Category Archives: Whimsy

A Big Bronx Cheer for the 2014 Jeep Cherokee!!

The makers of Jeep have resurrected the standard Jeep Cherokee in, well, how else can I say it … a very stupid way. They have abandoned the classic boxy utility vehicle lines of the old Cherokee in favor of the now popular fat and squat ellipsoidal lines of contemporary design. In other words, it looks like a jelly bean or rugby ball.  The classic 4.0 Liter Cherokee had power to spare and it had the fantastic visibility of an inverted fish tank. It had troubles too, namely bad electric connectors and perhaps an under-designed cooling system. But at least it had the classic squared-off Jeep lines and lots of traction.

But the greatest sin of all was abandoning the 4.0 L straight-6 engine for the 3.2 L engines. Jeep?? WTF!! What were you thinkin’? I would love to meet the committee of marketing pencil necks and constipated MBA’s responsible for this one. It’s a travesty.


Life with Anti-Matter

This video was produced at Pultroon Studios in Smoldering Forest, Colorado.

The subject had received 15.7 mCi of 18F-glucose 6 hours prior to filming. His current whereabouts are unknown.


The Squamous Chronicles, part deux: Into the beam we go.

My adventure with Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma, HNSCC, soon enters a third phase.  A week from this writing I’ll don my custom prepared plastic mesh mask and they’ll strap me onto an x-ray machine. Oh yes, one other thing. There’ll be a weekly dose of cis-platin coincident with irradiation. Turns out that there is a synergistic effect with radiation and platinum poisoning cis-platin chemotherapy. No doubt it is related to the fact that platinum is a heavy atom with a lot of electron density ripe for scattering. Platinum ligated to DNA during irradiation is a bonus as well I suppose. Your own DNA as a ligand for platinum. A funny thought for someone in the catalyst business.

The first phase was the identification of a swollen lymph node and its subsequent removal from its cozy perch on my right carotid artery. Here I learned first hand why cancer is destructive. Mutant squamous cells from some molecular-genetic train wreck are washed away from their birthplace to lodge in distant locations. In my case, the aloof cells got hung up in a lymph node. There, they invaded the node and proliferated to the point where much of the lymphatic tissue became necrotic, likely from blood starvation. The node was not especially painful. Well, until the biopsy needle went in. Then it became very, very angry. But I digress.

The second phase, post surgery, was the adventure of finding suitable oncologists. This is a little bewildering. It is easy to get overwhelmed by information. I went for a second opinion and soon thereafter chose the Anschutz Cancer Center at the University of Colorado in Aurora. I’ve already had medical students and residents sitting in on consultations and exams.  The medical oncologist is a research professor specializing in head and neck cancer. He sees patients on Fridays too. The radiation oncologist sees a lot of HNSCC and seems knowledgeable and confident.

More to follow.


Good science requires testing

I found this cartoon over at High Power Rocketry.

[There was no citation for the art work.]


Spectrum, Spectra, Spectre

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.


Plasma

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.


Theories X and Y

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.


35th Parallel

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.


Last US Vinyl Mine Closed

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.


The fun never stops

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.


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