Friday, March 5, 2021

End Of The Skating Season

There's a heat wave headed to western Wisconsin and that signals the end to a great skating season. I took one last spin around the rink early this morning and made this video. Notice how the snow from the surrounding snow bank melted and refroze overnight, making a perfectly smooth perimeter. 

When I was boy, I hated ice skating. I told my mom (who was an excellent skater) "Mom, my ankles are too weak." I hated going to the rink. Later, when I realized what fun I was missing, I bucked up. Of course we only ever skated outdoors in the winter. 

When I finished college in Madison, I moved briefly to Cleveland, Ohio. I was introduced to pair skating by my landlord and we used to go to an indoor rink to find women to skate with. There was something so romantic about locking arms and skating as couples to the mighty Wurlizer organ music. Unforgettable. 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Changes: Order and Disorder

The hourglass: The glass part is mostly SiO2 but the sand part is also SiO(ignoring impurities like sodium and borate). 

Silicon dioxide is the inorganic analog to carbon dioxide. Both are chemically spent, meaning they have no chemical energy left to give. An hourglass is made from two forms of the same thing. There aren't too many substances that do that at the chemical level. Glass and plastics come to mind. 

I wouldn't call glass a different "phase" than sand is -- they're both solids. But glass has no real microscopic structure whereas sand does. Pure elements do sort of the same thing when they form allotropes. I suppose that water does it when it forms different types of ice -- some crystalline and some amorphous. But water is unique in forming mixtures of water and ice. Here's a pretty photo of water & ice and sand & glass:

Maybe adding a little dry ice could liven things up. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Beset By The Moon

That is the moon setting early this morning. The reflection comes from the bare ice of a skating rink. Here it is later in the day:

And here is the moon set again but with the exposure amped up:

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Changes: Seasonal and Phase

Morning ski trails on a local lake: 

The newer path diverging left is incuse while the older path on the right appears in relief. This effect is from snow melting around the compacted tracks; the relief tracks will indeed be some of the last traces of winter as the snow reverts to its liquid state. 

Another view under different light:

incuse right; relief left

Some tracks were pocked by leaf prints:

Closer up:

The leaves were not passively revealed by melting; rather, they blew in from shore the previous day and due to their darker color they melted in place, actively boring through snow and ice. In this small way the old season hastens the new. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Status Quo vs. The Party Of Change

"...two important aspects of inorganic chemistry (in fact, of chemistry in general) are structure and reactivity.  Someone has said that all of physical science consists of this duality. In physics we could speak of statics and dynamics, and by analogy in everyday life, the status quo and change."

~James E. Huheey Inorganic Chemistry: Principles of Structure and Reactivity 2nd Ed

Yoga practice fits nicely into that dichotomy when juxtaposed with aerobic exercise. Yoga is rather static and structural, consisting of lots of stretched poses. Cross-country skiing--which I've done a lot of lately -- is very dynamic. I'm now doing both on a daily basis. 

Another analogy is political: Conservatism is inherently status quo; the other wing is by nature about change and dynamics. Best to take a little of both in measured doses.