Hi Folks,

(Oh, maybe I should stop saying that, some folks on the west coast think I’m trying to be folksy, talking down, but that’s not really it. I’ll tell you what it is, even though that’s not what I started out to talk about. What it is is “levels of organization.” Everybody knows the entire universe is made up of levels of how things are organized together. Otherwise, the whole thing wouldn’t work. There is us, to begin. We are made of tissues that come together in a miraculous way; the tissues are made of living cells that come together in a miraculous way; the cells are made of molecules that come together in a really miraculous way to perpetuate life; the molecules are made of atoms that etc., etc. But we are not the top of the miraculous heap. Above us are populations, above that are ecosystems and I don’t care very much about the rest, but there are more. God maybe. The point is, the rules are different for every different level, so the discussions and explanations area different at different levels, and usually what I talk about is populations or ecosystems. But then there is us folks. So if I say “Hi Folks” I’m talking about people and not ecosystems.)

So I started out to tell you folks a true, people-level story.

Day before yesterday I was playing with the neighbor dog that had previously been playing with a (now deceased) skunk. The dog’s tooth scratched my finger. Skunks in this neighborhood often carry rabies.

First I went to talk to the neighbor to find out if the dog had its rabies shots. The neighbor was concerned about the dog.

Then I went to my vet to find out how long after a dog is bit by a skunk does the dog survive if it has rabies. The vet was concerned about the regulations that had been violated by not reporting the skunk.

Then I went to the doctor to find out if I have to go and disrupt the entire county — health service, animal control, medical reports — over a tiny scratch on my finger that happened 30 days after the skunk incident. The DOCTOR said: “Don’t worry about it the dog would have been dead in ten days if it had rabies.” So I stopped worrying about it.

And it’s really nice to know someone who can tell the difference between MY big picture and everyone else’s little pictures.

Of course, we still don’t know if I will die of rabies. Or swine flu. Or something else.
Photo by Mary Ann

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