Th’ Gaussling holds a peculiar view of the theory of the universe. In addition to quantum physics and the big bang, I maintain that the universe will continue to exist until every ridiculous circumstance that can exist eventually does exist.

Accordingly, Th’ Gaussling is personally responsible for ratcheting the universe a few notches closer to its eventual doom. That is my frank admission. Here are a few examples:

Exhibit 1. Forklift-Boat Collision.  As a young lad I spent a great deal of time at our family business. My father and grandfather had a metal fabricating company that specialized in the manufacture of farm implements. As a result, the precocious young Gaussling learned to use power tools at a very early age. By age 12 I could perform arc, gas and spot welding; operate a variety of brake presses and heavy duty shears; layout; a small amount of blacksmithing; and operate a fork lift.

One day inside the plant the 13-year old Gaussling was joy riding on the propane powered forklift. The rear wheel steering with its short wheel base assured that the machine could turn on a dime, but it could be prone to over-steer in the wrong hands.

This day, turning around a corner just a bit too fast in youthful zeal I over-steered the turn and promptly over-corrected my recovery.

Unfortunately, the Pauli Exclusion Principle puts strict limits on how particles can occupy a given space and, as a result, the boat that was sitting on its trailer in the space I intended to occupy underwent an elastic Newtonian collision with the forklift. The boat appeared as though it would tip over from this collision, but for some reason it rocked violently and returned to ground state.  All was well, except for a meter long gash in the trim of the boat.

Exhibit 2. Airplane-Dog Near-Collision.  The clouds were scattered and the winds were light and variable.  Th’ Gaussling was shooting touch-and-goes solo at the local airstrip flying a left-hand pattern on runway 29.  Abeam the numbers on the downwind leg about 800 ft AGL I pull on the carburetor heat, chop the power to 1600 rpm, drop 10 degrees of flaps, and trim the airplane for 60 kts. This is the transition from flying machine to sinking machine.

“Longmont Traffic, Cessna 714 Yankee Bravo turning base for two niner.”

As I rolled onto base, I drop another 10 degrees of flaps, cut the throttle to about 1200 rpm, and dial in a bit more nose down trim. Things happen fast in the landing phase of flight and as soon as you get onto base you have to prepare to roll out onto final approach.

My favorite part of flying is landing. It is like ballroom dancing. The airplane becomes a part of the pilot and the two must deftly and with fluid-like motion arrange to kiss the wheels onto the ground. 

Coming over the fence I chop the power to idle, and rely on my peripheral vision to give clues as to altitude.  Coming over the runway threshold, I bring the nose up to level flight attitude (flare) and allow the machine to sink as airspeed bleeds away maintaining directional control with the rudder.

Just as I flare I catch a glimse of something ahead that boggles my mind. I can’t believe it! A dog- a black Labrador, to be precise- has wandered onto the runway dead ahead!  Somebody’s darling doggie is about to get sliced by the propeller.

Here were my choices- 1) Plow through the dog, 2) attempt to steer around the dog, and 3) attempt to hop over the dog. By the time these choices are in my head, the airplane has touched down and we’re in the landing roll.

Since I had slowed down to “full flaps” stall speed, I was reluctant to hop the plane into the air in ground effect for fear of the subsequent drop to the ground. The dog was too close for acceleration with added power, so option 3) was no good. 

Option 1) was highly undesirable for obvious humane reasons. But option 2) could easily result in oversteer off the runway at high speed in a 3-wheel machine full of 110 octane gas. This was no good either.

Instead, I opted for a combination of 1) and 2). I applied heavy braking while turning off center only slightly. I was not about to get injured trying to avoid this airdale that had wandered my way. If I hit the dog I would just have to deal with it. At the last moment, a black streak to port told me what happened.

I missed the dog.

Exhibit 3. Mercury Shower. Whether in production or on the benchtop, filtration is a problematic operation. Against ambient pressure, vacuum pressure is limited to a pressure differential maximum of 1 atm.  For a minimally equipped fume hood, pressure above can be supplied by carefully holding your finger on the nitrogen bubbler and carefully applying pressure to the Schlenk filter. This way, the filtration time can sometimes be minimized.

One day in grad school, leaning inside the fume hood I was attempting to apply pressure to my filter flask by holding my finger on the exit of my mercury bubbler. At some point, the seal of my skin yielded to the pressure and the high pressure N2 shot mercury up through the bubbler, past my finger, where its trajectory carried it to the top of the hood. As it is prone to do, the mercurial fluid broke into a zillion tiny beads, many of which rained down upon my head. I could feel the delicate tapping impacts on my prematurely grey locks and my shoulders. 

After the ritual spewing of foul utterances, not over pain or distress, but over the hazardous mess, I set about cleaning up the mercury spill in my space. I removed my shirt for disposal and shook my head until I was dizzy.

Hours later, I visited the university health office for a visual inspection of my scalp and ears. No point in delivering mercury to my pillow.  The nurse was at first reluctant to inspect me, but relented if only to hear the story of why I was there. Later I was pronounced free to go home where I would lather-rinse-repeat all evening.

These are stories of circumstances that have advanced the universe 3 clicks forward in the net cosmic ridiculousness.  This very post could be a 4th.