Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Hydrogen Bombs Essay

I've thought long and hard about what I should throw out into the world for the first blog post of the year. I mean, this post needs to start off 2009 on the right foot - it needs to set the tone for the rest of the year ahead. Should it be something of great political import? Should it be a debunking piece about resolutions or predictions? Should it be a nostalgic montage about the past year? After much deliberation I finally realized none of those would do for The Missing Piece. I figure we've been together for a couple of months now so you're ready for whatever I have to throw at you. Well, here it is. I believe this next piece is exactly what the doctor ordered to ring in 2009 with a bang...The Hydrogen Bombs essay...

O.K. I can tell by the way you’re looking at me that you’re bored. ME TOO! It’s happened again. We’re bored. So of course like anyone else that’s bored I start thinking about what I can do to relieve my symptoms and help save the world. Naturally, like everyone else, this line of thinking leads to the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, a six-pack of Vaseline, a spatula, and a retarded midget named Lefty Shortpants with a hand-mixer. Just me?!? Well fine, how ‘bout something a little less interesting then, Killjoy?

How about some numbers? Numbers that affect every one of us in a very deep personal and meaningful way. No? O.K., then how ‘bout some random weirdness that falls out of my head? I thought so. Let’s see…We’ve done the cigarette polluters and organic milk. We’ve exposed the evil geniuses in the personal care industry and the less subtle lotto debacle. What should it be today? I’m thinking of something that is both unimaginably revolting and possibly the funniest thing on the planet. It’s been with us since our ancestors climbed out of the primordial ooze, or since Eve made Adam the first cream of artichoke and mushroom soup (depending on your beliefs). Literally everyone does it so let’s just clear the air today, so I can go on to solve other more pressing issues like how many pounds of hair humans grow per day or how much fuel is lost due to the extra mass of chewing gum stuck under airplane seats. Of course, I’m thinking about rectal flatulence (oh, like you weren’t)... breaking wind, crop dusting, backblast, morning thunder, cutting the cheese, stepping on a toad, cutting loose, air bubbles, gassers, stinkers, air biscuits, low-flying ducks, barking spiders, rotten eggs, wet ones, poots, bork, Chanel No.2, parp and biff, crepidus, crack-rattler, fannitosis, fartrogen dioxide, mudslappers, poopy tunes, etc.
Now stop laughing, this is serious. Hold on, all that sniggering made General Colon Bowel need to bark some orders…Whew…Back to the business of farts…Seriously, we’re never going to get anywhere if you keep snickering about a little tailwind. It’s a perfectly natural occurrence (with the notable exception of some of you…you know who you are).

So, more specifically, I wanted to calculate weather or not it is possible to asphyxiate yourself with your own ass traffic. A worthy cause, right? The life I save could be my own.

Shall we begin? The normal oxygen concentration in the atmosphere is about 21%. An area that has an oxygen concentration of 19.5% or lower is considered oxygen deficient and can lead to unconsciousness or death. Kind of reminds me of my dorm room already. Assume your bedroom is 10’ x 10’ x 8’ and hermetically sealed. That’s 800ft3 of gas of which 21% or 168ft3 is oxygen. You would have to add ~61.5ft3 of blanket bombs to the room to dilute the O2 to the pass-out range. This begs the questions: how much church-house creeper gas does an average person release per day and what is the average fecal cloud composed of?

To answer these questions properly let’s look at why we are prone to releasing the divine wind. The gas comes from a couple of sources: nitrogen is out-gassed from the blood, air is gulped when we wolf down our food or chew gum, fizzy drinks add some CO2, the rest (CO2, Methane, Hydrogen, Hydrogen sulfide) are produced by bacteria in our intestines. The bacteria break down complex carbohydrates and help us eek out some more nutritional value from
the junk we eat. If they have difficulty breaking down the carbs or fibers then they produce gaseous waste byproducts and ferment the bean and cheese burrito that you ate yesterday. Yummy! We are not born with these bugs, but as soon as we are born we start accumulating them from the environment that we are raised in. So blame your parents for the way that your bean bombers smell. Some foods are more prone to cause your fauna to freak out. How ‘bout a seven layer cabbage, onion, mushroom, cheese, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprout salad with buttermilk dressing, some whole grain bread, a side of 12 bean soup washed down with a six pack of wheat beer and a glass of milk? You’d better not smoke. And find another ride home, Man! Did you know that Pumpernickel means "goblin that breaks wind" in Old German? You do now. The sorbitol in diet foods like candy, chewing gum, and sugar-free garbage can’t be broken down by our digestive system either. Sounds about right. You’re eating “diet” food so you can lose weight so you don’t feel so crappy, but the junk you’re eating makes your ham slam sound like someone’s prying open a rusty gate…Nice.

And stay away from Gas-X and Beano. There are no studies that show that it helps. In fact it may actually add to the problem. They have some cool promo materials on their websites, though. My favorite is the windbreaker. Yep, a Gas-X windbreaker. Irony, Anyone? I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Don’t hold it in, either. Holding back your jetwash could be hazardous to your health. Those toxic gases that the bacteria are
creating will get reabsorbed into your bloodstream and could poison you. Worse than that, the fart-saturated blood travels to your lungs where it outgases. Ever met someone who’s breath smells like he just licked clean the toilet at a primate house. Forget floss…that dude needs to tear arse more often. And maybe an Altoid now and then wouldn’t kill him.

I won’t even get into the noise. It’s a little too creepy. Let’s just say that there is a scientific term called “High-Drama Flatus.” Awesome.

O.K. let’s quit farting around and get back on track. The average human hatches a thunder dumpling 10-14 times a day, mostly while sleeping. This liberates anywhere between 200-2000mL of gas. Average is 600mL of foulness per person per day. The gas mix is (in ascending order) nitrogen, CO2, hydrogen, oxygen, methane, and trace ororants. Only about one half of the population produces methane which is determined by the type of bugs you have in your guts. So don’t feel embarrassed if your blue darts aren’t so blue. Blame it on your bacteria. Back to the hermetically-sealed, stink-filled Hell that is your bedroom. 1ft3 of gas is ~28 liters. So in order to asphyxiate, you would have to release 1740 liters of horror on yourself. Even if you were an alcoholic, lactose intolerant, vegetarian on a diet with a chewing gum addiction it would take you ~3 years to build up that much gas. Even if there were 10 of you sleeping in there it would still take over 3 months, and by that time somebody would have gotten their ass beat.

In today’s political climate it is fitting to tie this all into global warming. Considering methane has 21 times the Global Warming Potential of CO2, each person in the US drops the total global warming equivalent of to .5kg of CO2 per year from their anus. That’s 167,000 tons of gassy goodness expelled each year in the US alone. It would take 1.4 million trees (taking up about 20 square miles) a year to “Neutralize” our output. That works out to be ~.002% of the US’s total carbon footprint. Not horrible, but still horrible, if you know what I mean. This got me thinking. If we’re such slobs, what about the gross cows that you guys eat? It turns out that they are actually a huge problem (in more ways than one).

The EPA calls it Livestock Enteric Fermentation, which is a polite way of saying cow burps and pig farts. Livestock in New Zealand account for 60% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock in Australia contribute approximately 14% of that country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Belches and farts from sheep, cows and other farm animals account for around 20% of global methane emissions. In the US, cow chunder is the source of 21% of all methane emissions, second only to landfills. That’s enough natural gas to run ~4 million houses for a year. Seriously, don’t get me started on cows.

So what have we learned? First of all, we’ve learned that a bored Dan is a dangerous Dan. Hopefully, we’ve also discovered that, weather your flabbergasters are silent and smell like freshly baked muffins or you let ripsnorters that sound like a machine gun going off at a ballgame and smell like dimethyl burnyourlipsoff, we have only our parents to blame…So give your partners a Dutch Oven for me, and let the voice of the toothless one be heard!

Thanks for your patience.


TJ said...

Would it be appropriate to leave a comment that read: "What an ass"?

Dan said...

I can't think of anything more appropriate.

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