Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Roll, Not the Rock

I know there's stuff going on with Obamacare and the CR to continue to fund the government, but frankly, I need a break writing about that right now

So a there's this study that basically indicates that sea sickness may be all about posture and sway (H/T NY Times Blog via Instapundit). I found this interesting as I am one of those that are mildly effected by sea sickness.  I recall the first time I got sea sick, which was coincidentally my very first 'sea journey'. Upon my completion of advanced training in the Army, but before my deployment overseas to Alaska - yes Alaska was considered an overseas assignment - I took a vacation with my brother to Hawaii. While there, we decided to give deep sea fishing a try. Now you have to understand that we had both been fishing all our lives. In fact we were cohorts in the 'fish shooting incident' which I will wait to write about until I am sure that the statute of limitations has expired. Deep sea fishing was an area we had not tried. The lure of catching a really big fish was just too big a temptation for us.

In any case, we thought that it would be a great idea the go out on one of the charters from Honolulu. Those things started early, so on the way to the boat, we walked by Burger King and got a couple of (greasy) breakfast croissants. At first it was cool being out on a small boat in the 'real' ocean. The fun of course ended as soon as the shore disappeared. It was a solid hurl fest for both of us. After a bit my stomach settled down and I was able to fish. I caught a nicely sized dauphin (not the mammal dolphin) which we gave the crew upon our return. Sadly my brother remained out of it for the whole adventure. I will admit, even to this day I will not eat Burger King croissant breakfast sandwiches.

My next memorable encounter came when I was working on a navigation system for the Osprey class Navy mine hunters. I had learned my lesson from subsequent fishing forays and knew enough to take the Dramamine early and often. It was a fine balance to keep enough meds in me to avoid getting sick, but not so much that it made me too woozy to do my job. That all worked fine until on one trip we met up with a fairly stiff storm. Those ships had a tendency to roll even in the mildest of seas, and in a good blow, they were quite frankly awful. It was so bad that I think less than 25% of the crew were able to stand at their post. I somehow managed to be one of the barely walking non-hurlers, but until things calmed down, it was a miserable experience. What made it even worse was the night of the storm was scheduled to be one of the quarterly meals where the ship served lobster. With the weather, they turned out to be disgusting overcooked rubbery messes that no one could eat anyway. That was a real tragedy.

Having said all that, the above study's assertion about 'learning' and 'stance' does make a bit of sense. I suspect that there might be some strategy to countering the roll of the ship so the inner ear matches the visual in such a way as to get a close enough match. Once this pattern is established, no more seasickness. Such a skill is probably pretty hard to 'teach', and in the thousands of years, there has been apparently no new ideas about how to do it. Thus, any progress the researchers might come up with to overcome it would be spectacular. I will note that at the time of the Osprey work, I was just starting to get interested in pressure points. There are a couple of points on the wrist and ear that seem to do some people some good. This was fairly new information back then, but now days I believe that it is well known.

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