Friday, July 29, 2011


Oh my god the drama. A whole lot of cat drama. As in Felis catus.

First came The Arrival of The Kitten. (Cue the recording of Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.)

Simon Mayor - Arrival Of The Queen Of Sheba by pattynan

Who came not just to be cute but to conquer. A week or so later one of our beloved old cats passed away quickly but not entirely suddenly. The young person above them all took the loss pretty hard. They had also decided in their own mind that the immediate acquisition of another cat, an adult instead of just a kitten like the one we got a week ago, would be just the thing to do to parlay the sadness of our recent loss. I conceded that when the right cat comes along at the right time, I would make a decision.

A few minutes later my child above them all came running to me with their laptop and plopped it in front of me asking "How about this one?" and I'd shake my head and then they'd skim to another and ask "This one maybe?" and I said that this was happening a little quickly and then they showed me one whose "thirty days were all up tomorrow."


So then came The 18-Pound Siamese Sumo-Cat.

Wow. So the clock was ticking for that one. It turns out that the shelter is "no-kill" so that didn't mean what I thought it meant. Anyways, he's a big, affectionate, loquacious, morbidly obese, swirl-around-your-legs Seal-Point; eight years old. Elderly owners couldn't care for him anymore. He rapidly approaches any human who happens into proximity.

While these adoptions were ongoing I became rather ill-feeling and I missed several days of work. I kept thinking that I was "over it" when another little aspect of sickness would rear up: lower digestive tract, upper, nausea all the while... I went to work more of those days off than not, only to beg off to go back home. Missing work also has this affect on me: it rattles me. I get nerved out about it. Beyond the circumspect loss of time on the job and the absence from possible learning experiences, there is also a formidable feeling of estrangement from the workplace. For me this is not an entirely relaxing emotional position.

Then came another cat issue: The Great Neutering. While fully cognitively accepting the policy of spaying and neutering pets unless you plan on raising them yourself or selling them to other boutique breeders and owners, the child above them all still was emotionally distraught with empathy for the cat's physical suffering after the operation. We would try to allay this for the kitten by asking the veterinarian for a pain medicine we could give the cat at home.

"Then what do they do with them?" the child above them all asked me.

"With what?" I asked.

"With, you know," they said, "Them."

"Oh," I said. "Now I get it. Well, if you want we could give them a decent christian burial," to which I got a scowl in response.

"You're an idiot," my child above them all said before they stomped away.


"So," I asked my spouse, the clever one, "If you were going to take over the entire world, where would you start?"

"Bismarck" they immediately replied.

"You mean Bismarck North Dakota?" I quizzed.

"Yes, that one," the spouse above them all said, as if there were other sorts of Bismarckian geological Earthly planetary surface areas which might be under consideration.

That was the one. The one with the sign and the big yard.

So what followed was an explanation of why Bismarck would be such a great place at which to begin domination of the globe: It's a pushover. Nobody would fight us for it.

"Not even the people that live there?" I asked.

"Nope" my spouse replied, adding "And we won't have to worry about it while we're off taking over the rest of this great green orb."



We were trying to get our heads around it. I pointed out a diagram in a book and said "If space were just two-dimensional, like a plane," I indicated, "Then gravity created by mass would bend the space the way a bowling ball in the middle bends a trampoline surface."

"I'm having a little trouble trying to picture that in three-dimensional space," the child above all others said. I couldn't help much after that.

"Fossils I get," I said.

"Me too," they replied, "You and me and Lucy."


By four-year-old son Julian Lennon.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

For Suddenly

One of my favorite games goes something like this: A Person says Something Wildly Obscure, and then Everybody Else has to Guess What They Really Mean.

It would happen during one of those fleeting moments when a bunch of us have congregated around a focal point. It's at times like that in which I have become accustomed to expect to hear something like this:

"I Am a Wild Bird."

That could go either way. It might flash by in an instant releasing all its energy at once gaining no attraction. Or perhaps it would find a seat on the merry-go-round. (Much more about things like that here.)

Compact Muon Solenoid

Apple should be coming out with a 4G version soon, before the year-end holidays.

"Only 168 days and 12 hours until Christmas!" somebody will say as they stride by while already talking to another person on their cell. Or cells.

At work we nurses generally all carry two phones. That way if one of us is busy on the phone you can still get through to them on their other phone. Sometimes a nurse is walking down the hallway with their hands full of medications and paperwork and both of the nurse's phones ring simultaneously.

This is a common enough occurrence that it no longer attracts sympathy from others. It's part of the air.

After work Thursday night I didn't go home. Spousie had booked a couple of rooms at this lovely local time-machine, the Clarendon Hotel. One for the kid and friends, one room for us. It was a breezy night. The views from the SkyDeck were awesome and the less-intense night air allowed for some outdoor comfort. It was a nice little "staycation." After we checked out we all stayed for breakfast at their groovy little restaurant, Gallo Blanco.

The kidz wolfed down breakfast burritos and pancakes. I had crepas. Which are more-or-less circular.

Circular but somewhat smaller than the Large Hadron Collider.

"When protons arrive in the LHC they are travelling at 0.999997828 times the speed of light. Each proton goes around the 27km ring over 11,000 times a second.

A nominal proton beam in the LHC will have an energy equivalent to a person in a Subaru driving at 1,700 kph."

My spouse drives an Outback with a luggage pod on top.

Apparently we would need to build a somewhat larger particle collider in order to sufficiently expand our testing ability.

"Obviously when we talk about the utility of a particle accelerator for discovering new phenomena, the important quantity is the energy of the beam, not the physical size. But do the two scale together? Roughly, yes." This website spells it all out pretty nicely for interested people like myself who have no formal education in these matters.

"Running a trend line through the data gives us the average relationship between the two parameters, which in this case tells us:

Beam energy = 280.14 x Track length - 652.46

So if the LHC is capable of 7000 GeV and we want 10^15 times that, we're up to 7 x 10^18 GeV. (That's 7000 yotta electron-volts, for those of you keeping track.) Then we just solve the above equation for track length, and the result is roughly 2.5 x 10^16 km, or about 2600 lightyears."

That suggests design difficulties.

From the Iliad:

"For suddenly, just as the men tried to cross,
A fatal bird sign flashed before their eyes,
An eagle clutching a monstrous bloody serpent in both talons,
Still alive, still struggling - it had not lost its fight,
Writhing back to strike it fanged the chest of its captor
Right beside the throat - and agonized by the bites
The eagle flung it away to earth, dashed it down
Amidst the milling fighters, loosed a shriek
And the bird veered off along the gusting wind."

Book 12, lines 230-239

A wounded venomous snake, fangs dripping with the fresh blood of an eagle, falls from the sky and lands among Trojans already at furious battle against the wall which defends the Achaeans' ships.

Yeah, I know; as if things weren't bad enough.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Docendo Discimus

Okay, here's my rant:

I am the oldest and most experienced nurse on my unit. I have myself precepted the vast majority of them. I have a pair of shoes (a nice old set of classic black leather Italians,) that are older than some of the nurses I work with. I have experienced more years of this kind of stress. I have worked in hospitals (not always as a nurse because I was a nurse-aide/unit-secretary/monitor-tech for a while as I plodded through nursing school,) for about 28 years and I work with many nurses who are younger than that.

"Experience" just means I've been down that road before. It may or may have not gone well.

We are a band of about two dozen nurses, "core" staff, who steadily do what we do within our urban area of 3.6 million people.

Most people do not care what we do. I don't take that personally. It's just that it's not my fault if they do not care. So don't blame me because a bunch of assholes decided that it was a good idea to offset tax cuts for the rich by eliminating 200K people from Arizona's AHCCCS rolls.

To the Major Offenders, and you know who you are:

I am paying every kid within three neighborhoods around you to spit their chewed gum into your precious yards. Cash bonuses for those who can lob one farthest.

Now there's a market for that.