feeding birds…

We’ve been working the last few days on setting up a new group blog, the Word-Whores. It’s Allison‘s baby and there will be seven of us altogether, which lets each of us blog on one day a week. This is a group of gals who are all some of my favorite people. We plan to launch on January 1, 2011. 1/1/11 – nice symmetry to that.

At any rate, we’ll all blog on a similar theme each week, so we wanted to come up with a year’s worth of topics. We each submitted at least eight ideas and then voted on the whole list. The top 52 became our year’s worth of topics.

It was really fun for me to see the results. (Hey – I like spreadsheets, okay?) Every suggested topic received at least one vote. Six topics received unanimous votes.

The one topic I really didn’t like got six votes, too. I was clearly the only person who didn’t like it. Marcella – whose sci fi comes out ONE WEEK FROM TODAY! – said that the one topic she didn’t like made the list, too. So then we spent some time talking about those topics and how we’d address them when it came time. By the end of the conversation, I had a good idea of what I’d write for mine. And I realized I spent more time thinking about the one topic I didn’t like, than all the rest put together.

There’s a lesson here somewhere. The same kind of lesson as joining a book group because you’ll read books you wouldn’t otherwise. Working with a group of people means you entertain ideas you normally wouldn’t. It forces you to turn your perspective and see the world from a slightly different angle.

And you know I always like that kind of thing.