Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Plastinate and Plastique

Is there anything left?
Maybe Steak and Eggs
Waking up to washing up
And making up your bed
Lazy days
My razor blade
Could use a better edge
--Elton John/Bernie Taupin
Well.... A lot to talk about. This past weekend my family and I went to the Bodyworlds exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston. It was incredible; I didn't expect it to be as rich as it was; there was a lot to see. It consisted of exhibits of all of the major organ systems of the human body with audio commentary and displayed printed information as well. All of the bodies and organs displayed were from people who donated themselves to science, and the it was very well done. Every body and body part was preserved in what is known as Plastinate, which is a proprietary substance which, from what I gather, not only preserves the organ but also encases it. There were organs available to handle as well, a brain and a liver, and they definitely felt like hard plastic because of the process they were subjected to.
One of the best aspects of the exhibit, at least for me, was how everything looked all together, as far as body systems go. I've seen human anatomy in textbooks, but to see it in 3-D color was incredible. It's hard to believe that everything in the human anatomy can fit together in such a tight space. Some of the exhibits showed disease processes in organs, for example, cancerous tumors in various organs, the effects of lung cancer and black lung (makes me glad I'm not a smoker), and some sagittal slides of an obese person side-by-side with a non-obese person. It got my attention and made me get back on the wagon, in terms of working out and eating healthier. In my job it's easy to make excuses not to do either of those two things, but I want to live to see my grandchildren graduate from college. I am 6'2" and weigh in at 285 lbs. I'd like to get a chunk of that off so if I ever have post-mortem sagittal slides taken of my body I don't have the inch of blubber around me. It was gross.
Anyone who has teenage daughters will understand my aggravation - my younger daughter is 14, acts like she's 30, and looks like she's 20. I feel like there are days when all I have to do is open my mouth and I get yelled at for nothing. It drives me crazy. Then there are the days where she tells me she wants nothing to do with me (which is often) because I'm her father. I'm starting to get used to that, though; I think that there is some code between teenage girls that says they have to hate their fathers.
I built an antenna for the shortwave receiver I got for Christmas. It is what is known as a "Canadian Whip", the reason being it was designed by a Ham Radio operator from Nova Scotia, and supposedly he used a hockey stick as the mast. I used a 4-foot dowel for mine (because I live below the 45th parallel :-) and wound approximately 100 feet of 24-gauge speaker wire around the dowel. After that I attached a feeder line from the dowel to the radio - the feeder line was approximately 25 feet long, and I attached the dowel to one of the storm drains that sits alongside the house. Once it was all up and everything was attached, I tested it, and it seems to work pretty well at 49 meters and at 33 and 25 meters, but I'm going to have to do some tuning to get AM to come in reasonably. It's funny; I can get some local AM (one of the Manchester stations comes in clearly) but I can't get Boston stations (WRKO and WBZ will come in marginally in the morning, but almost not at all at night) to speak of. AM skip, however, works reasonably - I can get WOR most nights as well as one of the CBC AM stations located near Sherbrooke, Quebec. That all said, I'm still working out the tuning problems, and I suspect that the mountain that is directly to my front has something to do with the problematic AM reception. FM, on the other hand, works nicely - I can get all the way down to Providence, RI, from my desktop. go figure.
More to follow on later. First, I gotta get out of work.

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