Friday, January 24, 2014

7 QT: LAST CHANCE to donate!

In which I beg for donations, visit mom in the Bronx, and am graciously hosted by Allison in Boulder.

--- 1 ---

Last chance to donate (HERE) to the Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics! As far as I know, the website is open at least until Saturday. Soon the pleading will stop. My suggested donation is anywhere from $5 to $15, although of course one can give more.

--- 2 ---

NOAA data for water temperature measured at the Bay Bridge, near where we will be taking the plunge, show that winter water temperatures can be as low as 35 degrees. The blue line plots data from 2012, an unusually warm year with temperatures around 45 degrees. That would be nice!

--- 3 ---

Last weekend I visited mom in the Bronx to celebrate my birthday and we had tons of fun. We walked around by Radio City Music Hall, went to Mass at St. Patrick's, spent a few hours at the Bronx Zoo, took a bunch of selfie's, and tried out the meme maker. Probably the most unexpected birthday well-wishes I received were a birthday card and two phone calls from the ladies in my rosary group, which I haven't been able to attend lately because of work. I am always especially amazed when people remember without Facebook, since I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to that.

--- 4 ---
Some kind of bird with a mouse @Bronx Zoo

Mom got dripped on outside of St. Patrick's and was worried that a bird had peed on her, because the liquid was clear. I tried to convince her that it was water but, just in case, we decided to learn more about bird excretions. Someone on Yahoo Answers had this to say about it:
Birds excrete their nitrogenous wastes, derived mostly from the breakdown of proteins, in the form of uric acid rather than urea as mammals do. Unlike urea, uric acid is almost insoluble in water, and is excreted in the form of crystals that form a semisolid white paste. Not needing to store liquid wastes, birds lack a bladder. Instead urine passes from the ureters into the cloaca, a common chamber for the passage of digestive and urinary wastes, as well as for reproductive products. A bird dropping usually contains both white uric acid crystals, and a concentrated mass of digestive wastes such as insect cuticle or seeds. 
So I guess mom didn't get peed on.

--- 5 ---

We also watched Young Einstein, a Christmas present from the Cooks. At first I was worried it would be too terrible to be entertaining. But it turns out to be a pretty amazing movie. You can watch it on Youtube for $2! Andy and I watched this movie over and over again on his birthday one year back before I had any inkling of a desire to become a physicist.

--- 6 ---

This week I have been at LASP in Boulder, CO for a work trip and Allison graciously hosted me. I got to see her motley crew of animals and saw her boss give a presentation on a student built CubeSat. These tiny little satellites (about one foot in length with a few inches square footprint) are all the rage right now. They were able to get some great science data for less than $1M and lots of free student labor. Believe it or not, less than $1M is cheap. Hey, some houses cost that much, and this is an actual satellite! Although I don't think that Boulder is some kind of dreamland, I don't yet have anything against it. Let's just say, it is a bit nicer than Greenbelt.

--- 7 ---
Hannah presenting Samuel to Eli

Recently there was a reading at Mass that really struck me. First we heard the story of Samuel mistaking God's call for the voice of his mentor Eli (and the well known "Speak Lord, for your servant heareth."). But the two verses following say this:

Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.
Thus all Israel from Dan to Beersheba
came to know that Samuel was an accredited prophet of the LORD.
1 Sm 3:19-20
Every word of his took effect. Immediately I realized how horrible it would be if all of my words took effect! I don't mean just the blatant offenses when one hurls insults or curses at someone in a fit of anger. I mean all of the times when I speak darkness instead of light, when I assume the worst, or only see the problems, or fail to bring hope to a bad situation. What if my gossip and complaints about things and people were to become self-fulfilling prophecies? I suddenly felt that it's no wonder my prayers are not as "strong" as I would like them to be. Thank God that my words are not powerful since I waste them and abuse them, and yet even my weak words can do immense damage. As the scriptures state again and again, I need to master my tongue. And so begins the grueling cycle of sin followed by awareness leading to repentance and atonement leading to amendment and interior struggle until the next fall into sin. But eventually we die to the sin and rise triumphant. And such is life, as FrC says so often. Suffering. Dying. And rising.

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