Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chem Lab

In all the nostalgia I’ve printed here over the years, I don’t think I really covered college life much. As as chemistry student I was blessed with the dreaded Saturday morning (8:00 AM to 12:00 Noon) lab – every semester. It meant standing for four hours and if there had been a good frat party or big dance the night before it could be torture. My lab bench and Harry’s were such that we worked facing each other. Harry was a nice fellow most of the time, but one Saturday he had obviously been partying on Friday night. He was really hung-over.

His lab project required that he pick up a full, heavy bottle if concentrated NH4OH (Ammonia). His shaking hands betrayed him and it fell to the floor and broke. A painful cloud of ammonia gas spread through the lab. Harry more or less paniced. He was jumping around repeating, “ Oh my God! What should I do?” I said, never dreaming how befuddled he was, “Pour a bottle of HCl on it.” For non-chemists, these two chemicals react fiercely and create an old style smoke screen that irritates the eyes and nose. I didn’t think he would do it, but he sure did it.

A liter of each of those could hide a battleship. Without a battleship to defend, the whole top floor of the laboratory building had to be evacuated. To add to the excitement, someone saw all the smoke and pulled a fire alarm. We had a very angry professor. I didn’t confess for several weeks.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Miami vs FSU

When I sat down to watch the Florida State/Miami game, I was torn. Back in Miami’s “bad boy “ days a lot of bad blood built up between my school. Penn State, and Miami. Lately I have mellowed as I have watched Miami’s new coach struggle to curb excessive exuberance in public by his young team. Plus, we haven’t played them in a while and I’m getting older.

On the other hand, JoePa used to be good buddies with FSU”s Bobby Bowden. But that has diminished as Bobby has sharpened his rivalry with JoePa to be the coach with the most lifetime wins. Bobby is appealing the NCAA decision to deduct 14 victories from his list and I don’t approve. Beside which, I don’t think Bobby is doing much coaching. His successor has been chosen and seems to be doing almost all the talking.

At midnight, it came down to someone up in the booth to judge who had won. He awarded victory to Miami and I think I am glad. He judged it on the result of the last play. He was correct . But if a single judge (and it were me) were asked to judge on the entirety of the 60 minutes of play --- I might have picked FSU. But I didn’t and he didn’t , so be it.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Latest

Yesterday we installed the new Mac OS X Snow Leopard on our computers. I hope everyone is just bedazzled by the brilliance of our clarity and the new sharpness of our thought. From this end I have noticed a somewhat quicker pace to the computers' responses. Beyond that I haven’t explored any new features, so I can’t comment.

We also invested $5.00 per month in the “Big Ten Network” addition to our TV selections. Saturday we got to watch the Penn State vs Akron football game. Although the score (31-7 for PS) doesn’t reflect it. I was really more impressed by Akron than by Penn State. Penn State played a sloppy game without the crispness one expects from a top ten team. State obviously has the talent and the depth, so we can expect that JoePa will shape them up before the big games begin.