The creeping competence collapse

I went to the movies yesterday with my six-year-old and a couple of his friends. It was one of those theaters where you order concessions through a server at your seat. As promised, I bought my son an unremarkable bucket of popcorn. The popcorn cost $15 (runaway inflation), and after falling asleep for an hour, I awoke to find that the popcorn had yet to arrive (services crash).

The experience reminded me of a tweet I saw recently. The original poster wrote something to the effect that our leaders are incompetent and mentally unwell; systems are starting to fail. The poster also asked his followers: What signs are you seeing in your life that the world is transitioning into something more rough and unpleasant?

His audience replied with things like:

• A generation of teenagers are going completely apeshit at school, destroying property and frequently assaulting teachers, each other, and school resource officers
• There are dwindling choices of meat at the supermarket deli
• Social circles are expressing an uptick of interest in rural plots of land, MMA combat skills, and homesteading (a lifestyle of self-sufficiency)

I have a couple observations of my own from a health perspective.

I have added blood donation to my health routine over the past couple years. The only way men can dump excess iron, a potent risk factor for heart disease, is to go into battle or give blood. Although the phlebotomists at every visit compliment me on my gym-thickened veins, at my last session they just couldn’t get it right. My phlebotomist was unhappy about the rate my blood was flowing into the bag, so she and another staff member stood over me to assess. They determined that when the phlebotomist was inserting the needle, she had missed my vein — the vascular equivalent of the broad side of a barn. Whatever blood was coming out of my arm was filling the bag too slowly to be used for donation, and they discarded it. I couldn’t even get a straight answer about whether I had lost enough blood to consider this session a therapeutic phlebotomy.

This visit was my first misfire after four uneventful donations — which yields an error rate of one in every five sessions.

Another health upgrade I’ve been enjoying is my newfound source of raw dairy, from a farm in southeast Pennsylvania. The farm’s online catalog reads like a health enthusiast’s wish list:

• Raw milk (A2A2 cow/goat/sheep)
• Raw dairy including kefir, yogurt, butter, and cheese
• Organic fermented vegetables

I was particularly pleased to discover the fermented vegetables after recently completing a round of antibiotics (my son got everybody sick with strep throat). I bought kimchi and fermented ginger carrots, top sources of probiotics, to repopulate the good bacteria in my gut. Fermented foods are terrific for your gut biome — provided the produce (or milk used to make kefir) is organic. If a farm hoses down the cabbage in your sauerkraut with glyphosate, this broad spectrum herbicide will kill off the good bacteria in your gut as fast as you add them back in.

In any event, I’ve been ordering directly from this farm a couple times a month since the start of the summer. The farm ships once per week, and last Thursday was supposed to be my next delivery. I was pumped and psyched. Sadly, the UPS time of estimated delivery passed, and I got an update from UPS that the package was damaged and all merchandise had been discarded.

I was able to secure a refund and all that, but I had planned my meals for the week around receiving a big box of premium food. I don’t know if the problem was the farm’s packaging or UPS’ handing. Regardless, this shipment was the first misfire after four uneventful orders, yielding an error rate of 1-in-5.

One current Bro Science theme is that health extremists [raising my hand] will fare no better than people who adopt a more relaxed 80/20 lifestyle. The claim is that extremists will add zero years to their lifespan and age the same compared to people who strive for only 80 percent clean living, 20 percent whatever. But here’s the thing. I aim for the stars, yet the creeping competence collapse is already handing me frustration at a rate of 1-in-5. If I were to lower my standards to 80 percent, in our new reality I would actually end up with something far less.

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