Posted by: David | June 8, 2008

Birthday 52

It was hot as hell today. My 52nd birthday. Suddenly summer. I went to the supermarket early, before it really got that hot. I brought home the bacon for our waffle breakfast. The waffle maker makes heart-circle shaped waffles. They were yummy, but I burned the bacon. Serves me right.

By 10:15, when dog and I usually head to the transfer station, it was getting steamy. Especially inside my dark coloured car. Oliver was hot too. Apparently panting right in my face helps him keep cool. Funny, since it made me sweat like crazy. Going for a bike ride, even though I put a brand new chain on my Fuji Touring bike last night, was out of the question. Rather it was hanging out in the basement, phone-blabbing to all my fans calling to wish me a happy (both of them!), watching TV (The Punisher was on FX ), and vegetating that I chose to do on my 52nd birthday. Interrupted by occasional trips to the interweb. Where I found this photo on the Large Hadron Collider blog site.

To get the scale of this machine, see the guy with the blue hardhat in the lower left corner.

The little tuby thingy running up the center of this picture is what they’re calling the “beampipe”. It’s where the particles will be zooming around before they crash into each other. After they crash all that machinery around it will pick up the pieces, so to speak. Bear in mind that this apparatus is NOT for any particularly practical application, but is for purely experimental research. Then look at the picture again. I’ve written before that I was a little worried about this, due to varied speculation on things like mini-black holes and such, but then I found this picture a few months ago.

Do yourself a favor and check out the cute scientist lady. Zoom in …

I don’t know what these guys are doing. Checking to see if the vacuum is sucking hard enough maybe? Or if the liquid helium is cold enough? Or maybe calibrating the beam pipe? It all sounds so dirty when I say it. Maybe they’re just waiting for their lunch break. It’s just SCIENCE dude! In a 27 kilometer ring 100 feet underneath the countryside north of Geneva, using the largest machine ever built. In history.

No worries! There are hot chicks making sure it’s all working right. Hot chicks and super nerdy science men with laptops and hardhats. You can sleep tonight! Oh, and whoever you are, pretty lady in the photo above that I snagged off the LHC website, no offense! I know you can’t help it that you’re HOT. Please do good work. I am one of the billions that want to know more about the first milliseconds after the Big Bang. Bring it to me. I want Higg’s boson on a silver platter! By July 4th. But let’s skip the fireworks. I hate them!


  1. Happy Birthday Dave!!!! πŸ™‚ …and since I’ve seen a few pics of yourself that you’ve posted…you look GREAT….52? Wow…we really do live in an age where “age is just a number”, ’cause you look fantastic in an inappropriate way, if I may say so…lol.. πŸ˜‰

    PS: hot scientist chick has got it goin ON!!! πŸ˜‰

    Oh Romi, you’re too funny. Don’t make me blush. πŸ˜€ Appropriate R Us.

    Age really IS just a number. Inside my brain I still feel like an idiot teenager. Sometimes. OK a lot maybe. But being this old, at least I have the perspective to recognize when I’m being childish.

    That photo of the technicians looks straight out of any number of sci fi TV shows or movies. Except scientist lady would have bigger boobs. That’s how you know it’s real life I guess. I’ll stop now.

  2. Hey bambino – now I am all caught up after reading your blog. I had a similar actual birthday napping in air conditioning with Artemisia and Daedalus. Your garden looks fabulous – even without plants!! the missing cairn is sad, Oliver is a pip and the biking has surely been good to you! And I am going to try that breakfast concoction. Mulching first – I have to try that too.
    ————HAPPY BIRTHDAY!—————

    Thanks LKR! You’ve summed up my key talking points nicely. Biking+oats+flax meal = healthy colon. I miss the cairn too. It’s still not there as of today. Before the summer is out, I will have to do something about this.

    [FYI- LKR’s date of birth is exactly one year and one day before mine.] I hope your birthday was nice too. Catnapping sounds very nice!

    Mulching first is one of those fundamentals like sweeping dirt DOWN the stairs. You can do it either way, but one way is much easier.

  3. Yea, another Gemini! Happy Birthday Dave!

    You too C! When’s your birthday?

  4. Happy Birthday Dave!

    Hmmm… I love science. πŸ˜€

    Thanks Nimish! I wish I could have stayed 42 a bit longer. 😦

  5. Happy Birthday, David. Glad to hear it was a great day!

    Thank you B&G.

  6. Happy Birthday, David! I did think of you on your birthday although my silence probably spoke otherwise. I love the science pictures — the super collider is one of the gigantic, whirling, super-cool money pits of our time. When we find out what it is for all the billions of dollars will make sense. Cross your fingers! Anyway — loved the photo of the groovey scientists — made me harken back to great cinema like It Came from Outer Space; and besides being my birth year as well — 1956 brought us the likes of Earth vs The Flying Saucers, Forbidden Planet, IT Conquered the World and Mole People. And if that scientist lady doesn’t know about the mole people I think you should ride your bike over there and warn her!! Happy Birthday!

    Thanks Carol! Yer Ma sent me a very lovely card.

    And yes absolutely on the way that photo evokes every sci fi flick ever made. I think you’re right, I SHOULD try to warn her!

  7. Happy Birthday Dave!

    but seriously… how can you hate fireworks?

    Thanks dragonfly3085!

    The visual beauty of fireworks I get from looking at flowers and plants. Fireworks are just fancied up bombs and more air pollution. I don’t like exploding stuff, even if it’s pretty. That’s just me.

    Please don’t let it disturb your enjoyment of fireworks in the least little bit! πŸ˜€

  8. Happy Birthday, Danny boy!

    I am again in a hurry because I am late on my tax declaration. 120 pages of instructions to read. Do you hate fireworks?

    As I may have told you, Spain has suddenly become rich, terribly fast, horrendously rich, and I ran all over the Google forum to find out how that was possible : how? how? how? Some said it was black money hurting from the obligatory Peseta-Euro conversion. Some said it was debt creation. Some thought it was a gamble on the Euro. Could never find it out! (There might be a collapse now, but nobody says anything yet.)

    Anyway, one awful symptom of that wealth are horrible fireworks to celebrate anything, Christmas, football, Saint Mary, idiotic and expensive. And I feel sorry for the swallows and the other birds that sleep flying at high altitude and for the other animals, too.

    Thanks cantueso for the birthday wishes. You don’t think I’m Irish do you?

    Congratulations to Spain on becoming wealthy! I had not heard of this. Maybe it won the lottery?

    I like your thoughts on fireworks as a symbol of explosive, disruptive waste.

    What is this about birds that sleep while flying?!?!

  9. Well I’m shocked. I thought you really were just an idiot teenager! Now that I know the truth I am truly impressed. You really do look great. Do you think it’s all the bike riding, or is it from driving around with the dog? Maybe dog breath has restorative properties. πŸ™‚
    Happy Birthday Dave!

    Not a teenager, but a full fledged idiot for sure. I don’t think the dog breath helps, but maybe the dog farts? Most likely it’s plain dumb luck. Thanks Wendy!

  10. You missed it. Day after yours.

    Well happy birthday to you too. You and joanharvest. What a lucky day for the world June 9 was!

  11. I thought the same thing as Romi .. you lookin’ hot, MrDavid!!
    Hope you had a most wonderful Birthday!!!!

    Oh you fine, fine ladies! Thank you. Besides looking good, I am a pretty nice guy! But a little shy and self-involved. I had a pretty peaceful birthday. I made a macaroni salad for dinner with leftover sliced chicken, chopped asparagus, and a bunch of other crap. It was really good so I should try to make it again.

  12. it’s true. he is All That.

    HB, 0’D!

    Thanks vermonter! πŸ˜€ All What? πŸ˜€

  13. I am way into hadron colliders and so I got a HUGE kick out of this post. (I am particularly smitten with the spectra they draw which look like dandelions or eyeruses – or iri or what ever they’re called.) One of my favorite stories about CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, though, has nothing to do with Science. It’s the one in the NY Times which refers to it as the large “hardon” collider. Did you see it?

    Wow what an incredible image! Thanks so much for the link. It totally trumps galactic vinegar.

    Large Hardon Collider, that is a frackin RIOT. My mind just froze up trying to thing of all the possible jokes. Oh shoot, now it’s gone limp … another trillion volts Scotty!!

  14. Well, it’s pretty hard to top the Times’ own copy: “…the [LHC] is designed to fire up protons to energies of seven trillion electron volts before banging them…”

    What ever jolts your boat, I guess…


    It IS pretty hard!! Ahem.

  15. P.S., @Romi, cover your eyes. You’re too young for this kind of talk.

  16. …but I’m all grown up Vermonter!! It’s time for me to explore new horizons…there’s so much for me to see and “DO”…you know? Hahahaha…

    Yes, vermonter, clearly Romi has experience beyond her less-than-30 years. Even if she’s a little scared.

    Maybe you could help “analyze the data” produced by large hardon collisions? Hmmm? I bet you’d like that Romi πŸ˜€

  17. Swallows sleep in the air. Didn’t you know? They come here, build a nest, but they don’t sleep in that nest. They sleep in the air. I simply like the thought of it and imagining it makes me sleepy. They rest on currents of air. They sleep there just as fish sleep in water.

    I did NOT know this, and I find it rather incredible. Is this really a known fact? Fish sleeping in water is not really comparable since they are more buoyant than birds are in the air. I like the thought of it too, but find it simultaneously disturbing. Air must be a wonderful mattress, but free fall doesn’t sound like a sleep-inducing activity. I guess if you’re only going to sleep for a few minutes … I learned a few interesting things about swallows during my web-crawl to discover more about this sleep flying, so thank you for that cantueso. πŸ™‚

  18. Gee, I don’t know Dave… I think I’m with cantueso on this one — “free fall” sounds *totally* conducive to a long Dirt Nap to me… :o)

    Right … The Big Sleep! Perchance to scream!

  19. You don’t seem to know how airplanes fly. Weight is no factor. Design is all.

    Cut through the wing in the direction of flight : The upper and the lower surfaces of the wing both are curved. The upper surface curve is bigger. Hence the stream of air passing across it during flight will have to travel a slightly longer way than the stream of air passing under the wing : and for this reason the pressure on that upper surface is less than on the lower surface. The difference is the lift.

    I did translations on that and know all about it. I would think that storks and those enormous wild geese, all sleep in the air, wings outstretched.

    Even an immense jumbo can float for a long time with the engines off. Because of air resistance he looses speed, and so less air will travel across those wings and slowly his nose will start looking downwards….

    My tax declaration has not advanced very much. UÀÀÀ. Later I will try and get you info on how these birds travel how many 100 miles? flying during the day and sleeping at night without ever landing. Very pretty thing.

    As I’ve stated often, the shit I don’t know could fill a book or ten. Obviously the physics makes it possible, but it still bothers me to think of birds flying in their sleep. It’s just me I guess … I sure hope the pilot on my next jumbo jet flight isn’t sleeping!

  20. I don’t understand why you ask whether I think that you are Irish. Must be a reference to something that is commonly attributed to the Irish. What is it?

    Irish-Americans cannot gather together and drink WITHOUT singing the song O Danny Boy within 1 hour and 45 minutes of the official drunkening. No offense to any Irish Americans who might be reading this. I love many many things of Ireland. Really!

  21. And I don’t know why I called you Danny, unless it is because a friend of a friend’s name here is Danny and I must have read or heard “happy birthday Danny” many times.

    Well at least you have plausible deniability. I can completely accept randomness. My son’s name was Danny too.

  22. Happy, happy belated birthday, Mr. T.0. Dave! No way are you 52– you type about 28. I think that there should be some sort of formula for calculating age: chronological years – maturity level – emotional age. This would make me 16, which is good, because although I’d have to sneak beers, I’d still be able to drive, and I wouldn’t have to decide what to do about the election.

    Sounds like you had a wonderful day! Here’s to many more.

    Thank you moonbeam. πŸ˜€ I’ll take your comment on typing at “about 28” as a compliment. Just the right amount of maturity. Turning 30 was more of a big deal for me emotionally than 40 or 50. 60 I can wait for … Hope you’re doing well in your extended re-employment. Say hello to Theo for me!

  23. Instead of floating, I should have said gliding. This is what planes and birds do. Only a helicopter would simply fall down like a brick. A crashing plane’s way down would still be a curve. Have you seen gliders? that stay up for hours? The big heavy planes do the same. The difference is not in the weight, but in the speed that guarantees a large flow of air across the surfaces of the wings.

    I am quite comfortable with the aerodynamics cantueso, it’s the sleeping part that gets to me. You know what it is? Have you ever had the sensation, when drifting off to sleep, of a sudden falling feeling that jolts you awake? That’s what is bugging me about thinking of birds sleeping in flight. But we’re not birds are we?

  24. “A Wandering Albatross and Arctic Tern might spend several years without coming to land. They can sleep while gliding and have wings which, when they are stretched right out, look like the wings of a jet plane.”

    I could not get it confirmed for the swallow yet. The idea is the same. How otherwise would they travel from here to South Africa? Some have wings so long that if they land, they cannot take off again and they will die.

    How romantic! Wings so long they must fly their entire lives else they perish. Is this possible? There is a professor at my college that I can ask about this. He studies birds often. He also is an avid cyclist.

  25. “large hardon collisions”?!??!?! I totally shouldn’t have just read that while I was at work, hahaha… πŸ™‚

    Come ON Romi! You are supposed to be “analyzing the data” from these collisions. Well, have you found Higgs’ Boson yet?? Well?

    How ’bout now?


  26. My girlfriend loves fireworks. We spent years chasing them. She’s still enthusiastic but now we’re less into the chase. One reason may be that our house is on a hill so, by standing in the middle of the cul-de-sac, you can see fireworks from Boston to points far North.

    That doesn’t mean we stay put, far be it, but we get a little appetizer before she makes the final decision and we hightail to the chosen destination.

    She’s an Elk at a oceanside lodge so we often end up there. One year they seemed to be getting to the finale too soon. I kept saying something was wrong and it seemed as if they were dumping the explosives.

    I was, as usual, told I was an idiot by all around. The reason it seemed like that was the smoke getting in the way of the cloud cover. No one convinced me I was wrong but they all seemed happy with their conclusion.

    Until a minute later when I said,

    “The barge is on fire.”

    And damn Skippy if the tone of those around me changed (I was still an idiot but for other reasons). We all sat there, from a safe distance, watching the barge burn itself out.

    That’s a funny story! I hope nobody was hurt.

    Our little town used to shoot the fireworks almost directly over the crowd’s heads. Ash, smoke, and other particulates would rain down on the spectators. Kept the mosquitoes away to some extent. But it was really kinda dangerous. I can see them from my house sort of. Just below the treetops. That suits me fine. Our dogs have never been big fans either.

  27. I hope you had a great birthday Dave. Sounds like you had an enjoyable one.
    Maybe it is the common swift that everyone is thinking of. Apparently they do sleep while flying. According to the “common swift” site they stay permanently in the air for 2 or 3 years, starting when very young.
    By the way, I love the pics of the cairn. Thanks for updating them so tha we can see the evolution.

    Thanks lakecrazy. It was a pretty nice day. Now playing with full deck (52).

    I bet you’re right about the common swift. It’s not that I didn’t want to believe cantueso, it’s just that the notion of sleeping in flight is disturbing.

    Seeing the cairn rebuilt was a really great pick-me-up for the last few miles of that tiring ride. How silly to pay such attention to a pile of stones.

  28. FTR, *I* am Irish American and it has been fully *6* hours since I had even faint thready themes from Danny Boy wafting through *my* consciousness.

    If you want to sling ethnic slurs about us Irish-Americans, might I suggest that you set aside our balladeering (we actually have pretty decent musical taste) and impugn instead our national dish, the tater tot.

    Vermonter, my characterization of the Danny Boy Singing Effect applies only to groups of Irish-Americans getting drunk together. It’s probably only that way in the movies. I apologize to any Paddies I might have offended with my slur slinging. Thanks for inventing the tater tot and makin the wondrous Irish music. I’m sure my wife has The Green in her too, bein’ a redhead and all.

  29. Long wings: not just the swallows. I heard about that first from my grand dad who was a mountain guide and once had to shoot an eagle. The eagle had landed and could not take off again.

    And in Madrid, where I lived on the third floor of an apartment building and one of the windows looked out onto a patio, a large tiled surface which was in fact the roof of a garage — there a swallow had landed and could not get airborne anymore and hopped around, terrible to watch. And I tried to throw food, but some fell onto a neighbour’s terrace below, and he looked up and shouted. — So I was getting mentally ready to sit around and watch that swallow die, but could not and finally found somebody willing to go and climb out onto that roof and throw the swallow up in the air. That was all! He took off like an arrow!

    They land on power lines, but I don’t know where they landed before there were power lines.

    This is even more disturbing than your previous writings about flying while sleeping. Getting stranded on land unable to take off again is perhaps the opposite nightmare to in-flight slumber. But your swallow rescue story is very nice, thanks πŸ™‚ I imagine that in the time being your downstairs neighbour understands what was really happening, in case he happens to care about grounded swallows …

  30. At the time I did not speak Spanish well enough. But I have been in that situation many times where I could not speak, just had to shut up. (I can’t speak English very well either.)

    Where I am now there is a terrace and I feed the sparrows. There is a family of sparrows living next-tree. I give them cooked rice or dry mΓΌesli depending on how much wind there is. They prefer rice, though.

    Here, I have never seen a bird feeder of the kind that you have, those transparent cylinders with little bars for the birds to sit on.

    The sparrows are so small they can’t eat on their own. Often they sit down in a neat line on the rim of the terrace wall and mummy feeds them one by one by running up and down the line of wide open beaks.

    Sometimes they try to push each other off the wall.

    Birds sure are fun to watch aren’t they? This is why we feed them. The tube feeders are well used by our birds. We have some, such as young woodpeckers, that don’t eat any seeds but just fling them out rapidly, as though practicing for pecking on a tree. The ground feeding birds like the mourning doves are glad for this.

  31. That big machine, the first photo on this page .. I can’t see a man with a blue helmet. There is a yellow square and at one of its corners there is a vertical dark thing : is that it?

    And I see that in June I was still trying to find out where that sudden wealth here came from. By now this has become obvious as part of Bush’s inflation, surely. However, now the riddle has changed its terms. Now Spain is in the news for having a more solid banking system than almost anybody else. That is very nearly impossible. So what is it?

    There are between 500 000 and 1 500 000 flats unsold here. The population is maybe 45 000 000.

    Yes, that’s it. At the top left corner of that yellow square, the man with the blue hardhat stands. If you click on the photo to see it enlarged, you’ll see that he’s actually got his left hand on the yellow square thingy and his right hand on his hip.

    I read in someone else’s blog a little rant that this financial crisis and “bailout” is nothing but the right-wing establishment thieves’ final looting run, having seen that their time was shortening with the election polls consistently leaning leftward all through the campaign season.

    About Spain’s solidity- please, you tell me. What is it?

  32. About 3 hours later:

    I found it out. It is simple and goes like this:
    All over the world banks invested directly or indirectly in the US mortgage market, but the Spanish banks did not because they had their own mortgage market to invest in. Ever since Spaniards began to default on their mortgages, the Spanish banks have been going to the European Central Bank that has been giving them credits backed by those mortgages!

    That these could also be subprime has not yet occurred to anybody? Rather, nobody wants to “open another melon” as the saying is here, meaning bring up another problem.

    That IS simple. Hooray for Spain. Do you think that they’ll open another melon? (Love that expression! I think our equivalent expression is decidedly less elegant: “to open a can of worms”) I’m an ignoramus on matters of economics. I would like to see the prime rate become zero, and toss all the money-grubbing scumbags into the bread and soup lines with the rest of us. We need an economic system that is immune to fear and greed.

  33. Now I think that the intermittence of my internet connection is not due to my provider, but to WordPress, because I do not have the problem when I go to the newspapers or to my hotmail. It could be that WordPress has to save on its European business.

    I can log in, mostly. And I can type. But I can’t “save” my posts and so have trouble re-editing. While I am at WordPress, the connection light on my modem is off. It only comes on when I click. Now, while I type, it remains off. And then, when I need to “save”, on that grey bar at the bottom of the screen, it goes like crazy saying “connecting to….” , “waiting for…”, connecting to..” 20 or 30 or 50 times before something happens!

    And I often re-edit for an hour at a time.

    I have also seen a lot of latency in WordPress over the past six months. I wonder if they have outgrown their server pool with all the millions of bloggers that have jumped on to the blogging bandwagon. But who knows? I got a lot of hits Googling “WordPress slowness”.

    One way to eliminate the possibility of your home setup as a contributor to the problem would be to try using another computer somewhere else to do some testing logged in to WordPress. If you have access to a public library or university computer maybe you’d find something out. But the fact that your other browsing is unaffected is telling. Do you regularly clear your browser’s cache? There is a nice little piece of freeware called CCleaner that helps with this, though each browser has its own way to clear out the temporary files.

    Remember “BlogDesk”? You pointed that out to me some time ago. That could be helpful for composing posts when your connection to WordPress is problematic. No?

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