405. Static Electricity Explained

Image result for static electricity imagesEveryone has pulled off a sweater on a dry winter night and seen tiny greenish yellow sparks fly. Do not worry, kids. It’s harmless static electricity jumping about from one fabric to the other. This results from the imbalance of positive and negative atomic charges. Let me explain for the layman reader:

if a proton goes shopping and runs up his Visa card balance on a bunch of electronics, like a big screen t.v. and a new cell phone, when the bill comes in the mail, his neutron partner will explode all over him for his ridiculous irresponsibility and selfishness. Image result for man in an electronics store

She will defend the integrity of the atom to the fissionable end, even threatening to take the baby electrons with her in a nasty divorce if her protean husband does not take all that crap back to Best Buy right now. Now, the proton, being maleish, refuses to repent and return his new toys. He cites the literature about imminent domain, the 14th amendment, and male authoritarian leadership of the family dynasty. He pouts and says things that make no sense, simply fueling the neutron to further rain down sulfuric hell fire balls on him.

Image result for pouty faced peyton manning imagesRest assured, kids, sparks not only fly in the atomic marital gaps (like a huge welding shop on a federal contract.Pow!!) but it can become an electrical storm of a fireworks finale on the 4th of July. Frighteningly Frilling.

Each illuminated static electric pinprick is actually an electronic syllable as the proton is beaten down by the neutron at a rate of 18 to 1, roughly the exchange rate between the Honduran Lempira and the U.S. dollar. Whoops! in the time it took to Google that fact, the rate jumped to 23 to 1. It’s not a fair match, mind you. No, more like a mugging by Muhammad Ali versus the pre-sparkle gloved Michael Jackson.

Image result for muhammad ali and michael jackson picture togetherNow I know it’s not right to mix metaphors and use entangled analogies, but that’s where the fun is, Momma. If you stay on the beaten path, sure, people get your message in a safe, efficient manner; however, if you run through the brambles, you get all cut up and might find some fresh raspberries while the path plodders apply layers of Deep Woods Off. As you forge a new path, the safe ones roll on in their antiseptic hamster ball of protection. I don’t know what that means, but I like how it sounds. However, at some core planet in your inner universe also coexists a form of static– the pops and sizzles of different synapses pounding out novel neural pathways, i.e., the static in the attic.

Image result for man and woman arguing pictureBack to the other static. In the real world mental static can build up inside the brains of arguing marital partners. When really it’s just an imbalance of positive and negative atomic charges. Take the husband, for example. No, put him back. The husband may make some innocuous comment about the price of milk, for instance. Only to be met by a flurry of leading questions from the wife. “What do you know about food prices? When was the last time you went shopping. You don’t even drink milk. Why don’t you drink more water? Do you want to die of dehydration and leave me a young but unmarriageable widow?”

Image result for picture of man drinking waterWhat do you do with that?  First, take a long, slow drink of water. Then deconstruct the mosquito swarm of interrogation with a cleverly relevant compliment. “Honey, you’d be more marriageable than Elizabeth Taylor if I should die of my stupid lack of hydration because I know nothing about shopping or milk. I am not worthy of your tender concern.”

Well, that’s unlikely to be uttered. But, if like a neutral cotton shirt grounds a charged polyester sweater in 8% relative humidity, the clever husband did utter such balderdash and calmed his long suffering wife, this would be an example of harmless grounding of static. Perhaps there would be a slight zap when either party reached for a bedroom doorknob, but that’s a better outcome than the nuclear option.

You see there are actually at least two forces that hold together neutrons and protons in atoms. I don’t expect you to believe me. I don’t believe myself, so I Googled again.

Opposites attract, likes repelAs my chart makes clear, a proton and an electron will attract each other. The closer they are together, the stronger this attraction will be. Two protons (or two electrons) will repel each other. And again, the closer together they are, the stronger the repulsion. Now the nucleus of an atom is positively charged, while electrons are negatively charged. As a result, a nucleus will attract electrons. These electrons will swarm around the nucleus, and the result is an atom.

Image result for nuclear fission imagesHopefully by now it is becoming clear to the reader that men tend to run away from the nucleus while women hold it together with overwhelming nuclear energy known by physicists as quarky charm. The trick involves how many electrons (children) a couple has between them. Studies show that if a man has more than ten children with a neutron partner, he is just too tired to leave. He cannot break through the static bond created by ten kids swirling all around day and night. He’s gonna be exhausted by brunch. The negative charge of the children cancels the positive charge of the proton dad, thus defaulting to the core nucleus being run by the supercharged neutron mom.

And that’s static electricity. Next time I will explain gravity. Till then, I’m goin’ to Jackson…

We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout,
We’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, ever since the fire went out.
I’m goin’ to Jackson, I’m gonna mess around,
Yeah, I’m goin’ to Jackson,
Look out Jackson town.

But they’ll laugh at you in Jackson, and I’ll be dancin’ on a Pony Keg.
They’ll lead you ’round town like a scalded hound,
With your tail tucked between your legs,
Yeah, go to Jackson, you big-talkin’ man.
And I’ll be waitin’ in Jackson, behind my Jaypan Fan,

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386. BEWARE: Killer Wanna Bees

Years ago we were supposed to be invaded by swarms of Africanized honey bees, known as Killer Bees. Saturday Night Live did skits on the Killer Bees. These bad mannered bees eventually did find their way into the Southwestern states where they have killed some outdoorsman types, rock climbers and landscapers, a hog here,  a dog there, and have attacked many a baseball player with aromatic hair gel. The swarm will sting a body  over 1,000 times, injecting more venom than a human body can tolerate. Victims swell up and die, unable to breathe.

And how did these stinking thugbees get loose, you ask?  Human intervention and accident. In the 1950’s Biologist Warwick E. Kerr interbred honey bees from Europe and southern Africa in an attempt to increase honey production in Brazil.(I am not making this up. I am paraphrasing Wikipedia here.) Great idea, right? What could possibly go wrong?  But, you guessed it– these hybrid bees were very defensive and swarmed aggressively. They had to be kept in containment as the research progressed. But in 1957 a visiting beekeeper not named Bill Buckner thought he’d take the lid off the bees’ hives. Twenty six swarms of Tanganyikan bees escaped through the wickets and into the wilds of Brazil. The rest of the tale is history, stupid history of man playing God and screwing up nature’s balance yet again.

Image result for attention addicts picturesI’m not writing about Killer Bees, however. I merely mentioned them to funnel you ala the old bait and switch technique into my topic–>> Wanna Bees. These are not insects but humans who buzz about.  Hungry and strangely defensive? Yes, but not for pollen or nectar. Nosirreee. They seek attention and any supplemental benefits that come from attention. Fame is the ultimate goal for Wanna Bees. This may come from performing or politics (really, what’s the difference?) or writing (doubtful, not enough face time) or the other arts. Sports has its share of wannabees, hot dogs who not only seek but create drama… because that’s where the cameras go, and bored American audiences crane their necks to see what’s gonna happen next. But the largest swarm ever released comes from the Hydra Headed, Medusa like beast known as Social Media, which inadvertently spawned and released the pathological Wanna Bees into the world about 15 years ago. This correlates roughly with the rise of the celebrity, noun, a useless but attractive Wanna Bee, see Kardashian/Jenner. Synonym, weasel-pede. Primarily American usage.

Andy Warhol was prophetic when he declared, “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” That was in 1968, Blogabillies.  Since then the world and its pool of potentially famous humans has grown substantially. Basically it’s doubled from 3.5 billion to 7 billion people. If each person gets his/her 15 minutes of fame, you and I are going to have to wait a long, long time till Zylpada Zyabrowski finishes her turn, assuming we go in alphabetical order.  I’m sure a math geek can calculate the number of hours required, and an engineer can rig up a system to broadcast each famous person, and a political delegate hunter can measure by polls how famous a person is for the allotted time… However, this 15 minutes of fame thing is really getting old. All these “famous” people aren’t all that interesting. Nonetheless we continue hoisting another Baby Bieber up the flagpole of popular appeal until everyone salutes. We step back and yawn, “Wow, that dude is famous. Could you pass me the salt?”

About the time the Killer Bees were released, a new way of parenting was being practiced– indulgence. My buddy Clark once told me that indulgence was the worst form of child abuse ever. When I prodded him for his justification, he told me this.

“You know if a kid gets beaten or sexually abused, he/she can eventually get over  it through counseling and medication, right? But the thing with indulgence is this: THE KID DOESN’T EVEN KNOW HE’S BEEN ABUSED. Instead, he’s been sold a script that he is so very precious and entitled to special treatment by everyone, all the time, everywhere. He’s screwed for life cuz he’s totally unprepared for unfiltered reality. It’s so awful.”

I could not disagree. He’s usually brilliant anyway, an anthracite diamond from Cambria County.

For myriad reasons, parents in upwardly mobile segments of America wanted more for themselves… perhaps because they worked themselves silly and were told by voices on television and radio that they deserved more of everything, all the time, everywhere. At the same time the American economy was booming at such a force that the dollar’s buying power increased, causing a unique problem known as deflation. Suddenly in the late 1950’s the dollar magically bought more. Prices dropped. All signs pointed to success, world domination, and the righteousness of the American Way.

Those parents came to adulthood during the Great Depression and World War II. They did not know what surplus meant since the excess of the Roaring Twenties fueled the near total collapse of the stock market and banking system in the U.S. over a generation previously. Here was a new opportunity to get it wrong again. Those parents might have suffered through bleak decades of war and deprivation, but their little ones would not want for anything if they could help it. Free time, sports, entertainment, convenience foods, miracle drugs, and other indulgences exploded as if to confirm that America had found Nirvana. The kids of that era were given more than any previous generation had dreamed of along with a  system that would keep the dream alive. Television became the opiate of the masses, hypnotically calling them onto the treadmills of consumerism, pulling them deep into the vortex of unending debt.

Voila!! There is the recipe for today’s indulged children no matter their age.

Today’s Wanna Bees sting with cyberwords and emojis, thousands in a minute. They Twitterpate their adversaries with 180 cc’s of deadly venom at a time. All for the sake of more honey. They don’t even know they’ve been abused, honey junkies one and all.

326. Falling

Fall’s muddy footprint is pressing into the wet, gray landscape of my soul, and I don’t like it one bit. I am one of the foolish melancholics who complains about the weather. It’s fruitless, blogglers, but I still do it. Unproductive is what I mean. After all, it’s not as if I can put the weather on a performance improvement plan. Just gotta suck it up, Buttercup. Ironically I have four different fruit trees in my back yard that produce no good fruit. Still I keep them for shade and the amusement of critters. Not a single peach on the peach tree. One apple, One! on the entire apple tree. The pear was branch-breaking pregnant with fruit that was insect ridden. The semisweet cherry actually did produce a nice crop this year, but we weren’t interested in picking much. Pie cherries wind up in the bottom of the freezer years later, mistaken as freezer burned hamburger. Most years the birds devour all the cherries anyway. So, overall, after adjusting for exaggeration, it was a nearly fruitless summer. Though you can influence fruit productivity, you can’t make trees produce. There are just too many variables– frost, drought, bees, wind, other bugs, blight, fungi– and I’m not an orchardist with a sprayer. I’m just a guy with a blow dryer and hair gel. No extension cord. You just wait and see what you get; that is also life’s prescription.

Perhaps this attitude speaks of luxury and ingratitude. I remember when my wife and I were new parents and collected fallen fruit off the ground on our walks around Scotland School, tucking pears and apples into the baby buggy next to our first born child thirty four years ago. We humbly ate those pears and apples all winter long, stretching food dollars as far as we could, never imagining the day when we’d have all our material needs met and paid for. Which is where we are today. Zucchinis, goose necked, butternut, and acorn squash are piled in a corner downstairs. No hurry to consume them. We give more away than we eat. Our grapes did well this year and the red raspberries are finally catching on. No waste there, but I suspect this had more to do with timing than good stewardship. Heck, I rototilled our strawberries plants just to clean them up. The fruitfulness of our garden is almost an after thought these days. Mice and insects eat more of our strawberries than we get to.

Those thin, meager days of the depressed 1980’s were pretty bleak. We were the mice then, scavenging for sustenance. Scraping by. No need to worry about exercising then. We had to walk up two flights of stairs to our two bedroom apartment above the stream with a baby and groceries, and then back down to do laundry in the basement. It was a pleasant place to start a family, though my heart weeps a bit when I think of how naïve we were, how isolated.   Our sheltie collie CoCo used to chase ducks and run  on his hind legs on our porch, tap dancing with excitement. One tragic day he tapped right off the deck and fell 22 feet onto the concrete pad below. Fortunately for him he only blew out his hip socket and lived a couple more years without any disability. We were bad dog parents, admittedly. We were slightly better with our human charges.

Our house was situated right at the dam. Its drone was a dull roar in the soundscape. Some nights in April we’d see fisherman along the banks of the stream with lanterns, determined to seduce those fresh trout into a frying pan. It was a rather odd experience to have your yard invaded overnight by strange men in hip waders exercising their waterway rights. “Hey, Buddy, that palomino trout has my name on him.” I suppose the original Indians felt the same way about Western territorialism, but they are all gone. Maybe, just maybe their spirits live on in those ghost fish. Those trout were generously stocked in our back yard stream by men in a big tanker truck filled with water and fish. I fished with corn and hope, never caught a thing. I once considered shocking the stream just to get my hands on one of those elusive trout, and I don’t even eat fish. So why fish anyway? Maybe it was about proving my manhood adequacy quotient. Probably the same reason I shoot groundhogs nowadays. Dunno, Mate. Seems so silly now, don’t it?

Something about damp chilly fall days that gets my melancholy going. It’s just the opposite when spring’s warm wet days arrive with a trillion promises. Fall feels final. The spigot of sunlit glory gets shut off,  not deadly but prophetic of the sunless cold to come. So Neil Young songs come to me unbidden..

“Birds”

Lover,
there will be another one
Who’ll hover
over you beneath the sun
Tomorrow
see the things
that never come
Today
When you see me
Fly away without you
Shadow on the things you know
Feathers fall around you
And show you the way to go
It’s over, it’s over.
Nestled in your wings my little one
This special
morning brings another sun
Tomorrow
see the things
that never come
Today
When you see me
Fly away without you
Shadow on the things you know
Feathers fall around you
And show you the way to go
It’s over, it’s over.”
You can always count on Neil Young to take you to a foggy Canadian wasteland and abandon you there as wolves and bears pick up your hopeless scent. Thanks, Neil. I think after my funeral I’ll just plug in Neil’s greatest hits for background music at the buffet reception. Even if the attendees don’t like me, they will be sad, melancholy or morose. If you are there, blogmourner, try to put fruitful in a reference to my life. I’d really appreciate that, Mate.