Help Wanted: Maid, Must Be Willing To Travel

Every once in a while a story comes along that makes me not feel so bad about misplacing my keys, or becoming distracted on a trip to town and forgetting to pick up the main item I went there for…

Back during the Apollo moon missions, there were dust detectors deployed on the moon. They gathered data on the buildup of dust, then the braniacs at NASA “lost” the data. The article says, and I quote: “, NASA did not preserve the archival tapes of the data they collected.” Which I think is code for: “some dumb ass deleted it.” Anyway upon learning that they lost the data, Professor Brian O’Brien, who developed the experiment, heard about NASA’s screw up (30 years later), and said “Hey I have backup copies!” This was in 2006, They have spent time since analyzing the data and have discovered that the dust builds up much quicker than they thought. Which is an important discovery, as solar panels lose their effectiveness quickly when dust settles on them. Which in turn means they need to figure out a way to lessen this buildup if they ever want to use the moon as any kind of waystation for exploring our solar system. 

Now you may be wondering, “there shouldn’t be any wind on the moon to scatter the dust”? Well, here is a known theory posited by Mr. O’Brian that: a popular idea of a “dust atmosphere” on the Moon could explain the difference. The concept goes that, during each lunar day, solar radiation is strong enough to knock a few electrons out of atoms in dust particles, building up a slight positive charge. On the nighttime side of the Moon, electrons from the flow of energetic particles, called the solar wind, which comes off the Sun strike dust particles and give them a small negative charge. Where the illuminated and dark regions of the moon meet, electric forces could levitate this charged dust, potentially lofting grains high into the lunar sky.

 Prof O’brien’s outlook on the situation…” “It’s been a long haul,” said O’Brien. “I invented [the detector] in 1966, long before Monique was even born. At the age of 79, I’m working with a 23-year old working on 46-year-old data and we discovered something exciting — it’s delightful.” ( I assume Monique is someone he works with) Anyway, it is kinda neat that this all has a happy ending. I hope this information leads to a new tech that will help keep solar panels clean, so we can move forward with our journey.

The World We live In

I was out with the family yesterday at the local Wally World. The wife had to get some prescriptions, and we needed a few things. I got caught in a talk trap with a couple of my old diver buddies, and we stood around for a while talking shop. Then one of my brats, he is 16, walked up to us and asked me what was this?

He had found a dollar bill lying on the floor, it had been folded up, and inside was a white crystalline rock-ish/ to partially powdery substance. Now I grew up from the late sixties and throughout the seventies (long live classic rock!) and I am no stranger to a little weed, and have snorted a line or two of coke, among other things, but I was never one to make much of a habit out of any of it, well I did smoke weed for a while. Anyway…I had never seen this stuff before. 

So, I just put it in my pocket, and brought it home…don’t start thinking what you might be thinking, I put a small amount of this substance under the microscope, being that sort of curious type, and the microscope indeed verified a very crystalline stucture with many small interlocking crystals making up the larger pieces. I can only conclude this was our first encounter with crystal meth. Once I had satisfied our curiosities, we flushed it down the toilet. We have a septic tank, and this was the only way I could think of that would not introduce the stuff to the environment directly. 

Now I have heard meth is running wild out there, and you see it on the news a lot, and you hear stories locally about this person or that, having ruined their lives and their health because of the stuff. But somehow, I thought we would generally be immune to it, because the Venn diagram of my life no longer intersects with that kind of culture (and when it did, meth was never a topic of discussion). Then lo and behold, it is lying in the floor at the damn Wal Mart. I am glad my son was smart enough to bring it to my attention, and I did manage to make a learning experience out of it, but I can’t help but wonder what kind of world my kids will have to wade through. Things have changed since my time. 

One can only wonder, what if someone’s small child had picked up that dollar bill? …and thought it was candy? It was Halloween after all. What if my son had other ideas on figuring out what this stuff was? (Glad he didn’t) What if the cop that was perusing the aisles knew about the whole thing and it was some sort of setup? (thank goodness it wasn’t) I generally do not like playing the “what if” game. I will often tell my kids I do not play the hypothetical situation game, I find the hypothetical “what if” game to be as interesting as a conversation with a fundy. When you go to the land of making shit up, I find it less of an intellectual exercise and more of a waste of time. Even so, I cannot help but play a little “what if” in this situation. This meth stuff is no joke, and having it just fall into your lap is a little off putting.

One thing I do know from experience, we all have to walk the path of life. There are many trails on the path, some leading to great things, some leading to self destruction. We all must choose our paths. We all must live with those choices. We all have this minefield to navigate, and while the times, the faces, and the dangers have changed, the who we are and the who we want to be is still a series of choices we must make. My hope is that our future as a species, and your future as a fellow human, is tempered by making those choices wisely.