Monday, November 29, 2010

Letters Home: "These German girls are fat homely beer drinkers"

A letter from my then 20 year-old father to his 18 year-old brother:
November 29, 1952
Fliegerhorst Kaserne

Dear R,
I got another letter from you today, so before I do anything else, I'm going to sit right down and answer it.  It's Sat. night and I haven't got anything to do. The movie theater is only a stones throw away, but I  already saw it.  I usually go everytime it changes. Everything else over here is dead. The girls over here aren't worth taking out. I have only met a couple of nice ones. One is French the other Polish. These German girls are fat, homely beer drinkers. They seem to be that way in all of the American zone and I've been all over it. We're going over in the French Zone the first of the week. I'll see how they are over there.
I sure was surprised to hear about Albert.  If you can get his address, send it across the pond so I can drop him a line. You better forget about joining anything like the Navy. 4 years is a along time. I only got 11 more months. I've been in 13 months today.  It don't seem like it's been 5 months since I've been home but it has. 4th of July to the 4th of Dec. I think the time will go faster after the first of the year.  I don't write any of the kids around R.C. so I don't hear much news of what's going on. I guess a lot of them are getting hitched around there.  
I don't know for sure what kind of car I will get yet, but I think it will be a convert. Merc. or Olds 88. 1950 or up. Depends on how much money I got when I get out. 
How are you making out with the girls? I suppose you got one in all the towns around there. Muscoda etc. Yvonne, that girl I write to in Milwaukee said she saw your car, and thought it looked nice. That was about a month ago. She said you was going with a Miller girl. 
I don't think you will get drafted till about March. They can't draft 19 year olds now (so the papers over here say) till it comes down from Congress again.  Albert was 20 wasn't he?
It's been a little cool over here, but the snow don't stay long. If I can get through this winter, I will have it made. Monday is payday and 3 of us are going in together and buy a radio for our room.
I guess I will have to sign off for this time, 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

50 Years Of MyTunes: 1973

Quadrophenia ~ The Who's second rock opera which I liked better than Tommy.  Keith Moon's drumming was never better. I had the good fortune to see them a few years later in Madison before he died.

Dark Side Of The Moon ~ Pink Floyd had been around for a while already but I wasn't hip enough to know them until this album came out.

Tres Hombres ~ ZZ Top opened for Alice Cooper that year at the Dane County Memorial Coliseum and I was lucky enough to see them then. This was pre-beard weirdness. They did nothing but get better over the years. I bought the album and remember being grossed out by the inside album cover:
Click to enlarge
I had no clue what Mexican food looked like in 1973 in Wisconsin. I was even a year or two years shy of liking beer IIRC (and I may not recall correctly).

Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player & Goodbye Yellow Brick Road ~ Elton John.  I never bought either of these albums but I enjoyed a few singles off of both of them.

Queen ~ Queen.  My older brother and I were in a stereo shop one day that summer and somebody working there had this album and was playing it.  I saw Queen when they finally came to Madison during their "Night at The Opera" tour.

The Captain And Me ~ The Doobie Brothers. Kind of easy listening, but worth having and also worth seeing which I did when they "rolled" through Madison [cough].

The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle ~ Bruce Springsteen.  Springsteen was touted by a pair of local FM radio DJs long before he made it big. I first heard him around this time on WIBA-FM (Radio Free Madison).  I  never did buy his first album and I actually lost interest in him as a musician after "Born To Run."

Band On The Run ~ Paul McCartney & Wings. Well I never was a big Beatles fan and I guess that Paul McCartney was always too Beatles for me (sorry Ron). But I do like a few singles off this album.

Houses Of The Holy ~ Led Zeppelin  Not my fave Zeppelin album. "The Ocean" is awesome though.

The Beatles released their famous compilation albums in 1973.  BTO released two albums but I bought neither of them.

Miscellaneous Singles:

Hypnotized ~ Fleetwood Mac.  A great song from an OK album. Bob Welch was filling the shoes of departed Peter Green Then he left, only to be replaced by Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

Radar Love ~ Golden Earring. Another great Dutch one-hit-wonder band.

Dream On ~ Aerosmith. Debut album.  I'm not sure I had this album until after I owned "Get Your Wings."

Killing Me Softly With His Song ~ Roberta Flack. Great radio hit.

Knockin' On Heaven's Door ~ Bob Dylan

The Joker ~ Steve Miller Band.  OK band whom I saw a few years later in Madison. Steve Miller had some student connection in his past to Madison.

Ramblin' Man ~ The Allman Brothers Band. The Allman's probably deserve their own blog post. I never did manage to see them and Duane and Berry Oakley's deaths were a tragic loss.  Is it just me or did Dicky Betts always seem like he had a chip on his shoulder?

Desperado ~ The Eagles were just getting on my radar then. I was a little shy because of their country sound (which I was escaping) but I came around eventually.

Tattoo'd Lady ~ Rory Gallagher.  Underrated guitarist of the time who put out a great live album the following year.

Get Up Stand Up & I Shot the Sheriff ~ Bob Marley & The Wailers.  I was never big on Reggae but if were this would be it.

Ballroom Blitz ~ The Sweet.  Love this guitar-driven glam rock.

Rock On ~ David Essex

Living For The City ~ Stevie Wonder

Can't You See ~ Marshall Tucker Band  I always liked them better than Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Rock And Roll, Hoochie Coo ~ Rick Derringer.  A nice come back for Mr. Hang On Sloopy.

Space Station #5 ~ Montrose

Who'd I miss?

Natrium Facit Saltus

Metallic sodium is hot stuff.  It's sold in chunks or slabs immersed in oil to protect it from air and moisture.  I used to play around with it in the lab. I'd cut up chunks with a spatula (butter knife) and weigh it out for various uses.  It was always fun to toss any excess into a bucket of water and watch it sputter and bluster, forming itself into a smaller and smaller ball as it skittered across the surface, held aloft by the hydrogen gas it was forming. Sometimes it would even catch fire.  Here is a video showing this: link.

The thing about sodium is that it is so ubiquitous.  Universally, not just terrestrially. Unlike plants, we humans need sodium, yet nowhere near as much as we get. The whole "salt" debate is controversial. For leading links, check out the comment section in the following link.

Lesser known about sodium is that it gives us a pretty peach color which we associate with fire. But not the fire of the sun.  The orange blaze of the sun is really white light filtered by our atmosphere and lacks the orange color of sodium. Let me explain.

The sun floods us with a spectrum of visible light.  Here is the solar spectrum sorted according to ROY G. BIV wavelength:

Missing from the solar spectrum are several well known "lines" having alphabetical designations. These Fraunhofer lines were discovered in the 19th century by early German spectroscopists who first analyzed sunlight.  The black bands are "missing" wavelengths caused by the absorption of those colors by different chemical elements present in the outermost regions of the sun. Sodium in the sun causes the pair of lines labeled "D" in the solar spectrum. We don't notice that the lines or specific colors are missing from sunlight because our eyes aren't able to distinguish a missing wavelength, especially when surrounded by others (especially ones close in wavelength).

Here on earth, sodium in flames gives an intense orange glow which is the exact color missing from sunlight. Try sprinkling a little salt on an open flame sometime--you should see an intense light that looks like this:

The sodium spectrum above reminds me of an old-fashioned AM/FM radio dial found in 20th century automobiles and stereo systems. Sheesh I'm getting old fast.
When I was researching this blog post, I kept running across articles which ascribed the color of campfires and the like to the intense color of sodium. I thought this was odd because plants for the most part do not require sodium, so any sodium present in wood must be adventitious and probably sequestered away.  It turns out that the common orange color seen in burning wood is partially due to residual sodium, but mostly comes from luminescent soot particles, a phenomenon first explained by Michael Faraday (link).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nature Makes No Leaps

Natura non facit saltus
--Nature makes no leaps

The other day I was admiring one of those powerful spotlights that shines into the heavens at grand openings and such. What I pondered was how fast the beam can move about the sky-seemingly at hundreds of miles per second as it arcs across a cloud-covered sky.  Here's a good visual of what I'm talking about: link.

The source of the beam is like a fixed point source, changing direction by several degrees--but not really moving (translating) much at all, yet projecting and amplifying its own radial motion by a factor of r sin(theta), where r is the distance projected and theta is the angle swivelled through.

WTF?  What does trigonometry have to do with real life and making leaps? The light beam models something that interested me once: how small seemingly insignificant changes get amplified at a molecular level.

Quantum mechanics seems to defy the long-held maxim Natura non facit saltus.  This was Darwin's credo too: he believed in a smooth, uninterrupted evolution of species. But what if small but significant changes in genetic code did indeed lead to seemingly great leaps in change?

Letters Home: Thanksgiving

November 27, 1952
Fliegerhorst Kaserne
Dear Mom and Dad and All,
Today is Thanksgiving and we got the day off so I guess I'll answer your letter. I got it yesterday. We sure had a lot to eat. I'll send the menu.
By the time you get this letter we will over in the French Zone firing the guns.
We had 2 more inches of snow today but it is melting fast. We are in the warmest part of Ger. here around Frankfurt. It's lower land I guess. I wished it wouldn't get any colder than it does in Ky. That's where I was last winter. I got 11 more months yet in the army. I sure wish I could get home for my next birthday, but I doubt if I will make it. They like to keep you in over here till the last minute.
Maybe after the first of the year I will find out more about it.
Has any one around Center been coming in the Army lately? [1] I never get to see the county paper anymore. I wish you could send me some.
Did you get that Beer Stein yet? What did you think of the book? It's about right too.
I think I'll send out about 10 Christmas Cards this year. To everyone that I got their address of.
I'll cut this short now.

[1] "Center" is Richland Center, his hometown.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

50 years Of MyTunes: The Best of 1972 IMHO

Machine Head & Made In Japan ~ Deep Purple
The Eagles ~ The Eagles
Harvest ~ Neil Young
Can't Buy A Thrill ~ Steely Dan  <---- My pick
Honky Château ~Elton John
Exile On Main Street ~ The Rolling Stones
The World Is A Ghetto ~ War
Ziggy Stardust ~ David Bowie
Thick As A Brick ~ Jethro Tull
Smokin' ~ Humble Pie

Miscellaneous singles from 1972:

Good Hearted Woman ~ Waylon Jennings
Play Me ~ Neil Diamond
City Of New Orleans ~ Arlo Guthrie
Walk On The Wild Side ~ Lou Reed
Superstition ~ Stevie Wonder
Papa Was a Rollin' Stone ~ Temptations
Lean On Me & Use Me ~ Bill Withers
You're So Vain ~ Carly Simon
All the Young Dudes ~ Mott the Hoople
Listen to the Music ~ Doobie Brothers
Stuck in the Middle ~ Stealers Wheel
Go All the Way ~ Raspberries
Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) ~ Looking Glass
Time in a Bottle ~ Jim Croce
Jungle Fever ~ Chakachas
Troglodyte ~ Jimmy Castor Bunch
Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress ~ The Hollies

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hard And Soft Elements: Size Does Matter

Here's a great Periodic Table showing the relative sizes of common ions. Cations are shown in red, anions are in blue.

Click To Enlarge

Cool things to note:
  • Ions in the same column get bigger as one moves down a column.
  • Look how ginormous cesium (bottom left) and iodide (bottom right) are.
  • Look how small some ions are (Be2+ in particular).
  • Look how invisibly small the proton is because H+ has no electrons. Hydride, H-, having two electrons, is comparatively huge. It's almost like the planets Mercury and Jupiter. I wrote about Dr. Proton and Mr. Hydride back here.

A chemist named Ralph Pearson invented the concept of Hard Soft Acid Base (HSAB) Theory in the 1960s.  According to Pearson, "hard" (small) acids like Li+, Be2+, etc., naturally prefer binding with "hard" (small) bases like [OH]- and O2-.  Likewise, "soft" (larger) acids like silver, Ag+ and mercury, Hg2+ (when they aren't found in their elemental state) will invariably be found with a "soft" base, i.e., sulfide, S2-.

So it goes.

Funny story about Pearson.  I saw him speak once at a special symposium dedicated to Henry. Pearson caught everyone's attention when he showed up late in the middle of a talk, entering at the rear, striding to the front of the room escorted arm-in-arm by two beautiful 20-something women (they turned out to be his grand nieces or something but everybody else was thinking "hired").  The women were dressed for cocktails too, not for a roomful of chemistry geeks. Pearson made his entry, said his hellos, and announced that he was just testing his principle of maximum hardness.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Letters Home: "I don't know how they live on that"

November 20, 1952
Fliegerhorst Kaserne

Dear Mom and All,

I thought I would get a letter from you today but I didn't. I got one from M yesterday but haven't answered it yet. [1] We had our first real snow last night. About 2 inches. It isn't too cold yet over here but it won't be long. By the way now that I got my boots ok you just as well could sent my tankers jacket. I think you can send it by air mail. It's cold enough now to be wearing it. You should be getting a box from me one of these days. M wanted to know if I could use some homemade candy. That sure was a foolish question. I can always use some candy (homemade).

We are going over in the French Zone of Germany the 4th through the 19th of Dec. to fire the 90 M.M. on our tanks. [2]  We have to load them on flat-cars again. [3] It's about 100 miles. If I get back in time I might go to Marktredwitz for Christmas. That’s the place we stayed for that week. [4] Two different families I got aquainted with there want me to come back.

Santa Claus comes on the 6th of Dec. and Christmas is on the 24th. [5]  The people over here don't have too big a Christmas because they can't afford much. The average income a month is 200 marks ($50.00). I don't know how they live on that because the price of food is about the same as in the states. Not much cheaper.  I guess they don't spend much for entertainment. The kino (movies) are about all. I know quite a few German words already. Some day I'll make a list. Nix means no. Barnhof means train station. [6]

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving. We get the day off. I think we will have turkey and all the trimmings. What are the kids around town doing? I guess I never will get around to writing R. I guess I go to the show nights too much. It's only about a block away. I just got back from one tonight. "Bells On Their Toes." [7] It was good. It was "Cheaper by the Dozen" number two. A family picture.

Bye for now,
Love, V.

[1] M is his older sister.

[2] Here's a photo of them firing the big 90 mm cannons on the M47 Patton tank:

[3] A link to a photo of Patton tanks on flatcars around the same place and time as my father's service. link

[4] There seems to be something missing in the chain of letters.  I will figure this out and post the missing letter if I find it.

[5] December 6th is St. Nicholas' Day. German tradition (Dutch too) has children receiving gifts on that day. In Holland, kids put out little wooden shoes on the evening of the 5th in hopes that Sinterklaas will leave them candy.

[6]  Gotta laugh at his earnestness. Years later, when my parents visited me in Zurich, he still called the Bahnhof the "Barnhof."  A few other GI-German phrases from the era that I heard growing up:
Was ist los? was mistranslated into "Wash his clothes?" When asked that, an annoyed GI would reply: Wash your own damn clothes! Then there was the phrase:
 "Shlaffen mit die Froyline, das is prima good!" which needs no translation.

[7] IMBD link

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Best Albums of 1971

Paradoxically, as the albums get better, my lists get shorter.

Sticky Fingers ~ The Rolling Stones
L.A. Woman ~ The Doors
Led Zeppelin IV ~ Led Zeppelin
Who's Next ~ The Who  <--- My pick
At Fillmore East ~ The Allman Brothers Band
Rockin' the Fillmore ~ Humble Pie

Runners up:

Aqualung ~ Jethro Tull
What's Going On ~ Marvin Gaye
Every Picture Tells A Story ~ Rod Stewart
Straight Up ~ Badfinger
Tupelo Honey ~ Van Morrison

Notable Singles in 1971:

American Pie ~ Don McLean
Just My Imagination ~ Temptations
Theme from "Shaft" ~ Isaac Hayes
Me and Bobby McGee ~ Janis Joplin (posthumous hit)
Bang a Gong (Get It On) ~ T. Rex
Ain't No Sunshine ~ Bill Withers
It Don't Come Easy ~ Ringo Starr
I'd Love to Change the World ~ Ten Years After
Hocus Pocus ~ Focus
I Just Want To Celebrate ~ Rare Earth

Facial Expressions

I sometimes write things here to sort things out. This is a perfect example. I've long been confused by two 1960s British bands, The Faces, and The Small Faces. Both groups never really charted well, but the Small Faces did better. Both groups eventually dissolved (The Small Faces became the Faces) and their former members went on to greater things: Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Kenny Jones, Rod Stewart, Ron Wood to name a few.

Henceforth I shall always remember that the Small Faces came first because Steve Marriott was short.

Here's an oldie but goodie:

Why doesn't the world just spontaneously combust?

Rhetorically speaking, the question seems absurd. We don't so why even care.  It's like asking why don't we all die tomorrow--the potential is there--but it's just not a physical reality.

Half of the recipe for world conflagration is the fuel--the other half is the oxygen. Thermodynamics say that we should burn up. So why don't we? Why don't we ignite like a puddle of gasoline or at least slowly rust away like a piece of iron? Rust never sleeps--ask Neil Young.

I threatened a while back here to explain why oxygen in the air doesn't spontaneously ignite with all the organic fuel on earth in one big conflagration.  The short answer is a little matter of about 23 kilocalories of energy per mole needed for oxygen to react with most things. 23 kcals/mol is not a high barrier.

Spin provides why we abide (that's not a political jingle)

Molecular oxygen is chemically inert in the presence of hydrocarbons and carbohydrates because of the unusual nature of its electrons.  It's really not hard to understand this uniqueness of oxygen if you've had even rudimentary chemistry. One trick is to consider it in light of nitrogen.

Nitrogen is oxygen's periodic table next door neighbor. Nitrogen is surrounded by five valence electrons, while oxygen is surrounded by six.  If we put two atoms together, we get 10 and 12 valence electrons respectively. Lewis might have drawn N2 like this:


The more usual Lewis structure for nitrogen is:


Both Lewis structures predict a nitrogen-nitrogen triple bond between the atoms. [true chem nerds will appreciate that the bond order of three is understood as a single hot dog shaped sigma bond along the line connecting the atoms and two bun-shaped pi-bonds at right angles (orthogonal) to each other so as to not overlap. This is how 6 electrons can occupy space between atoms without violating Pauli's exclusion rule].

Now let's use our little Maxwell's Demon to go in and transmute each nitrogen atom into an oxygen atom, leaving everything else the same.  We have to add two electrons to the picture because we added one proton on going from nitrogen to oxygen (never mind the neutron count for now). So we initially get something that looks like this:


That Lewis structure predicts that there will be two unpaired electrons, one on each oxygen. In fact, oxygen is paramagnetic, having two unpaired electrons. But O2 doesn't have a triple bond--it has a double bond. Hmmm. What to do. We could simply dissolve one bond between the two atoms, giving two lone pairs on each atom:


This picture is consistent with the observed double bond in dioxygen. But that picture fails to account for the unpaired electrons in dioxygen.  What is going here?  Nothing less than the failure of simple Valence Bond Theory and Lewis' overly simplistic view of chemical bonding!

There is no acceptable Lewis structure for the garden variety dioxygen molecule.

If you've gotten through this far I'm afraid that I've led you into a little trap.  The answer as to what is the electronic structure of O2 and why don't we spontaneously combust are in part given by what's called Molecular Orbital Theory, a theory which triumphed over Lewis' theory way back in 1930s.

The two "extra" electrons in O2 aren't parked on individual atoms nor do they form a bond. Instead, they each reside in separate identical "beds," unpaired with each other. An oxygen molecule possesses two so-called antibonding orbitals which look like this:

One electron goes into the pi*y anti-bonding orbital and the other goes into an "orthogonal" pi*x anti-bonding orbital.  Each orbital is singly occupied and electron is unpaired--just as observed.  Oxygen still has a six bonding electrons--just like nitrogen does, but the two anti-bonding electrons partially negate the triple bond. The electrons tally like debits and credits, giving a net bond order of two as observed.

UV light can convert normal O2 into so-called so-called singlet oxygen which is drawn as:


When singlet O2 is loosed on organic material, all hell breaks loose, for example, sunburn and as a growing body of evidence shows, mutations and cancers.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hung Up on "Gallows Pole"

The Led Zeppelin song Gallows Pole foreshadowed the masterful (but overplayed) Stairway to Heaven which appeared on their next album. The song introduces each stringed instrument one-by-one, with an increasing tempo. I love how the mandolin chimes in near the beginning, sounding almost like a piano.  Gallows Pole also features a banjo, an unusual instrument in rock music.  You can hear it kick in with the drums here.

More about that drumming: John Bonham is really playing more than just a steady beat. Listen for example here, exactly when Plant sings "upon your face a smile"--his drumming mimics the cadence of Plant's words.

Of course Gallows Pole wasn't standard rock fare to begin with. There's a whole long history behind the song and Led Zeppelin were late to the party. link

50 Years Of MyTunes: 1970

Here are my favorite albums from the beginning of another great decade in music. At the time, I would have gone with Hendrix' Band of Gypsies as my favorite. Yes I was only 10, but I had positive exposure to the music of the time by an older brother and other older kids in the neighborhood.  A few short years later, when I started to play the drums, Led Zeppelin and The Who became favorites because I worshiped the playing styles of Keith Moon and John Bonham.

Led Zeppelin III ~ Led Zeppelin
Abraxis ~ Santana
Band of Gypsies ~ Band of Gypsies
Paranoid ~ Black Sabbath
Bridge Over Troubled Waters ~ Simon & Garfunkel
Cosmo's Factory ~ CCR
American Beauty ~ The Grateful Dead
Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs ~ Derek And The Dominos
Live At Leeds ~ The Who
Bitches Brew ~ Miles Davis
Morrison Hotel ~ The Doors
Moondance ~ Van Morrison

Notable singles that year:

Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine ~ James Brown
Lola ~ The Kinks <--- my pick
Mr Bojangles ~ NGDB (Jerry Jeff Walker song)
War ~ Edwin Starr
American Woman ~ The Guess Who
Ain't No Mountain High Enough ~ Diana Ross
ABC ~ Jackson 5
Spill the Wine ~ Eric Burdon and War
I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home ~ Grand Funk Railroad
Coal Miner's Daughter ~ Loretta Lynn

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Letters Home: All Quiet on the Eastern Front

I just wanted to wish all the veterans in my circle of acquaintances (real and virtual) a great day and to also thank them for their service. There was a time when I was around people who cared very little for people who were or had been in the service.  Most of them were students and academic types, mostly of a different generation.  I'll never forget the looks on some people's faces about 10 years when we decided to moved to Oceanside. And also what one Canadian dweeb said to me all in earnestness: "You do know they have flagpoles in their yards up there?"

"Letters Home" is a year old today. I posted the first letter here: link.  I know it gets boring but there is sporadic excitement. Not this time though. Here he doesn't even mention Armistice Day (the name wasn't changed until two years later); nor does he mention Eisenhower's election victory.  He was 20 at the time and the 26th amendment (giving 18 year olds the vote) was still decades away. Plus I remember feeling distanced from American politics myself while overseas. I missed Clinton's whole campaign and election in 1992. I didn't vote that year.

The Eastern Front of the Cold War as is looked in 1952

November 11, 1952
Fliegerhorst Kaserne

Dear Mom and All,
I just got back from the show. It sure was funny. Abbott and Costello, "Lost in Alaska." [1]
I still haven't got the boys watches. I sent that stein and a book today. [2] I suppose it will take a month for them to get there.
We had one snow here so far. It melted before too long though.
I forgot about Halloween this year. You know we were on those maneuvers and I didn't remember about it till we got back last Tue.
I got that letter quite a while ago. The one with the pictures of R's car. I thought I said something about it in one of my other letters. In that picture of duke standing by the planes, sure looks like R.
Tell Jr. not to get me a Spot Light. It will be a long time yet before I need one. I suppose 9 or 10 more months of here.
This picture of myself is a 8 minute job. It isn't took bad for a quick one. I still got the same old mug.

I weigh 175 and am still 6 foot tall.
Have Jr. snap a picture of his pickup and sent it across the pond. I guess this is it for now, no news.


P.S. I heard R. is going steady again. I'll have to write to him. How's P. coming with the (fussy) boys? [3]
[1] IMBD for "Lost in Alaska": link
[2] I wrote about the stein here. I wish I knew which book he sent back.
[3] R and P were his teenaged brother and sister. His seven siblings were all spaced less than two years apart.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

50 Years Of MyTunes: 1969 Long Time No Play LP!

By 1969, pop music singles were uncool. Albums were hip.  To recognize this I decided to nominate best album for the next couple decades or so through the 1980s. MTV had the effect of reinventing the single and so did internet music exchange (Napster) and the iPod/iTunes revolution reinforced it.  The trend was countered beginning in the 80s by the introduction of the CD format. When this series gets up to the 90's (I only have 4 more months to finish the whole thing)  I'll probably switch back to singles format.

The nominees for best album of 1969 in no particular order are:

The Allman Brothers Band ~ The Allman Brothers*
III ~ Led Zeppelin*
Abbey Road The Beatles
Bayou Country ~ Creedence Clearwater Revival
Green River ~ Creedence Clearwater Revival
Let it Bleed ~ The Rolling Stones  <-- my pick!
Tommy ~ The Who
Santana ~ Santana*
Stand! ~ Sly & The Family Stone
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere ~ Neil Young & Crazyhorse
In The Court Of The Crimson King ~ King Crimson*
The Stooges ~ The Stooges*

Also released as singles that year:

Honky Tonk Women ~ The Rolling Stones
My Way ~ Frank Sinatra
Suspicious Minds ~ Elvis Presley
Venus ~ Shocking Blue
Someday We'll Be Together ~ Diana Ross & the Supremes
Lay Lady Lay ~ Bob Dylan
Aquarius / Let The Sun Shine In ~ The 5th Dimension
Sugar, Sugar ~ The Archies
Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town ~ Kenny Rogers & the First Edition
Leaving On A Jet Plane ~ Peter, Paul & Mary
Both Sides Now ~ Joni Mitchell
House of the Rising Sun ~ Frijid Pink

Friday, November 5, 2010

One Nation Rally (1969 Edition)

Woodstock Nation

Click to enlarge

The iconic photo used on the album cover (top) seems to have cropped out a lot of the trash and litter. Hippies weren't exactly proto-Tea Partiers.  

I'm in a fowl mood tonight.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

All In The Family

Here is a fascinating chart showing the partial lineage of PhD degrees in the field of chemistry. It's a bit dated now (1979), and is tailored to University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty (whence the "Badger Geneology") but fortunately older geneology never changes--you just have to know where to jump in.

Basically, every PhD chemist can trace their Doktorvater lineage back to just three prominent 18th century chemists: C.L. Berthollet, A.F. Fourcroy (both of Paris) and J.J. Berzelius (of Stockholm). I am descended from Fourcroy.

Double click to enlarge

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Conversations with Henry

Henry: Back in my day there were still holes and notches in the Periodic Table.
Henry sketched:

Me: But aren't the notches just from how we think about things?

Henry: Meaning?

Me: Meaning that the "notch" in the s- and p-blocks are because hydrogen and helium don't really belong to either block?

Henry: That's bullshit.  They certainly do belong with those other elements.

Me:  OK. So the notches come from discontinuities. Hydrogen and helium are completely s in character--and so are lithium and beryllium.

Henry: So why is helium parked over the p-block?

Me: Exactly! It really shouldn't be there.

Henry: Bullshit.  Helium is a noble gas. Of course it belongs there. Duh.
Henry looks at his cards and frowns.

Henry: I'll take two.
He discards two cards and I give him two more.

Conversations with Henry

Absence is the highest form of presence.
-- James Joyce A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man

[Henry and I are sitting at a table in his backyard, about to play a game of cards. Henry picks up a .22 rifle leaning against the table and aims it out at the garden and fires. A puff of soil dust appears near a gopher hole.]

Henry: Damn! Missed! He's been eating my turnips.
Henry picks up his cards and looks at them. I do likewise.

Me: What did you think of the election?

Henry: We can basically do two things: build schools or build prisons.

Me: OK, but do the teachers and guards have to break the bank?

[Long pause]

Me: Henry??  Where'd you go?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

50 Years Of MyTunes: 1968

The nominees for my favorite song of 1968 are:

Magic Carpet Ride ~ Steppenwolf
Sympathy For The Devil ~ The Rolling Stones
Time Of The Season ~ The Zombies
Helter Skelter ~The Beatles
Voodoo Child (Slight Return) ~ Jimi Hendrix Experience
Different Drum ~ Stone Poneys (Go Linda and Christine!, and good luck Jerry Brown, hee)
Crimson And Clover ~ Tommy James & the Shondells
Mrs. Robinson ~ Simon & Garfunkel
Stand By Your Man ~ Tammy Wynette
Love Child ~ Diana Ross & The Supremes
Going Up The Country ~ Canned Heat
Abraham, Martin And John ~ Dion
Fire ~ The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Stoned Soul Picnic ~ The 5th Dimension
Ride My See Saw ~ The Moody Blues

Monday, November 1, 2010

Conversations with Henry

Henry: I read your blog post--you forgot about Döbereiner.

Me: Doober-who?

Henry: Döbereiner. Johann Döbereiner. He was before Newlands. He arranged elements into triads.

Me: Huh?

Henry: Triads.

Me: What are triads?

Henry: Döbereiner's Triads. Groups of three elements. All related.

[Henry explains]:

Me: That's pretty scanty.

Henry: So, are we going to play cards or what?

Me: OK.  What are we playing?

Henry: Triads

Henry had a special deck of cards, each one a different chemical element instead of the usual playing card.  I took out everything but the D-block elements (Sc through Hg) shuffled them, and then dealt us each five cards, face down.