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Gender: Male
Current location: New Jersey
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 28,194

Journal Archives

My Wife Has Correctly Been Pointing Out How Stupid I Am.

My wife has been going to estate sales trying to find furniture for the cat to claw to pieces, since the cat has completely destroyed the current furniture. (It seems to take the cat about 2 years to complete total destruction.)

My wife enjoys going to estate sales and garage sales in general, and sometimes picks up useful things.

I'm not all that much into that kind of stuff, but as there is a hurricane in the area, I went with her today to an estate sale, more or less on the spur of the moment, in the interest of keeping her safe in this weather. She wanted to go because she wondered if a couch and love seat might still be there, something she told me was a long shot, since most of that stuff on a weekend is gone almost immediately on the opening.

This was true in the estate sale to which we went, but we perused the place anyway. The guy who passed on had a very nice library, and one of the first things I always do when invited into a stranger's home is to check out the books on their shelves to tell me about who the person is. (If they don't have any books at all, it also tells me who the person is.) This guy was dead, of course, but I found it interesting to think about who he was. He apparently had a strong interest in late 20th century history politics, and had several books on major political figures from that era who have more or less lapsed into some obscurity; the titles suggested the dead guy was a moderate Democrat of the era.

Among his collection of books were books from an earlier era, a biography of Grant, McFeeley's which I already had, and a book that I've sometimes thought I should read some day, Edmund Morris's Theodore Rex, a biography of Theodore Roosevelt. My wife came into the guy's library, and I remarked on that I'd always wanted to read that book and she noted my birthday was coming up, and suggested that I ask the person running the estate sale if the books were for sale. The answer was "yes" and the price was announced as $2/book.

My wife, who is on a quest for me to throw books away, since they represent a rather massive amount of clutter in our home with our shelves stuffed to capacity, generously said, space considerations aside, that I should buy the book at $2. While we were chatting, I remarked that the dead guy may have been a historian, and then we came across a 5 volume set (6 volumes in 5 bindings) of James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, and I remarked that this work was a classic in biography, important in the intellectual history of the Western World. At that point, we pulled an adjacent volume off the shelf, which proved to be a copy of the dead guy's 1959 Princeton University thesis on the subject of Boswell's biography. So my wife says of the five volumes, "Do you want these too?" and after some desultory hemming and hawing I confessed I would like to own that set.

So we go out to the sale manager, give her twelve dollars for the six books - we didn't take the thesis although perhaps we should have done so - and I start giving the sale manager a lecture on the fact that the dead guy must have been quite an intellectual since he wrote his thesis on them, and that the set seemed to date from the 1950's.

The agent then remarks, "Maybe these are first editions! Maybe they're worth thousands of dollars!" and pulls out her cell phone and starts searching around the internet for the title. (A first edition would date from the 18th century; which I mumbled to the agent.)

I then mutter, "Well, I'm not paying thousands of dollars for these books."

Now it happens that there are remaindered editions, for modern college classes, of this book that sell on Amazon for 10 dollars, sometimes even less, and happily, the agent came across these, while muttering about a case where a rare book in an estate sold for huge amounts of money, and I'm rolling my eyes, and finally, since she couldn't find reference to these editions, she gave up, kept the $12 dollars and we ska doodled out of the house with our six books.

I remarked that I was pretty stupid in that sale, and almost lost it, and my wife enthusiastically agreed, pointing out several times that I need to keep my mouth shut, repeating the point several times on the ride home, which was longer than usual because of flooded roads.

Then my wife and I started talking about the fact that the books may, in fact, be worth far more that we paid for them, and my wife began speculating that perhaps when I retire - something I have successfully avoided doing - I should become a rare book dealer. (This may be a ploy to make me get rid of my books.)

So when we got home, I went on the internet, using more information from inside the book jacket.

It appears these editions are worth somewhere between $400-$700. They are not for sale however. I'm keeping them. I called up to my son and said, "Hey, your mother bought me $500 worth of books for my birthday. How do you plan to match that?"

I'm a fool. I almost blew it. Sometimes it's better to say nothing at all.

Sounds like a description of the most recent Presidential debate.

I kind of enjoyed this psychologist's comments, without mentioning Mr. Trump and President Biden, but, I think, applicable there and beyond.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I was paralyzed.

I'm losing 3-2.

My son killed three spotted lantern flies in the last week and I've only killed two.

He's declared that the winner has to buy the loser a bottle of scotch. Fat chance, kid. You can't kill spotted lantern flies when you're drunk.

The spotted lantern fly is an invasive species that kills trees. It's native to Vietnam and China, but has found its way into Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. They are a serious threat to forests and to agriculture.

They are beautiful looking insects, with a propensity to jump in their nymph form, although you can exhaust them by making them jump several times as you chase them down.

Spotted Lanternfly

Figure 1: Adult spotted lanternfly

Figure 2: Young juvenile spotted lanternfly.

Figure 4: Older juvenile spotted lanternfly.

Figure 6: Spotted lanterfly egg mass.

NIST reserves the right to charge for this database in the future.

Your government does great things for science, but they reserve the right to charge you in the future:

NIST Chemistry Webbook

Finally, as an old man, I am appreciating NIST.

Charlie Haden on Bass.

Only Charlie Haden could do this.

The best communist bass player from Iowa in the world.

Seriously, a giant. My favorite part of his career, if one has to choose a favorite, was his years with Keith Jarrett, Dewey Redman, and Paul Motion.

Something a little outside mainstream jazz, as only Charlie Haden could do it:


Mexico City was like another world.

Beneath an Evening Sky

My sons are annoyed by my refusal to read fiction, but without telling them, I may read...

...Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française

...Born in Ukraine, Irène Némirovsky had lived in France since 1919 and had established herself in her adopted country's literary community, publishing nine novels and a biography of Chekhov. She composed "Suite Française" in the village of Issy-l'Evêque, where she, her husband and two young daughters had settled after fleeing Paris. On July 13, 1942, French policemen, enforcing the German race laws, arrested Némirovsky as "a stateless person of Jewish descent." She was transported to Auschwitz, where she died in the infirmary on Aug. 17.

The date of Némirovsky's death induces disbelief. It means, it can only mean, that she wrote the exquisitely shaped and balanced fiction of "Suite Française" almost contemporaneously with the events that inspired them, and everyone knows such a thing cannot be done...

New York Times Book Review Suite Française

I sort of have to read it, but I won't tell by sons, since I'm trying, hard as it is, to be consistent.

Be careful with that Piranha solution.

So I'm reading this paper:

Lipidomic Profiling of Algae with Microarray MALDI-MS toward Ecotoxicological Monitoring of Herbicide Exposure (Peter V. Shanta, Bochao Li, Daniel D. Stuart, and Quan Cheng Environmental Science & Technology 2021 55 (15), 10558-10568)

...and then something scary shows up, something of which I've never heard, Piranha solution!!!!?!!.

The gold microchip array was fabricated in the Cleanroom Facility at UCR, following our previously published procedure.(30) The physical parameters of the finished gold microchips are as follows: each well on a gold microchip has a diameter of 800 μm, with the well bottom covered with 50 nm thick gold and the edges of wells covered with 200 nm gold. In brief, glass slides (1 × 3 inches) were cleaned with Piranha solution (H2SO4/H2O2, 3:1, Caution!), rinsed with ultrapure water and ethanol, and dried under nitrogen.

It sounds dangerous, that Piranha solution. If you're going to use it, be careful! ...Especially if you're misappropriating the ethanol.
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