I found this cartoon over at High Power Rocketry.
[There was no citation for the art work.]
I’m not feeling especially peevish just now, truly, but I will say that a linguistic habit I’m running into more frequently is beginning to rub me the wrong way. That habit is the misuse of the word “spectra”.
I hear many people using the word “spectra” as the singular form rather than the word “spectrum”. Spectra is the plural form of the word spectrum.
The spectre of spectra as spectrum shines like a specular glare from a speculum mirror in the corner of my consciousness.
Today I found myself peering at the lovely lavender glow of opaque argon plasma through the viewing screen of a gleaming new instrument. The light-emitting 8000 K plasma sits apparently still alongside the conical metal skimmer. Somewhere a Dewar was quietly releasing a stream of argon into a steel tube that was bent in crisp military angles into and through walls and across the busy spaces above the suspended ceiling. Another cylinder quietly blows a faint draught of helium into the collision cell. A chiller courses cooled water through the zones heated by the quiet but savage plasma. Inside a turbo pump labors to rush the sparse gases out of the mass analyzer and into the inlet of the rough pump and up the exhaust stack.
Up on the roof, the heavy and invisible argon spills along the cobbles of roofing stones until it rolls off the roof onto the ground where the rabbits scamper and prairie dogs yap. The helium atoms begin their random walk into space. The argon shuffles anonymously into the breeze and becomes part of the weather.
All of the delicate arrangements; all of the contrivances and computer controls in place to tune and play this 21st century marvel. And a wonderment it is. The ICPMS obliterates solutes into a plasma state and then taps a miniscule stream of the heavy incandescent argon breath that trickles into the vacuous electronic salsa dance hall of the quadrapole. All the heat and rhythm for the sake of screening and counting atomic ions. What a exotic artifact of anthropology it is. And it all began in a rift zone in Africa millions of years ago.
Just for grins you should look up the Wikipedia page describing management Theory X and Theory Y. Anything look familiar?? This is what B-School faculty do. Which theory do you think Stalin subscribed to? Which theory does your organization follow? Hey man. Sign me up for an MBA program.
Of course, these are book end theories. Most organizations are in between somewhere. One organization up in Ft Collins has a slide for employees to zip to the bottom floor. This is Theory E for Elmo.
Th’ Gaussling and family have dropped down to a fault zone near the 35th parallel for some much needed vacation time. The happiest place on earth is located here. It is a confederation of attractions called Disneyland and California Adventure. By day we stand in line and by night we watch a fireworks display featuring incendiary flares in brilliant pastel. Clever monkeys, these Disney pyros. A delay time of 1-2 seconds between flare and concussion gives an indication of the proximity of the conflagration to our room. All is well.
The Eureka Vinyl Mine in La Brea, California, closed May 13 of 2011. The mine had been producing natural vinyl since 1896. Prominent investors included Thomas Edison and Johnny Mercer. The demand for virgin vinyl has steadily dropped since the polycarbonate CD hit the market in 1982 with the release of Billy Joel’s 52nd Street.
Vinyl mining was once a vital part of the manufacturing economy in Southern California. These rich vinyl deposits produced exceptionally high grades of vinyl late into the 1990′s. Flemish immigrant Goeskin Goossaert discovered a vein of natural vinyl while excavating a foundation in the Pasadena area in 1874. In it’s natural form, vinylite is dark in color and is grainy and brittle with striations of styrenite.
Not knowing what the material was, Goossaert set some ore aside for a time. Eventually Goossaert discovered that the material melted easily and burned with a piercing odor. For a time he sold the ore as fuel under the unfortunate name of Stinkenkool. But the problem with vinylite as a fuel was that it melted and spread burning material throughout the enclosure. This unfortunate behavior lead to several highly publicized tragedies. Soon the new fuel was shunned in favor of coal or kerosene.
Noting that the material could be molded, Goossaert contacted Thomas Edison and arranged to send samples to the Wizard of Menlo Park for evaluation. Within a short time Edison fashioned a recording cylinder out of it and patented the invention, leaving Goossaert without any share.
Other veins of vinylite were discovered and soon many applications of this thermoplastic substance were found. To a large extent, the recording industry in LA was founded on the availability of this wondrous substance. Goossaert never attained wealth from his discovery and died penniless in 1928.
Saw Bassam Shakashiri do his “Chemistry is Fun” demonstration last night. On the way home in a rain storm my radiator blew out while tooling along the interstate in Denver. On phase two of the trip with the tow truck driver, I heard his stories of driving a tow truck in Telluride. And his travails with his ex-wife. And why he stopped drinking. And being in traction after a car crash. And about his ex’s brother the cop.
Seems he towed Tom Cruise’s Range Rover and one of Oprah Winfrey’s cars in Telluride. According to the driver, Oprah came running out the door and paid him handsomely to leave the car. Even the fabulously wealthy have to get towed now and then. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
Guapo, Arizona. A political science conference held to reexamine the American Civil War has produced some surprising and controversial conclusions. At a news conference sponsored by Pultroon University, a spokesperson for the Office of University Affairs tried to assure reporters that the event was in fact a scholarly meetiong and not part of a political movement. Meeting organizer and political science professor Udo Rotmensen spoke at the press conference and reiterated that this was not an anti-tea bag event, but rather a venue for professional discourse.
The subject of the controversy is a paper delivered by associate professor Edward Zaldibar, from Penninsular College in Wisconsin, entitled “Was Lincoln Wrong? Alternatives to Reunification.” In his paper, which is soon to be published in the Proceedings of the Sherman Society, Zaldibar explores alternate resolutions to the Civil War. Zaldibar’s hypothesis is that the Confederacy was a genuine and organic political evolution fundamentally incompatible with the Union and democratic ideals.
Where Prof. Zaldibar generated the controversy was the conclusion that the US should consider the merits of forcibly separating the former Confederate States from the Union, sans nuclear weapons, and begin negotiations on the merging of the Northern states with Canada.
Amidst the outcry and shouting from the aisles, Prof. Zaldibar maintained that it was “obvious on its face” that these states should be let go in the interest of a peaceful and prosperous future. “After all”, the professor continued, “the Tea Party movement pretty much clinches my argument, doesn’t it? Its southern anti-federalism undercurrent combined with a penchant for ’2nd amendment solutions’ for conflict resolution is a reincarnation of antebellum ideals.”
After the meeting, Prof. Zaldibar was escorted past a gauntlet of outraged attendees and students. He remains in seclusion and declines to be interviewed.
Every once in a while fate brings you to a location that you’ve lived by, but have never visited. We had the occasion to visit a local ranch that markets itself as a working ranch and event center. The ranch, which will go unnamed, sits in the Little Thompson River valley along the Colorado Front Range. It is one of the very few river valleys that does not have a public road in it.
The ranch defies easy description. The rancher has dedicated the property to open space, so McMansion construction will not fill the valley with subdivisions of tedious, look-alike housing with black Escalades parked out front. He wants to keep the property, well, not wild exactly, but early 20th century ranch style.
The ranch has a campground with unimproved space for campers and tents as well as a half dozen pentagonal pyramidal structures referred to as Tee-Pees. These Tee-Pees are covered with rolled tar paper roofing and festooned with images of native American artwork. I’d say it’s pretty kitschy.
The restroom facilities are nearby, festive, and unmistakable.
The ranch is quite large and sits on the north side of Rabbit Mountain, sometimes known as rattlesnake mountain. This is rattlesnake country and you need to be wary when charging through the grass to get that great photo.
There are plenty of places to sit over yonder at the dance hall. This bit of folk art is there for you to rest your weary feet.
Of course, if you give an arc welder to a rancher, there is no telling what he’ll come up with.
There is much to be learned from a day on the ranch. For the keen observer, metaphors abound. While a rolling stone gathers no moss, a standing wheel gathers a tree.
I’m glad to hear that the US and Russia have decided, in principle anyway, to dial in another notch of reduction in nuclear arms. I think it is hard for people to fathom the magnitude of the effects of nuclear weapons or to estimate how many are really necessary to bring an adversary to submission. You don’t have to knock down every city, crater every underground installation, or bounce every bit of rubble to rattle an enemy state to the point where they sue for peace.
But enough of this heady atomic theatre. I have my own nuclear policy. You see, I’m generally in favor of the extreme reduction of nuclear warheads to maybe less than 100. But I must insist that a few be kept aside for the purposes of bringing the hammer down on those who would devise computer viruses.
Yes, individuals or groups who devise malicious code to infect computers should live in fear that tactical nuclear hellfire could rain down upon their greasy, pointed heads at any moment. People who initiate malicious code should be regarded as international combatants-against-humanity with bounties on their heads.
Microsoft should be required to post a kind of bond for the purposes of reimbursing society for the countless hours of time lost waiting for anti-virus software to come out of scan-mode so your computer can function in the manner it is designed to work.
The dark collusion between Microsoft and the plurality of organizations thriving on the weakness of MS products should be brought to the surface for all to see. Apparently, nobody really wants to see a virus-proof OS dominate the market. It would bring too many vendors to ruin. And, too many 20-somethings holed-up in the dark, fetid recesses of the internet would have to find honest work with their skills.