Electron “Ice”

While bored at work yesterday I stumbled across a picture/summary of an article that appeared in the famed science journal Nature. The first pictures of Wigner Crystals have been taken.

What are Wigner Crystals?

Well, they’re the crystalline form thst electrons take in materials when the materials are cooled to near absolute zero. As absolute zero is approached, the electrons settle into an ordered, lattice structure to conserve energy. One form is that it looks like a honeycomb.

Electron “ice”

The article called it “electron ice”, which is a good descriptive term. Because it’s basically frozen electrons.

It was a pretty involved experiment, using atom thick layers of two semi-conductors (tungsten disulfide and tungsten diselenide). Then they applied an electric field across the gap between the two layers, cooled it to about -270 °C, added a single atom thick layer of graphene to protect the crystal, and used a scanning tunneling microscope to capture the image.

In other words, they scienced the shit out of this!

And in the process, they came up with photographic evidence that electron ice exists. As it was theorized 80 years ago by Hungarian scientist Eugene Wigner.

This sort of stuff makes my sciencey heart geek out. I have a materials degree, I get into geology and crystal structures, and I did a ton of electron microscopy in school. I love looking beyond what our eyes can see and our minds can fathom.

Here’s a picture I keep in my office. I took this picture in college using a transmission electron microscope:


What you are seeing is the atomic structure of 1-2-3 superconducting material. The little light and dark spheres in the picture are basically the atoms in the crystal structure. The rough edge at the top is where the material was broken so you can see the structure gets a bit disordered.

This picture is from 1990 or so. Ans now here we are. Pictures of electrons solidifying into a shape that was first floated as a theory in the 1930’s.

I mean, c’mon! Pictures of frozen electrons forming a honeycomb shaped lattice structure? Fucking ELECTRONS. The teensy particles zooming in orbits around atoms… ATOMS… which are the things that connect like tinker toys to build us. And they slowed down enough to settle into an ordered crystal structure.

And how cool is it that the electrons are making a structure that mimics what bees make on a grander scale. Honeycomb structures. Spirals. Fibonacci numbers. The golden ratio. Math. Science. Nature. Are all the same.

Everything is interconnected. And there is order and structure. And we’re seeing building blocks of the universe. But not even the tiniest building blocks as there are particles even smaller than electrons. SMALLER THAN ELECTRONS!

And then there’s us. And planets. And stars. And galaxies. And the infinite ness of the goddamn universe.

Nature is awesome— in the truest definition of that word.

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I was down visiting my mom again this past weekend. All things being equal, she’s doing ok. The medication adjustments and being several months past her surgeries have helped to stabilize her. She’s getting around ok and she has several different people helping her and looking in on her. So that’s all good.

While I was down, I decided to give her some additional electronics to help her and to make her more comfortable. I got her an Amazon Dot and a hue lightbulb. She was always having to fumble with the lamp by her chair, so now that’s voice controlled by Alexa.

I also synced her contacts and set up her dish network on Alexa, so she has voice options for phone calls, tv control, etc. She loves being able to ask Alexa questions. Most of which revolve around how tall certain actors are.

I also took her my old Apple TV and hooked that up for her to give her extra movie and show options. She really wanted to see Ted Lasso. Between setting it up on Saturday and today, she has already binged both seasons. She LOVED it. Now on to schmigadoon.

Just so you know, she’s sharing my Netflix, Amazon, and Apple accounts so that she can watch all this content.

I wish I didn’t have to use the Apple TV. The remote is so small it’s difficult for her to use. Also, it involves changing hdmi inputs, which involves using a third remote. So now she has to juggle the dish remote, the tv remote for input switching, and the Apple TV remote. All this is because her tv is so goddamn old and also because her dish network doesn’t support Apple TV as an app.

I had some other electronic hurdles too, namely with the sound bar and how it was hooked up. Don’t ask- but again- the age of her tv made juggling inputs/outputs… challenging. Especially without instructions. But logic prevailed and I got her sound working with both dish and Apple TV.

Yay me!

I think this has given me an idea for Christmas though. I’ll be upgrading her TV. Which won’t cost much as her “1980’s entertainment unit” can only accommodate a maximum of 38”. But if I can at least get one with apps built in for Netflix, Amazon, and Apple— it might mean fewer remotes for her.

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Furr-iday! Fun!

Guten-tag! it’s Friday and I’m in need of fun and dickstraction.

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The Devil’s Gift

It’s October, so now is the time that all things hallowe’en creep to the fore. Everyone is all about decorations and spookiness and horror movies. All this got me to thinking…

I hate cymbal monkeys.

These things just have always creeped me out. Even more than clowns or people in mascot costumes. The dead eyes. The evil teeth grimace thing they do.

Plus, one of those features in a crap horror movie from the early 80’s that has some how stuck with me to this day. It was called “The Devil’s Gift”. At least I am pretty sure this is the film. When I looked it up online, I didn’t remember it being so low budget and janky.

Anyway, in this film this fucking cymbal monkey is possessed and every time it claps it’s cymbals, bad accidents happen and someone inevitably dies.

As a kid I remember this dad struggling with the damn thing and finally getting it out of the house and buried somewhere. In my memory I have this recollection of the dad seeing the monkey rearing back to cymbal crash, and he dives for it and wedges his hand between the cymbals just in time.

The think I remember most vividly is the end. The grandma brings a gift to her grandson, and just when you think everything is over, the kid unwraps the gift and it’s the goddamn monkey. This time it rears back, the dad, grandma and boy are trying to get out of the house, everyone is screaming and panicking, you see the evil monkey grin… and the screen goes black.

And you hear it. The “ching” of the cymbals.

And then a loud explosion.

Still totally remember this stupid film to this day. And those damn monkeys still creep me the fuck out.

I’m gonna git you, sucka!
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Thirsty Thursday

It’s that time again. Obey your thirst.

Cum sail away…
Look at my thigh ink
Excitement plus!
Oh, nothin. What you doin?
Just lounging
Thicc thighs save lives
I’m shy, lol!
Curly everywhere
Time to get clean
Hang in there
It’s hot out
It’s wet out.

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Indian Summer

Or do we call it “Native American” summer now? Regardless, we are in the midst of it here and it’s pretty glorious. But it ends Thursday.

This past weekend, we got lucky and had a perfect summerfall day on Sunday. 80 degrees, low humidity, no wind, blue sky. So naturally I went on a bike ride. Probably my last long ride of the year.

This was my ride on Sunday. I hit all my usual areas- and busted out a really fast ride at 18.3 mph! It felt like I was moving, but you never know. It also felt really good. I probably could have tossed in another 10 miles, but I didn’t have time.

Me at Minnehaha Falls
Feelin cocky at the sculpture gardens

And while I know summer really IS over at this point, I’m less melancholy than I was at the end of August. The extra time has given me space to process and get used to the idea of autumn. I don’t like it, but I’m dealing.

On other fronts— I have started the process of looking for a new job. Yes, again. I wish it wasn’t the case, but….

The job I took in May was a welcome change from my last job. That one had run its course and I just couldn’t stay there any longer. So I was really looking forward to this new job. I mean, new industry. New environment. Smart people.

But as with any new job, once you begin you start to discover all the stuff that wasn’t visible during the interview process. All the warts as it were. Unfortunately, there are a lot of them.

There are just a myriad of issues here- and I don’t think I can fix them. Partly due to the mindset and partly due to the sheet lack of resources available.

I haven’t even reached the 5 month mark yet, but I just feel the situation is untenable. So I’m starting to look again. Trust me, this does not sit well with me. I’m of the generation where you stay put in a job. I just don’t think I can, though.

The positive here is that my eyes have been opened as far as potential red flags to look out for in a future employer. I will also be a bit tougher in my negotiations (especially when it comes to vacation).

Other than that, it’s just another Monday in another week.

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End of Summer

I had a sad.

I always get rather melancholy as summer draws to a close. The first wave always hits at Labor Day, when summer vacations end and school begins. The second wave hit this weekend.

This was our last spate of truly summer like weather. It was gorgeous on Saturday and humid and HOT yesterday. Perfect weather for me ans biking. And for one last outdoor patio hurrah at the Eagle.

Love that Cinelli
Blue sky for days

But now the rain is here. And the temp is dropping. And Autumn begins tomorrow.

The rapid descent into winter has begun. And it makes me sad.

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Amanda Gorman is cool

Was it Wednesday evening? Yes, where Robin Robert’s did a special 20/20 interview with famed inaugural poet Amanda Gorman. Only 23, she is already a hurricane force to be reckoned with.

The girl is making poetry cool again.

The interview was really well done and followed her humble beginnings and went through her first love of the written word and how she lives (as she writes) with such intention.

She was first struck by the written word in something like 3rd grade when the teacher was reading a book to the class (I’m blanking on the famous author) but he wrote a line about teeth being like candy fangs in a mouth (or some such) and she was immediately struck by the line and decided then and there to delve into word use and poetry.

Did you know that she spent most of her life with a speech impediment? Yeah, she had trouble with her R’s (kind of like the Babwa Wawa kind). She has worked really hard with a speech therapist to overcome it. I think that’s why she so clearly enunciates everything and speaks so deliberately and with precision.

Man has she been bestowed with honors, too. 1st teen poet laureate of Los Angeles when she was in high school. Chosen as first National youth poet laureate of the US. Youngest inaugural poet. Continuously compared to Maya Angelou. She’s published books of her poems. The list goes on.

She also got into Harvard- no big surprise. She’s probably one of the few folks I actually think deserve to be there. She’s wickedly smart. Hell, one of her poems is now featured in Harvard’s hallowed Wiedner library.

The interview also delves into how she uses her hands to narrate her poems. Again, she’s deliberate with her motions and it adds yet another dimension to the performances of her work. She focuses it in that 2 foot by 2 foot space from chest to head in order to go with her face and voice. Once she completes a poem, she works the gestures out along with the cadence and crescendoed of her voice while listening to film score music for inspiration.

In the 20/20 interview (as she was talking about the gestures and performance aspect) she read feom the poem now enshrined at Harvard. It’s called “In This Place (An American Lyric)”. Look it up- it’s brilliant. But I was particularly struck by one stanza- one line (one word, really):

There’s a poem in this place— a poem in America a poet in every American who rewrites this nation, who tells a story worth being told on this minnow of an earth

This “minnow” of an earth. What an interesting, clever word choice to decribe our home. Alive, yet tiny. Swimming in a galactic ocean. I’d never heard an earth metaphor like this before. I think that was my very own “candy fangs” moment.

The girl is also becoming a fashion icon. She dresses as deliberately as she chooses her words. Her outfits are curated for specific effects- and she’s good at it. I mean, that yellow coat, and the choice of turning the red head band into a tiara of sorts? Fucking brilliant. Instantly iconic. And she was a goldfinch shining in a sea of drabness that day. A ray of sunshine- a beacon of hope for the future. As was the poem.

And now she’s been on the cover of Vogue magazine. AND she just attended the Met Gala.

Oh, and did you know that She’s a twin? Man do I feel sorry for her sister. The other Gorman girl. I mean, how would you feel, knowing your twin is friends with Oprah, spoke at the Inauguration, is a published author, landed the cover of Vogue, and co-chaired the Met Gala?

And I get the distinct impression that Amanda is just getting started. I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next.

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Thirsty Thursday

It’s been a bit of a dry spell for me. I’m very thirsty.

What horrid tile for a kitchen!
My eyes are up here
Guys and their trucks
Whachu lookin at, punk?
Those ears! Adorbs!
Wish I was eating ass instead…
So damn cute!
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And the band got back together…

Well technically we never broke up. We were just on the Covid hiatus. But as of this week, my extracurricular are back in full force— both band and chorus.

Concert band Monday night was the first time I’d played with the group in — well, since spring of 2020. So it’s been awhile. Luckily I’d kept my chops up decently, so playing wasn’t terrible. However, I was a tad rusty on sight reading on the euphonium.

Chorus actually started last week, with our open rehearsal Tuesday and auditions on Thursday. But last night was the start with the newly accepted members. It was also my first time running an “in person” sectional rehearsal and then singing with the full chorus since March of 2020.

Overall, I thought I’d feel… different.

Being a musician and having to put a full stop to playing/singing in groups was a massive change. Especially since I’d been doing it for many years in end. But I think I was also a tad more burnt out than I realized. So at the time Covid restrictions happened, I was actually kind of ok to let go of playing in concert band.

Chorus never stopped for me really- it just moved to a virtual realm. Which actually increased my workload as a section leader and made my musical life more of a challenge. I was having to teach music and play piano every week on zoom calls. For a year. and then there was the self-recording for our virtual concerts and special videos.

It was a lot.

Now that rehearsals are happening again for all my musical friends, they’re all posting on Facebook about how much they’ve missed it and how their hearts are full again and such. But me? I didn’t get that feeling.

For me, it was more like I had been watching a dvd, hit the pause button for awhile to take care of some stuff, then pushed “play” again (a year and a half later). It honestly felt like i blinked… and then picked everything right back up.

I’m right back to scheduling rehearsals and concerts in my calendar, mapping out routes to the rehearsals feom my new job, worrying about how prepared I am musically, stressing about teaching sectionals, wedging in practice time, etc.

I think my job burn out and Covid burn out and musical burnout has taken a toll. I keep fantasizing about saying “peace out, bitched”, doing a massive mic drop and just disappearing to an island for like a year.

Maybe I’ll feel different once the routine of it all kicks in and I get my schedules dialed in. But right now instead of feeling joyous to be back in live music, I feel underwhelmed. And a tad unsettled.

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