Tidbits: New iPod, Lab Work, and more

Friday, 2004-08-20; 09:17:00

Hooray for tidbits!

So after complaining and griping about my old iPod breaking down and after swearing that I wouldn't buy a new one, I finally received my brand new iPod this past Wednesday. When the new version with a click wheel was announced, I realized that buying an old one just wasn't worth it. Plus, I only spent $300 instead of $400 for my old one (lol). I'm really enjoying having all my music back, especially since it has four times the capacity as the old one.

A few funny anecdotes about it so far:

1. I had it engraved on the back, since it was free when you purchase it through the online Apple store (which I had to do anyway to get the $30 educational discount). It says, "Sarcasm is the ultimate expression of intelligence." Haha, I love that, and if you know me well enough you'd probably get it as well. It's just under the character limit, too... you're limited to two 27-character lines. I split the sentence up into "Sarcasm is the ultimate" and "expression of intelligence.", and that second line is exactly 27 characters. Phew. :)

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to engrave -- I first tried to make up a clever expansion for "iPod" (as "incredibly Popular oratory device", but obviously that doesn't work well). A friend then suggested to just put something like ":rolleyes:", but I wanted something better. "Sarcasm breeds intelligence" was closer, but it didn't sound right; and then I made up "sarcasm is the ultimate expression of intelligence". Funny how if it had even costed a dollar, I wouldn't have spent all that time thinking about it. :)

(By the way, "sarcasm is the ultimate expression of intelligence" is NOT ironic -- it's sarcastic! It's really annoying when people mix up those two words.)

2. My iPod shipped incredibly fast, especially for a custom-engraved one. I ordered it early Monday morning (or late Sunday night), it shipped on Monday night from China, and FedEx tried to deliver it to my door early Wednesday morning. Obviously, I was checking the FedEx tracking status page almost every hour after it shipped, and so when I got home on Wednesday I immediately drove down to Sunnyvale to pick it up in person. (We haven't authorized FedEx to leave packages at our door, and I was the only one home at the time to pick it up.)

But the real reason I mention this is because the drive to Sunnyvale was horrific. It was around 4:30 PM, which isn't necessarily rush hour time. However, I think it was the combination of the excitement of getting my new iPod and the fact that I had printed out directions on MapQuest and was trying to read them while driving that made me really kind of twitchy and nervous. Driving on the freeway is normally fine for me (I drove like 5 or so hours on the freeway when coming back from my trip to Nevada this past May), but it was really nerve-wracking that day. There was one point where I exited the freeway and had to immediately cross about 4 lanes to turn left on a street, and there was another where I got in the wrong lane at an exit and I ended up not trying to get back into the correct lane because so many cars were around. When I finally got home (after picking up my new glasses prescription as well), I sat there for about a minute before going in. Sheesh. I guess I really haven't learned to actively do something else while driving yet.

3. The lab work that I've been doing for my research has been really time consuming and requires repeating a lot of the same steps over and over, so getting my iPod made lab work on Thursday and Friday seem to go much, much faster. I've even been listening to it despite the fact that I'm using the magnetic separator (I've read that it's a myth that magnets can damage hard drives). Anyway, yesterday I fell asleep listening to my iPod while waiting for my sample to process before going home. That gives a new meaning to "sleeping in lab". ;)


Another random funny incident that happened the other day: I was outside in the vegetable garden watering the plants, and I started to bring the hose back to the house. However, my parents had left a bunch of big tools resting upright against one of the plant boxes. One of them included a rake. As you may have already guessed, I stepped on the bottom part of the rake and the handle flew back and hit me. Lol, funny how that actually DOES happen in real life. (Luckily it didn't hit me in the head -- it just hit my arm, but it hurt for a few minutes after.)


And about the lab work that I'm currently doing: right now I'm past the crush/grind/wash stage, so I have some fine- to medium-grained sand from the rocks that were collected from my research area (Mono Lake/Long Valley). What needs to be done now is to separate the actual mineral crystals from the glass of the rocks, because the glass most accurately represents the composition of the original magma and can therefore give the best date for when the rock was formed. To do that, the Frantz magnetic separator is used.

The device is basically just one big electromagnet that has a track through the middle. One end of the track is where the sample is inserted; somewhere in the middle the track separates into two tracks, so you collect two separates at the other end of the track. The track vibrates as well, which "encourages" the grains to come down the track when ordinarily they would just stay in place. The slope of the track (that is, the angle the two ends of the track make relative to horizontal) is variable, the tilt of the track (which is the angle the two SIDES of the track make relative to horizontal) is also variable, as is the amount of current going through the electromagnet (which changes the intensity of the magnetic field) and the vibration of the track.

The tilt and the magnetic field are what makes the device work -- you tilt the track so that the force of gravity is opposing the vertical component of the force of the magnetic field; thus, the grains that are more magnetic (which is usually the glass) will move to one side of the track, while the non-magnetic grains will move to the other. It's pretty cool because the separation is usually really obvious -- often times the non-magnetic grains will be white (feldspars, usually), while the magnetic grains will be black.

It's a neat procedure, even if it does get kind of tedious when processing 19 samples. Oh, well; I suppose you can't get results without going through the whole process.


I’m here without you baby, but your still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby, and I dream about you all the time
I’m here without you baby, but you're still with me in my dreams
And tonight, it’s only you and me

"Here Without You", by 3 Doors Down

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