Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mid-January: Coffee and Dinosaurs

The month is just about half over, and it's a little more than a week before I go back to work. MOH is in go mode, back to work after 5 days off.

Although the sun has been out for a few days, and the temperatures have risen daily to freezing or above, it was quite cold today, starting out at 1 degree F at 7:00 am. The sun stayed out all day, the temperature rose to at least 28 F, with the wind chill making it feel more like zero. So much for just wearing a fleece vest while shopping this afternoon.

My little shopping trip was inspired by the breaking of our coffee pot this morning. Smash! I dropped the glass pot on the old wooden floor of our tiny little kitchen. So I braved the cold and drove out to get a new one. After checking out the selection of coffee makers at the hardware store, I decided on a standard 12-cup Mr. Coffee version from the grocery store, a version slightly better than the Proctor-Silex pot I broke. This new pot is our third coffee maker since we moved here in August.

Craig Medred of wrote an interesting article about the "new" wool v. synthetics. In it, he describes how our synthetic fibers, like polar fleece, come from dinosaurs:

It came from dinosaurs and prehistoric plant life. Their accumulating detritus got buried and, eventually, this organic matter was put under enough pressure that it turned into that black ooze known as crude oil.

Petroleum engineers came along and pumped it out of the ground. Chemical engineers figured out how to break it down into individual hydrocarbon molecules. Eventually, someone figured out how to manipulate those molecules into fabrics.
This is, perhaps, an example of a classic geologic misconception - not that it really bothers me. I grew up a dinosaur buff, perhaps from the first time I saw the dinosaur bones at the Smithsonian Institute when I was five years old. In fact, I may have grown up, at least in my early years, believing the dinosaur-to-petroleum misconception, which was fostered somewhat by the Sinclair Oil gas stations , which had (and have) a dinosaur as a logo. Anyway, I think it's rather romantic to think that dinosaurs died and gave us the energy we use today, even thought it's really the environment that they lived in - marshes and fens and bogs - that turned into the petroleum we pump out of the ground.

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