Ah! Freya’s day. That on which FD SCP and I (usually) slumber late, in her case in an effort to recover or ameliorate missed sleep and me for the rare opportunity to escape anal retentiveness and general jerkness. Thus far we have been spectacularly successful.
As such, it seems appropriate to make some mention of exceptional activities. I have already, this week, commented on the clarification of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and little can be more exceptional than that, including (and especially) the “discovery” (rat hunt may be more like it) of the boson named Higgs. I always wondered what was the criterion under which some names are attached directly (Bessel function) but other are made possessive (Schroedinger’s equation.) What I am unsure of is whether this should be the Higgs boson or Higgs’ boson. Somehow the latter seems more appropriate.
One such exceptional is work [Link] done at Northwestern U to find a way to boil water sans bubbleation. For any bogs who might have wandered into this blog (twisty little passages?,) that means without making bubbles. This qualifies as exceptional for the simple, and egocentric, reason that I would never have thought of this. It says good things about the state of science in the Yankee republic that work so obviously target for the babbling criticism of politicians, elected or otherwise, could be performed and produce not only good but worthwhile result.
Still, I have to admit that the matter does strike a bit of an heretical chord in my being, as if struck by the force after Darth Vader had eaten a cupcake with pink icing. I have related previously how I came to college unable to cook anything and knowledgeable of how to sheet a bed only because of last minute instruction by my mother. Instruction that I have, over the years, streamlined and made more efficient much to the distress of women. But that is subject of another blot.
I was, however, initially resident in a dorm, taking most of my meals at the cafeteria of the complex’s master (monster) dorm with a twenty meal contract. That is, a contract for twenty meals a week. Only sundae evening repast was not provided, presumably to give the instrumentality an opportunity to execute rats and cockroaches. As a freshman I had no transportation so my parents mailed me care packages of canned “Vienna” sausages (no mustard) and potted meat.
Somehow no thought had been given to crackers and I had to work very hard to obtain such since the nearest grocery store was thirty minutes’ walk near. I was also provided cans of Castlebury’s brunswick stew that I heated – illegally – under the hot water tap of the dorm room basin. Again, no crackers nor bread. Thus did I learn the fundamental rule of all logistic systems – something critical will always not be provided and must be obtained by wit and wile.
As it was I had no need to do any “cooking” until the summer after my sophomore year when I moved to apartment. I have related that debacle elsewhere and will herenow confine myself to the matter of boiling water. Since my principal major was (would be) chemistry and I started out in a chemistry course (with laboratory twice a week)first semester, I was thoroughly educated in the practical process of boiling water. I stop short of saying “trained” since the process consisted of being told/shown how to do the deed and then being left to do it myself with only negative (and bitterly sarcastic) criticism for any omissions or failure.
Significantly (finally!) the first thing that one did to boil water – after obtaining the equipment and placing water in the boiling vessel – was to introduce a “boiling bead”, a third-centimeter diameter glass bead of rather aspherical roughness whose primary purpose was to serve as a site for the enhanced formation of bubbles. Since the vessel was most often made of laboratory grade Pyrex (R) there was a tendency for the water to “bump” and either shatter the vessel or bounce it off the heating tripod (shades of Delphi!) In effect the means to make efficient boiling was to facilitate the formation of bubbles!
Since that was a ‘first learning’, it has always stuck by me and it has only been in recent years with the proliferation of microwave ovens to be misused boiling water, and the unsmooth nature of kitchen grade Pyrex (R), that I have been able to dispense with the bead thing. This has not been entirely positive. While I no longer have to endure the shrewish comments of the stronger half of the species I have to admit that I have been unsuccessful in making instant oatmeal in one swoop fell since forgoing beads. Happily, global climate change has reduced my need for this but it is still a matter of some sensitivity – and derision – at Castellum SCP.
 I shall defer consideration of the question of whether the real cause of collapse of the republic was its inability to manufacture pastel dyes.