Gravity

Climate change was bad enough, but now I need to worry about gravity as well.

It’s getting stronger. A lot stronger.

About 35 years ago, the University of Minnesota advertised for people to help with an energy efficiency experiment. Because I can’t help myself, I volunteered.

We constructed a wall of solid concrete blocks, 8 feet high and 60 feet long, on the south side of a hog house. The blocks were dry stacked with a half inch space between them, then painted black and placed behind a wall of greenhouse plastic. The idea was the concrete blocks would absorb heat during the day and at night when the temperature went down, a fan would circulate ventilation air through them and heat the building.

It worked, sort of, but not well enough for the idea to be widely adopted.

The hog house is now my shop, and the concrete blocks are still there. I came up with the idea of making a little greenhouse, using those same blocks for a heat sink to extend the growing season.

This involves moving the blocks. And that’s where the gravity issue comes in. I first stacked them when I was thirty years old, and I don’t remember it being too much of a problem. Now, when I grab one of them, I realize that in the past 35 years the weight of concrete has doubled.

I’m not quite sure about the sciencey bits. My theory is all the lead and other heavy stuff in the earth’s crust has shifted so it’s right under me and it’s sucking me down.

Hey, it’s just physics, people. The lead is sucking me down.

And it’s not just the concrete blocks. When I bend down to pick something up off the floor, it takes at least twice as long for me to straighten back up to a more or less upright position. You know that move the hero does in movies – flat on his/her back and then flips upright? I could do that, except for the whole gravity thing.

I did some research. The blocks are 8 x 8 x 16. If my math is correct, they weigh 66 pounds. I don’t believe it. If I could, I’d carry one to the house and weigh it. But 66 pounds is impossible. There was a time in my life when I would carry a 50-pound bag of feed in each hand. Up until a few years ago, I carried 40-pound bags of softener salt into the basement two at a time. Now it’s one at a time, and I’m giving some thought to contacting the people who deliver and carry it in for you.

And then there’s the bodily noises. I don’t mean all noises can be attributed to gravity. When I turn my neck and hear the gravel in the gears, I know it’s not the fault of gravity. But when I’m sitting on a soft couch and struggle to my feet, the sounds that come out of my mouth are clearly the result of something beyond my control.

Sure, I admit that climate change is a big deal. Droughts, floods, heat waves, and a dozen other horrible outcomes - clearly a big deal.

But let’s have a little respect for gravitational increase, as well. At least the portion that’s under my feet.

Copyright 2021 Brent Olson