Category Archives: Musings

1 MeV

JEOL-1000 High Voltage Electron Microscope

One of my favorite places at the University of Colorado was the High Voltage Electron Microscope lab in the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology building.

I spent a lot of time there helping my father and the techinical team while in high school, then later when I worked at CU as a lab technician I ran a project that used the HVEM – full circle!

Sitting at its console, looking into the vacuum behind the viewport at the phosphor screen, my hands on the controls for the sample stage and the magnification I literally could see the unseen on the glowing surface. Being fully aware that there were million-volt x-rays bashing around just inches from my treasured brain, held back by inches-thick leaded glass and metal added to the thrill. The click of relays and the faint chugging of vacuum pumps mixed with the curls of vapor from the liquid-nitrogen oil trap completed the atmosphere of super-super-high-tech. And I was driving!! Hard to forget being at the controls of a building-size microscope.

Heady stuff for a young man very taken with science fiction – this was science fact! I’ll never forget the faint, high-pitched whistle the high-voltage system generated. I’m sure it still echoes in the walls even though the massive machine itself has been disassembled and gone for years now.

Neighbor Sarah

Sarah A. Medina
August 20, 1942 – October 15, 2010

Sarah A. Medina, 68, of Longmont, died October 15, 2010 at Life Care Center of Longmont.

She was born on August 20, 1942 in Center, Colorado to Paul and Miquilita (Chavez) Maez.

Sarah married Andy Medina in Leadville, Colorado on October 27, 1961. They lived in Leadville until moving to Boulder in 1987, and to Longmont in 1990.

She was a nurse at St. Vincent General Hospital for 20 years. She then worked at Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Boulder and later at Frasier Meadows in Boulder. She retired in 2003.

Sarah was a member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, where she was a Stephen Minister. She was also a member of Catholic Daughters and Women of the Moose. Sarah enjoyed crossword puzzles, reading, watching Westerns on TV, sewing, cooking for her family on holidays, dancing and oldies.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her daughter, Monica Rae and her siblings, Tony, Pauline, Leo, Jake, Bernie and Joe.

Sarah is survived by her husband, Andy Medina of Longmont; her son, Tony Medina (Roxann) of Leadville, Colorado; three daughters, Tina Lovato (Harvey) of Northglenn, Maria Medina and Andrea Medina, both of Longmont; four brothers, Robert Maez (Eloyda), Paul Maez (Nancy), Juan Maez (Sharon) and Richard Maez (Rosemary); a sister, Charlotte Padilla (Tony); sisters-in-law Burdell Maez and Sally Maez; five grandchildren, Paul (Jenny), Brandon, Jason, Christopher and Marissa; two great-grandchildren, Alana and Olivia and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Visitation will be 5-8 PM with Vigil Service 7PM on Monday, October 18, 2010 at Ahlberg Funeral Chapel. Mass of Christian Burial will be 10 AM Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 323 Collyer Street. Cremation to follow services at Ahlberg Funeral Chapel and Crematory.

A second Mass of Christian Burial will be held 10 AM on Wednesday October 20, 2010 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Leadville, Colorado. Inurnment will be at St. Joseph Cemetery in Leadville.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Liver Foundation, 2100 S. Corona St. Denver, CO 80210.


Sarah Medina has been my neighbor on Bowen St. since I moved to Longmont. She and her husband Andy, as well as their daughters Maria and Andrea are like family to me. They were incredibly supportive when my wife Marilyn died and overjoyed when they met my new fiance Tammi.

Sarah’s struggle with liver issues was a long one – and her family stood with her staunchly. Andy showed me what a real husband was. He and his daughters did everything they could for Sarah to make her way easier.

God Bless them all. I know the pain you’re enduring and I know it’s only somewhat tempered by the realization that she’s walking without pain at our Savior’s side.

Rayode

I regularly see posts from a local here in Longmont touting the idea that we could all have nuclear reactors (yes, reactors) in our front yards – among other whacked-out concepts. Aside from this being an astoundingly bad idea just on general terms it begs the question of what sort of other stupidity Americans would attempt if we didn’t have careful regulation of radioactives.

This advertisement should tell you pretty graphically just how stupid we as a nation can be.

Courtesy of spuzzlightyear at LiveJournal

Read more scary stuff here – these were ‘doctors’ of the time .

Bless The Broken Road

Rascal Flatts
Songwriters: Boyd, Bobby C; Hannah, Jeff; Hummon, Marcus;

I set out on a narrow way, many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
Yes He did

I think about the years I spent, just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost, and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there, you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

But now I’m just rolling home into my lover’s arms
This much I know is true

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

Photo Rights

The following is from Petapixel and is the text of a reference on photographers rights.

  1. You can make a photograph of anything and anyone on any public property, except where a specific law prohibits it. i.e. streets, sidewalks, town squares, parks, government buildings open to the public, and public libraries.
  2. You may shoot on private property if it is open to the public, but you are obligated to stop if the owner requests it. i.e. malls, retail stores, restaurants, banks, and office building lobbies.
  3. Private property owners can prevent photography ON their property, but not photography OF their property from a public location.
  4. Anyone can be photographed without consent when they are in a public place unless there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. i.e. private homes, restrooms, dressing rooms, medical facilities, and phone booths.
  5. Despite common misconceptions, the following subjects are almost always permissible:
    • accidents, fire scenes, criminal activities
    • children, celebrities, law enforcement officers
    • bridges, infrastructure, transportation facilities
    • residential, commercial, and industrial buildings
  6. Security is rarely an acceptable reason for restricting photography. Photographing from a public place cannot infringe on trade secrets, nor is it terrorist activity.
  7. Private parties cannot detain you against your will unless a serious crime was committed in their presence. Those that do so may be subject to criminal and civil charges.
  8. It is a crime for someone to threaten injury, detention, confiscation, or arrest because you are making photographs.
  9. You are not obligated to provide your identity or reason for photographing unless questioned by a law enforcement officer and state law requires it.
  10. Private parties have no right to confiscate your equipment without a court order. Even law enforcement officers must obtain one unless making an arrest. No one can force you to delete photos you have made.

These are general guidelines regarding the right to make photos and should not be interpreted as legal advice. If you need legal help, please contact a lawyer.


To all concerned – I will continue to take photos of whomever I like in public. Your insinuations will not stop me from exercising my rights. Far from it.

Vanadium nitrogenase

From Slashdot: Gasoline from thin air

An enzyme found in the roots of soybeans could be the key to cars that run on air. If perfected, the tech could lead to cars partially powered on their own fumes. Even further into the future, vehicles could draw fuel from the air itself. Quoting: ‘The new enzyme can only make two and three carbon chains, not the longer strands that make up liquid gasoline. However, Ribbe thinks he can modify the enzyme so it could produce gasoline. … [Perfecting this process] won’t happen anytime soon… “It’s very, very difficult,” to extract the vanadium nitrogenase, said Ribbe.’

Gaming no fun anymore

From those wonderful folks at Slashdot (News for Nerds. Stuff That Matters):

Frustration and Unhappiness In the Games Industry

Gamasutra’s Leigh Alexander recently wrote an editorial about the atmosphere of irritation and dissatisfaction that pervades all aspects of the video game industry. Developers are often overworked and unfulfilled, gamers have no qualms about voicing their disapproval (sometimes quite warranted, sometimes not), and the media, in trying to please both groups, often fails to satisfy either. Why is there so much strife in an industry ostensibly focused on having fun? From the article:

“More and more developer sources I talked to suggested that fatigue, hostility, being at odds with one’s employer and questioning one’s career course is frighteningly common in the game industry. That being the case, it seems natural that elements like emotional detachment, anxiety and a lack of fulfillment make their way, even subtly, into the products the industry creates and into the ecosystem around the industry and its audience. ‘Because of the secrecy and competition, a lot of development teams end up having a siege mentality — batten down the hatches and refuse to come up for air until the game’s done,’ says [an] anonymous developer. ‘Game development has a way of taking over your life, because there’s always more that can be done to improve perceived quality. I’ve seen a lot of divorces in my time in the game industry. I feel like it’s much greater than average, but I have no statistical evidence.'”

I think the problem is this simple: greed. The people running the companies aren’t in it to have fun – they’re in it to make money and live out their vicariously violent fantasies. Fun, craftsmanship and contribution to society are a far-distant second. It’s one of the reasons I don’t play video games – I don’t want to support a morally-bankrupt industry that causes people so much pain.

Remember when it rained

Was thinking about my beloved Marilyn Bonita today (it’s our wedding anniversary today) and this song came up on the radio.

I swear sometimes God is standing right next to me with His hand on my heart.

I’m trying to go on, but when a song touches ‘the one within’ part of me bursts into flame and my grief becomes incandescent agony.

I miss you Didi. Thank you for sending Tammi. She knows this pain and she helps me as I help her grieve for her beloved Scott.

I’m glad you’re someplace where pain can no longer touch you.

Remember when it rained

by Josh Groban

Wash away the thoughts inside
That keep my mind away from you.
No more love and no more pride
And thoughts are all I have to do.

Ohhhhhh Remember when it rained.
Felt the ground and looked up high
And called your name.
Ohhhhhh Remember when it rained.
In the darkness I remain.

Tears of hope run down my skin.
Tears for you that will not dry.
They magnify the one within
And let the outside slowly die.

Ohhhhhh Remember when it rained.
I felt the ground and looked up high
And called your name.
Ohhhhhh Remember when it rained.
In the water I remain
Running down
Running down
Running down
Running down
Running down
Running down
Running down

Thirst

In this vineyard
I have waited
parched of throat
despairing of kinship
hiding in the shadow

Comes a vintner now
eager and joyous
blessed by the light
unafraid of the dark
to lead me forth

Working as one
we prune away the dead
shore up the weak
and harvest together
the sweet fruit of life

When the wine is ready
bloody red and warm
fill the cups
brimming full
and raise them high

Let us toast this day
and vow between us
to always drink deep
until the cups are empty
or stricken from our lips

MDW 6/98
to Marilyn on our wedding day

Piece of the Sky

I often hear it said that parents ‘…would give their child the moon and the stars…’

My father did.

Piece of the Sky

I will never forget
late on a summer evening
deep in the humming heart of science
my father, master of machines
said “Come here,
I want to show you something.”

With careful hands
he took a small wooden box
from a locked cabinet
and opened it, carefully
so carefully,
like a priest.

Inside the box,
inside a glass jar,
perched on a wire,
was a stone
more a cinder, really.

Removing the glass
he plucked it free
and told me to hold out my hand.
“Be careful, don’t drop it” he ordered
as he placed it in my palm.

As I inspected this nondescript clinker
he said
matter of factly,
“That’s a piece of the moon.”
Just able to realize what it was
I goggled in awe
at the wonder of it.

Now, in the night
looking up at that gleaming coin
sliding through the clouds,
I realize what he gave me that night,
most precious of all,
respect.

MDW 7/98

Raise me up

You Raise Me Up

by Josh Groban

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

There is no life – no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

To all of you who have come to ‘sit awhile with me’ when it was the darkest, bless you. Your names are written in my deepest heart, not to be forgotten.

Carbon

By DJ Cline

I am the thing you thought you had destroyed.
My hammered chains and broken rings
Smoke up the chimney
Riding the wind and falling from the sky
The soul from a coal.
The ash from the flash
The grit that grinds
The dust in the very air you breathe
I am everywhere now and cannot go away.
I am part of you.
You could not exist without me.
I am the balance.
Without my comedy
There is only your tragedy.
Be careful what you burn.

Copyright 2010 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Carbon

Young brain again

Seen at Slashdot:

German neuroscientists made a breakthrough in ‘age-related cognitive decline’, a common condition that often begins in one’s late 40s (especially declarative memory — the ability to recall facts and experiences). Their new study identifies a genetic ‘switch’ for the cluster of learning and memory genes that cause memory impairment in aging mice. By injecting an enzyme, the team ‘flipped’ the switch to its on position for older mice, giving them the memory and learning performance they’d enjoyed when they were young. Now the team ultimately hopes to recover seemingly lost long-term memory in human patients.” The video, which explains the gene flipping mechanism, is worth a watch (2:18).

Dick Tracy’s wrist radio is here

I remember reading about Dick Tracy in the funny papers when I was a boy. I always marveled at his nifty-neato wrist radio that sent pictures too. Years went by and I dabbled in all sorts of communication media, eventually finding my way to the wonderful world of webcams. At last I can chat with family and friends and there will be none of the maddening misunderstandings brought about by primitive text-only e-mail! Whoo hoo! Dick Tracy lives!

Excited beyond words (but not to worry, gestures come through fine on a webcam) I set about getting my friends and family set up to use their webcams – and thereby hangs this tale. While some of them had computers with built-in cameras others needed to buy an add-on. In some cases I discovered their computer simply didn’t have the oomph to make a webcam work properly. Eventually I came up with a short list of notes that any aspiring Dick Tracy would need to read:

  • If your computer is more than five years old you might not be able to use a webcam effectively. Processor speed over 1 GHz is helpful and more is better.
  • If you’re on dialup, stop trying and get cable or DSL.
  • Make sure there’s sufficient light for the camera to work – even the Bat Cave had lights.
  • Place the camera so when you look at the screen to see your fellow webanaut it appears you’re looking at them – i.e. the webcam app window should be close to the camera pickup. Otherwise you’ll appear to be looking in some random direction – distracting at best.
  • Make sure the camera is fastened down firmly or you’ll look like you’re in a continuous earthquake and your friends may need Dramamine.
  • Be sure to speak clearly and have as little ambient noise as possible – turn the heavy metal down/off and refrain from tapping on things.

Now that I had them wired up, the next step was getting on the right ‘wavelength’ – there’s a couple of ways you can connect webcam users:

Skype – originally an internet telephony tool, it now supports video and is available for PC and Macintosh computers. It’s fairly easy to set up and lets PC and Mac users connect seamlessly. You’ll need to get a free Skype account.

iChat – exclusively Mac but comes standard on new machines and is fall-off-a-log simple to set up and use. Requires an AOL instant messenger (AIM) account.

There are also literally dozens of other webcam-support programs out there but those two will give you the best chance of getting a relative newbie up and running.

So now that I’ve gotten my coterie of communication-savvy geeks and geekettes set up with webcams, good computers and software there’s only one question left:

What do we talk about?

Tune in next time when I’ll be discussing digital video. Until then remember: Webcams and wine don’t mix.

Doug Wray is webmaster for the CU-Boulder Alumni Association, an instructor at Boulder Digital Arts and a huge geek.

East Looe Boys

by Alan Moorhouse
Go here to listen and here to see a photo of the band

It was Saturday night
and we were tight
and the maids were locked indoors
and we planned to meet at Union Street
mid the sailors and the whores

On our forth round
we heard the sound
they singin’ Trelawney song
they fisher-boys makin all that noise
and from then it didn’t take long

When the East Looe Boys come in
with a shout and a terrible din
we would smack some chins
and get stuck in
when the East Looe Boys come in

We would fight they boys whenever we could
in the pubs or county fairs
we’d fight they Bodmin and Liskeard boys
Anytime anyplace! anywhere

For we worked six days
in frost or blaze
on the land throughout the year
and on Saturday night we’d go out and fight
and we’d fill our ‘eads with beer

When the East Looe Boys come in
with a shout and a terrible din
we would smack some chins
and get stuck in
when the East Looe Boys come in

By ’41 me friends had gone
and the woman worked the land
but at last I turned eighteen
and the Army took this young farmhand

The basic training soon brought home
there was worse than a big black eye
for fightin’ that meant somethin else
at the old DCLI

When the East Looe Boys come in
with a shout and a terrible din
we would smack some chins
and get stuck in
when the East Looe Boys come in

At Tobruk, Benghazi, and El Alamein
we left good friends behind
and we landed ashore at Salerno
and the bloody place was mined

With a shattered leg under firin’ shell
I was scared out of my skin
and I thought me time had come as well
till the East Looe Boys come in

When the East Looe Boys come in
it was then we knew we’d win
and this frightened boy nearly cried for joy
when the East Looe Boys come in

They cleared the ridge that had pinned us down
they led us through the wire
Jim Batten grinned as he led me in
to a place not under fire

And they saved me leg and the German lad
who was lyin next to me
and I raised me thumb and I never made

another enemy

When the East Looe Boys come in
it was then we knew we’d win
and this frightened boy nearly cried for joy
when the East Looe Boys come in

So we go back there
just now and then
just Jim and Hans and me
and the crosses of so many men
it breaks your heart to see

And we fought back tears
these many years
we are old and grey and thin
but wherever we are they’ll be pints on the bar
when the East Looe Boys come in

When the East Looe Boys come in
When the East Looe Boys come in
this frightened boy nearly cried for joy
when the East Looe Boys come in

When the East Looe Boys come in
When the East Looe Boys come in
and wherever we are they’ll be pints on the bar
when the East Looe Boys come in


Thanks to my dear friend Rebecca Jessup for introducing me to this song – it touched my heart.

I’ve linked all the place-names and other info I could guess at. Still not sure what ‘get stuck in’ means but I surmise it has to do with getting one’s arse kicked roundly.