Knowledge Reduces Suffering
It’s a Trap!
On my first day in the “field” as a PhD student, my advisor and I pulled up to Camp Classen, a YMCA camp in the rolling Arbuckle Mountains of south central Oklahoma. We were there scouting juniper trees, the subject of my dissertation. It was a warm and sunny early December afternoon, and although the leaves had fallen from the oak trees, I marveled at the beauty of this quiet little camp. There were horses, a pond, rustic cabins and thick woods. I was visiting the site because I was about to spend four years studying juniper pollen in the Arbuckle Mountains and the Texas Hill Country.
My veteran-of-airborne-allergen-professor glanced over at me and in her ephemeral Bostonian said, “D’you just sneeze? Don’t tell me you’re allergic to juniper pollen!”
I was. Massively, hopelessly, allergic. My four years as a grad student at the University of Tulsa were tremendously rewarding and just downright fun. But there was a lot of misery. Sometimes my eyes would swell shut. Sometimes my nose would get so sore that it would begin to produce a tough extra layer of skin on the inside of my nostrils—which happened to look like boogers. Yes, it was embarrassing.
I have had seasonal allergies my whole life—but I didn’t really know much about the things I was allergic to. I definitely didn’t know I was allergic to juniper pollen—I can’t imagine I would have chosen to spend four continuous years with red eyes and a runny nose. But there was a silver lining on that first day in the field. I was working with one of the worlds experts on this particular pollen. It was the beginning of an ever-increasing empowerment to mitigate my allergies.
How was I empowered? My professor taught me that the level of my exposure was directly related to the length and level of my suffering. Her research taught me approximately when the juniper pollen season started and when it ended. I knew where the trees were and what they looked like. I knew the daily and seasonal release patterns—when to expect high risk of exposure and when risk was low. I knew this because I had access to data, data she and I generated through manual pollen counting stations. In this blog, I’ll share some details on some that will help you with your major offenders.
The Future of Empowerment
I was, and continue to be, empowered but there is something missing. Currently, there is no automated network of devices that can tell you what is in the air right now. With all of the education and tools in the world, you can know a lot, but the only sensor that can tell you that pollen is in the air right now is your face—but that’s about to change. The Pollen Sense Network and the Pollen Sense App tell you what’s in the air right now. This will empower you to make decisions to reduce your exposure and ultimately, your suffering.