Friday Four

Friday, January 08, 2016

1. Some time ago, the subject of Hurricane Katrina came up and my wife, who is from New Orleans, mentioned that the teddy bear she had as a child was ruined when the storm damaged her parents' roof and drenched part of her old bedroom. (And then, it got to sit there and mold for weeks while we were kept away.) Pumpkin immediately offered her her own teddy bear.

Lately, Little Man has had the double joy of seeing Christmas lights and showing off a new word. Whenever he sees them, he points to them and excitedly shouts his word for "Christmas," which comes out sounding like, "Cruh!" (For some time before the holiday season, he has occasionally led me to other rooms in the house to point to things and identify them.)

2. Here's one fans of Wile E. Coyote might enjoy: A hobbyist details safety lessons he has picked up over the years of running his own chemical and electrical experiments, including the following:

Turns out that ethanol burns really well. Well enough, for example, that its used as racecar fuel. When I lit the towel the ethanol in the flask exploded, covering my left arm and left leg with flaming alcohol. Surprised, I dropped the flask on the floor, lighting it on fire.

I realized I wasn't in any immediate danger, remembering my previous hand lighting trick. I quickly patted myself out and stomped out the floor. Other than a few singed hairs on my arm, neither myself, my clothes, nor the floor received any damage.
The post also led me indirectly to the next item, from the pharma blog of Derek Lowe...

3. Derek Lowe's drug discovery blog, In the Pipeline could engross me for days. Over the holiday, I allowed myself some time to explore his humorous "Things I Won't Work With" series, which includes a post about a very, very long and equally dangerous chemical synthesis:
So you're looking at eight months of this, handling the damn stuff every Monday morning. The authors describe this procedure as "slightly less hazardous" than the other one, and I guess you have to take what you can get in this area. But the procedure goes on to say, rather unexpectedly, that "longer reaction times lead to partial decomposition", so don't go thinking that you're going to get a higher yield on the one-year anniversary or anything. What way to spend the seasons! What might occur to a person, after months of azidomercurial grunt work ... surely some alternate career would have been better? Farm hand at the wild animal ranch, maybe? Get up when the chickens would be getting up, if they'd made it ... head out to the barn and slop the wolverines ... hmm, forsythia's starting to bloom, time to neuter the hyenas soon...

No, no such luck. The hyenas will have to remain unspayed, because it's time to add fresh azide to the horrible mercury prep. Only three more months to go! Sheesh!
The whole blog is quite a find, and another topic I think I'll enjoy is "Snake Oil."

(Oh, and I see that Geek Press refers to the same blogger on 3-D drug printing hype.)

4. Some users of the Apple Watch are using their noses to control them:
Morgan Hocking, a programmer from New York City, said the Apple Watch is the second Apple device that he controls with his nose. Mr. Hocking said he wears surgical gloves when tinkering with his motorcycle but keeps the instruction manuals on his iPhone. To access the manuals when wearing gloves, Mr. Hocking programmed his nose into the TouchID fingerprint sensor on his iPhone. Now, he unlocks the phone by resting his nose on the home button, then scrolls through the manuals using his beak.
Hocking is something of a pioneer: A magazine for fans of the Apple Watch found that just less than half did this. But about another third wanted to try, upon being asked the question.

-- CAV


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you write, "Over the holiday, I allowed myself some time to explore his humorous "Things I Won't Work With" series..."

Yeah, that's a great blog. I remember it from this post--not sure if I sent you the link when I ran across it, but it made for a great bit of humor in one of my satires. Best paragraph of the post:

There’s a report from the early 1950s...of a one-ton spill of the stuff. It burned its way through a foot of concrete floor and chewed up another meter of sand and gravel beneath, completing a day that I’m sure no one involved ever forgot. That process, I should add, would necessarily have been accompanied by copious amounts of horribly toxic and corrosive by-products: it’s bad enough when your reagent ignites wet sand, but the clouds of hot hydrofluoric acid are your special door prize if you’re foolhardy enough to hang around and watch the fireworks.

Gus Van Horn said...

I think that's his most famous post, and it is, indeed, a gem.