Monday, August 17, 2015

Curse you Perry the Platypus - On Being a Scientist

I know there are a few science types and geeks out there in Blogville - so after a somewhat stressful day - a little smile for those of you out there that will see a bit of yourselves in here. And as you can guess from the title - I love watching Phineas and Ferb. LBJ

Yes, it's a bulletproof clipboard.  It was sort of a gag gift from a dear friend and fellow squirrel, as short of dropping a piece of lab equipment on my toe, or falling off of a hill out in the field, my on the job danger level is pretty low.

I work with a pretty serious bunch but I'm not the only one that has a little toy from childhood, a car perhaps, a gadget, on my desk to pick up and hold quietly in the palm of my hand until the world falls back into equilibrium again

We all grow up, yet, we all do not, still children inside, even if we won't admit it.  For I have, on more than one occasion, been up on a stand in a courtroom as the expert witness, or offering testimony on a case of my own, doing the double take when I hear "Dr. Johnson" convinced for a moment they've got the wrong person. For honestly, on such days, there in my dark blue suit and button down white shirt and shiny shoes, I still feel like a kid playing grown up. Perhaps it's the sugary cereal I still eat, certain childhood toys and cartoons some of which till make me smile. Perhaps it's just how I view my life and my world.

But in what makes me smile, what makes my mind ignite, some things really never change. You probably see that as well. For in many families there is usually one child that has that deep seated curiosity that sets him or her apart from the others. Sometimes it's as subtle as a lot of "why" questions; sometimes it's finding out someone asked for a lathe from Santa. But for you new parents and grandparent out there in Blogille  here are some helpful hints to recognize if your child  or grandchild is going down the path of saving the world, one science experiment or engineering drawing at a time.

How to identify if your child is going to be the next engineer or scientist in your family (my father can relate to many of these).

All toys are first taken completely apart before playing with.

Hooks dogs leash to remote control car so he/she does not have to leave the porch to walk him.

Pumps up his or her Super Soaker with an industrial air compressor.

Can demonstrate  Bernoulli's Theorem with a shop vac and a golf ball.
Jello + BB Gun. Does anyone have a mop?

Installs Dad's stereo speakers in duct work for true "surround sound".

Freezes siblings chair with liquid nitrogen when he's foolish enough to be temporarily absent.

Rolls his/her eyes when you call a Pipe Wrench a Monkey Wrench.

Comes home from Sears with permission slip to buy a nail gun.

Asks for a large sheet of plywood and a saw horse or two to go with the toboggan at Christmas to better make the ski jump.

Uses Dremel tool to convert striped Phillip head screws into slotted screws. Opens the stuck jar of mayonnaise by puncturing the lid with a clean nail to break the vacuum.

After a day of playing "spy", uses the pressed,warm flat edge of a knife to convince a small piece of dry ice to spill the goods.  "We have ways of making you talk . . SQUEAL"

Solves Rubik Cube by disassembling and reassembling in the correct order. (Mad Scientist bonus: Disassembles and reassembles leaving it one cube out of place and leaves it for unsuspecting siblings).

Can repair any toy out of existing garage inventory

Has built a Bazooka out of a floor vacuum cleaner, PVC pipe, a PVC 3 way junction with an  angle of 45° that fits the straight PVC tube, duct tape and a projectile

Takes apart 36 inch model of Cutty Sark with a hammer to build a workable raft for G.I. Joe, accompanied by Barbie and Midge dressed up like Mary Ann and Ginger. (Note, raft not to be confused with a B.O.A.T., (Buoyancy Operated Aquatic Transport)
When given permission to build a tree house, presents a bill of materials including the proper number of nails.

Launches G.I. Joe/Star Wars Project to melt enemy troops with magnifying glass.

Makes Bionic Barbie (Formerly G.I. Joe raft date Mary Ann) with scraps of wire and auto body filler to replace leg lost in tragic potato gun accident.

When asked why he or she is borrowing the vice grips replies "I hear the tooth fairy pays good money."

Passes meatballs to little brother with  tiny trebuchet.

Trip to ocean involves buckets and plastic M80's for building and destroying sand castles.

Takes apart TV set "because there's nothing to watch".
Instead of marbles, has a jar full of nuts and screws. (Got bored playing marbles when discovery made that you can always win using a steel ball bearing.)

Discussion at parent/teacher conference involves discussion of intentional launch of schoolyard bully off of teeter totter to correlate weight and angle to trajectory.

Neighbor calls that your kid is in their back yard with a your lawn chair, duct tape, a two liter bottle of diet coke and Mentos (Remember kids, Mythbusters taught us to grind up the Mentos first!)

While Mom makes cookies, mixes Borax, white glue, water, and food coloring to make homemade slime.

Borrow tools and does not return them.

Has pet that works for OWCA.
So - if you have someone like this in your family, try and set a good example of research and safety (eye protection!). School them in the laws of man and physics (those fingers just won't grow back you know).  Then sit back and smile as you quietly watch them do the same things you used to do, remembering how, in the long run, it helped you learn and grow.

For you never know when such skills might come in handy, for that day you might meet pure Evil and he's just invented the "Delete-ALL-initor".


  1. Wow, wow, bow wow wow! I'm not sure where to start with this one. BOL My peeps can relate to most of this. Dad's a retired LEO and definitely a gadget guy. Mom's a Trekkie and loves all things science. OMD we want one of those clipboards here in my house!!
    Grr and Woof,
    Sarge, Police Commish

  2. Bionic Barbie! Lol I had a Bionic Woman doll as a child.

  3. Absolutely LOVE this Post....
    Mom says she taught some of those kind of Kidlets...
    She is in the middle of reading Saving Grace... and adoring every second of it...

  4. Hari OM
    ...oh yeeaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh..............same but different; it boils down to endless inventivity + inquisitivity = illuminosioso.

    Or something equally fab &*> YAM xx

  5. It would seem that the indications are all there if they are just observed and interpreted correctly!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

    Be sure to check out the OFFICIAL new blog for the 2016 Blogville Awesome Retreat (BAR) at:

  6. Wow. I resemble those remarks!

    This also is true about me... "I still feel like a kid playing grown up."

    Brigid, I am 65 and I still feel like I am fooling people into thinking I am a 'responsible' adult. I continue to want to take apart anything that I do not understand the workings of. For example, I do not understand all the gobbledygook inside my Rav4's engine compartment, but my husband has forbidden me to take it apart. I am, however, allowed to change the oil and other maintenance that does not involve 'sensors' for which I have no equipment...

    I sure miss my old (1964) slant-six Dodge Dart. I could fix anything on my Little Old Lady Mobile that got me through all those years (waaaay too many years) in college. Two frame kits and then finally, I had to admit that, at 300k miles, her timing was slipping enough to destroy the distributor drive gear within about 100 miles... I always carried spares ;-> Time to move on. OK. 1971 (red!!) MG Midget. Brand new, but needed constant tinkering... especially those pesky SU carbs.

    Anyway, too much information ;-> But you have a way of inciting memories in me!

    Fair Winds,

    Cap'n Jan


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