Thursday 17 October 2013

Working in Ottawa today --Live better through chemistry

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today.

Get back to work!  Yes, that's right folks - the U.S. has has ended their bickering for now and have passed law that will provide for paying of the bills.  Yawn.

U.S. Federal employees are to report back to work this morning.

But what the hell was this about you ask?  (You did, it wasn't very loud, but you were asking).

Sigh.  The U.S. has private health insurance.  And a huge number of folks there can't afford it.  A family of four could pay 7, 8, 9, $1000 per month easily, moreover the insurance companies invariably rule persons uninsurable if they have prior conditions.

The Obamacare plan is to level the field, make all persons insurable and to subsidize (ooooh evil scary word) those that cannot afford the full pop.  The Tea Party anti-care plan is to thwart the implementation.  This of course despite that Obamacare was a campaign item, was proposed in law, was voted on and passed and signed into law.

If you ask me, those Tea Party folks are just plain UN-AMERICAN! They don't seem to believe in the democratic process of the U.S.  

Incidentally, they raise the invalid argument that Obamacare puts a bureaucracy between citizen and his doctor, and involves the gov't and corporations in healthcare.  yeah?  So?  That is the system that you have -- I notice that you bastards weren't giving up your own health insurance!  Seem quite satisfied to have Kaiser Permanente involved in your own trips to the G.P.

After all, this is really about NOT sharing the wealth, about NOT having tax dollars help out those most in need.   Ah screw it, I don't have the energy to write about it.


Anything else Interesting in your life there Pucky?

Uh. Yeah!  I have been working on water recipes.  Since starting down the road of making my own carbonated aqua (, I had come to conclusion that my tap (and filtered) water was boring.  

it is not very hard, low calcium, low magnesium, low total dissolved salts in general.  

Side bar here.  Not all salts are the evil heart stopping sodium chloride.  Salts are a class of ionic compounds, NaCl being just one of them.

My first plan was to raise the magnesium content of my water into the 50 mg/L range and the calcium above 200 mg/L.  This required a shopping trip. I figured the best way to raise the magnesium was through magnesium sulphate heptahydrate, should be cheap, easy to find, and generally considered safe, After all MgSO4-7H2O is better known as Epsom Salt.  As long as you find USP rated, it is safe to consume.  Bear in mind that at couple of teaspoons quantities it will increase you washroom activities, but I as using WAY less :).          

The next was the calcium.  Yeah.  I first tried calcium carbonate.  Bad idea.  I had tried to shop for Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) but was generally unsuccessful as apparently pharmacists are not aware that this stuff is about as dangerous as Jello and I was met with very suspicious looks and much typing into their computers.   

One pharmacist did offer that she had calcium carbonate (CaCo3), and while at first I passed, I reconsidered.  After all, calcium carbonate is calcite.  Calcite is what deposits around natural springs, and what the hell, I was trying to make spring water.

It was in the trying that I understood why the calcite deposits are there.  Water deep in the earth is under high pressure.  There are also large Co2 deposits, spring water is often naturally carbonated.  This highly pressurized Co2 charged water has a fairly low pH (carbonic acid is formed when carbonating water) and is able to dissolve the calcium carbonate.  Upon the water exiting the spring and as the pressure falls rapidly, the Co2 exits the water (Le Chateleir's principal), the water's pH raises and the calcium carbonate precipitates, that is, it falls out of the water much like rain falls out of clouds.

Try as I might, I could not create a strong enough carbonic acid even at 55 PSI to dissolve the 200 mg/L that I aimed for.  Only about half of that, and just had this annoying 'rainfall' of white particles in my water.  Not appetizing at all, although it did look a little like of one those snow --- ???  What are those things called, the Christmas scene in a plastic bubble with white flecks... maybe even calcium carbonate snowing down?

Back to shopping!  It was after searching unsuccessfully for a chemical supplier for calcium chloride (at less that 100 Kg quantities) that I found that a product used by home pickle makers, Pickle Crisp, has but one ingredient.  Calcium chloride. Yay!

The long and short of it is that I know have 2 liters of delicious carbonated mineral water in my refrigerator with around 220 mg/L of calcium and around 60 mg/L of magnesium - about the same as San Pellagrino but with less sodium.

I know, not very exciting, but next I plan on adding potassium chloride and perhaps some iodine and selenium!  I can barely contain my own anticipation!!

Have a great day.  Drink up.

Remember, I am not a chemist but have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Working in Montréal today --Zen and the Art of Panhandling

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Montréal today

Friends.. I must share with you the teachings of Chinul.  Chinul is Jinul, also Bojo but was born Jeong.  Yes, more name changes than a Boris Pasternak novel.  Jinul was from the early 12th century, a Korean Buddhist monk and the only reason that he is mentioned here is his fundamental teaching that for all of us, becoming a Buddha is within our reach and that our true nature is always known to us, even when it is not, but discoverable in a single moment of clarity or epiphany.

Okay Uncle Daniel, you have our attention, we liked the duality of the 'is/is not' thing but don't wander too far..

Don't worry, I won't. But it's not really a duality, since the two states are not divisible, it really is a dichotomy wrapped up in a Gestalt.

But I digress, this morning I read a note that a friend of mine from high school sent me and within she explained that: 

"..The campground job is over for the season. I am back on the job hunt - again. I could teach yoga but I'm feeling like I have more to learn about myself first. So I may just sit downtown with a cup and take in alms. I'll let you know how lucrative that is.." -- M

This is where some persons would attempt to dissuade her from the life of squeegee kid and to pursue the theatre or other arts but I say, embrace the career path that may unfold.  Experience the Zen in becoming the best at what one does, regardless of what one does.

And what is good, Phaedrus, And what is not good -- Need we ask anyone to tell us these things? --R.M. Persiq (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

Um.. Thanks Uncle Daniel, but how does this quote help us?

Well.. I could tell you, but it would not do you any good, Zen is not an intellectual discipline you can learn from reading a Pulp or be taught by or from the likes of me but rather it is a practice of studying one's self and seeing into one's own nature. The main tool of this practice is zazen.

Zazen Uncle, like Zazeen, the new IP TV service?  No.  Not like Zazeen.  May I continue now with less interruption please? It is a short flight and I have still much to write.

Consider that the most successful rusty cup supplicants (don't bother googling -I just strung that together) have the best affectations; ticks, twitches, and Tourettes are nothing to turn one's nose up at and if done well can maximize returns.  Seasoned pros of course can fake an amputation, not much else has more of an effect than raising up a cup tied to a dirty bandaged stump where a hand may once have been, "please sir, I have 3 hungry children at home and I need new bandages too".  Best for the suffering, the Dukkha, to be worn where others can see it and enjoy it too.

Have we considered the inner peace the knowledge of one's self gained by these cup shakers?  Zazen is a meditation form where there is no clear objective nor goal nor path, can be done singly or in a group and through which one may gain enlightenment or they will not.  Can you propose a craft, a trade, a vocation which provides any greater opportunity for such goalless sitting than this?

But Uncle Daniel, isn't the meditation part really quite optional and that all is really required to achieve enlightenment is to be able to recite koans?

I could answer you, but that would be like showing you the peak that cannot be seen.

Uh.. Thanks, that was very .. illuminating and at the same time annoying.  Do you have any other tips to maximize the spare change pursuit for us Uncle Daniel?

Yes, but just one.  Please do avoid chasing people down the street screaming that you want spare change for some soup -- it hurts the entire industry and brings about contempt by the other corner coin cup claimants.

This last proviso must be said, as two nights ago while downtown at the ROM for the Chilean Wine Festival, walking around to the side of the ROM looking for the secret entrance (I could tell you more, but it's a secret) when a woman called after me and when I turned she screamed that she wanted soup.

I considered stopping and discussing the matter, but was concerned that it would lead to lengthly discussion over the merits of the tomato over cream; cream over broth bases as well as could lead to a comparative analysis of Eastern European borscht.  I quickly explained that I had no soup. 

She stopped in her walk, and simply terminated the short lived discussion with.. 'oh'.

It was then that I considered the answer to my friend lay within her question (yes I know you read no question, but does not the question not queried remain to be yet answered?)

The Dukkha, the Zazen, the Enlightening, Nivana, the Buddha are all one.

My friend should teach Yoga, should learn about herself and yes, she should sit downtown with a cup.

Street corner Yoga for spare change and enlightenment.

Have a great day.  Peace out.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Working in Ottawa today --Small town hero makes good!

Good morning folks, 

I will be working in Ottawa today.

A few updates..

Alun (the Welsh guy to whom I gave a black eye last week) is near fully recovered with just a hint of his black eye, just a wee line of bruising along the Zygomatic bone.  So after game play at the pub last night, I did the right thing.  I bought Alun a Guiness.  This prompted two things.

a) Alun was quite surprised that I had picked up his tab.  I explained that it is an easy rule of mine.  If I give you a black eye, I will buy you a beer.

b) Leo, sitting at the end of the table became rather agitated.  "What the hell!", Leo exclaimed, "Daniel breaks 3 of my ribs and takes me out of the game for five weeks and didn't buy me a beer!".  Yeah.. Sorry about that Leo, but you see, you ran into me and subsequently hit the deck.  Whereas I fired a line drive into Alun's eye (albeit protected by safety equip).

The bottom line, if you had blackened your eye on the way down, then I would have bought you a beer, better luck next time :)


Next out of the gate..

Mayor Rob F. F. Ford's friends.. what a bunch.  You can headline a newspaper with that and not even bother writing an article.  Allesandro Lesi, described by friend Ford as "a stand up guy, following the straight and narrow" was arrested yesterday for a variety of drug trafficking and conspiracy charges.  This same guy claims that he supplied drugs to Ford.  The F. F. needs a better class of friends.


Anything else this fine Thursday morning?

Obama vs The Tea Party?  Much ado about nothing if you ask me.  Obamacare is too little and will not do the job.  While yes, it eliminates ineligibility so all can buy health insurance, it is still for-profit insurance.   So I am sure that the insurance companies will still shaft it to the sick and injured.  CLAIM DENIED!.  The Obamacare plan does nothing to provide universal coverage, nothing to provide equal care, and nothing to provide any cost containment.  Don't worry it will be a profit hay day for the insurance companies.

Why is the GOP/TeaParty against it?  Well it is a Democrat party initiative, therefore by fiat it must be bad, and although a thousand miles from an actual Socialist program, the Right thinks it is.

Dumb, dumb, dumber.


Lastly, Small rown hero makes a comeback!

Yes, after three years since his likeness was torn down and removed from his birth place, Losif Dzhugashvili will once again stand proud in the town square of Gori, Georgia.

That's right kids, that fun loving guy better known as Joseph Stalin will have his six meter statue once again erected.  It's been 60 years since his death, but Stalin still provokes conflicting emotions in Georgia.  Murderous dictator or hero that defeated Hitler?  Creator of the Gulag prison system and horrific 'purges' over three decades, or bringer of idealism and stability?

In the words of Gregory Shvedov (on the Board for Memorial - Human Rights org), "Maybe he was evil.. [but] everyone respected us.. everyone was afraid of our country". Effectively I think he is trying to say, Yes he was a son of a bitch, but he was their son of a bitch.

okay then.

Have a great day.