shard of scale
Monday, March 11 2019
Last night I had vivid diphenhydramine dreams that placed me back at my childhood home south of Staunton, Virginia. I was standing on the floodplain 150 feet west of the house (38.100094N, 79.130773W) when suddenly a car appeared. But instead of being on Stingy Hollow Road, it was headed eastbound down a somewhat flood-swollen Folly Mills Creek. The car was some sort of white station wago, and it was driven by a woman. As it tried to make turn in the creek, it overshot and slammed with a thud into a willow tree, filling instantly with water. You might think I would've then reflexively try to save anyone in the car, but all I thought was, "serves you right for driving in a creek," and "not my problem." But then a bunch of people emerged from the inundated car, and they were all friends of mine from the Charlottesville phase of my life. At that point I felt bad for my indifference, and the dream ended soon thereafter.
Today was the first workday since the springtime switch to daylight savings time, so my body was not prepared to awaken as early as I normally would. So it was my phone's alarm that rousted me from bed. I hurried through my morning chores, which didn't include starting a fire, since it was a sunny day with temperatures likely to rise into the 40s.
Ever since adding the instant boiling water tap to the kitchen, I haven't had much of a need for the laboratory's Japanese-style Zojirushi tea pot. Since I had more of a use for such a pot at work (where I've had to use a microwave oven to heat my tea for the past six months), I decided to install it there, in the kitchen area beside the two Keurig machines, an ice maker, refrigerator, and all-important microwave. The tea pot was covered with little brown spotches and other grime of the sort that accumulates when one has an appliance that one never bothers to clean. I'd cleaned it exactly once since buying it in 2011, and that was only after experiencing a disaster trying to make tempeh from blackeyed peas on a screened shelf directly above the tea pot (which I used for a heat source back when I used to make tempeh). Far worse than the grime on the outside was the thick accumulation of blue-grey scale on the inside. Heated water tends to drive off the component of calcium bicarbonate that makes it water soluble, leading to the precipitation of calcium carbonate (essentially, limestone). Since the water I'd boiled had been well water extracted from a silica-rich substrate of bluestone and shale, it's possible there was also silica in the scale. Something was also giving it its dark color, perhaps the feldspar pigmenting the rocks. In any case, the scale was hard and very brittle, acting more like glass than expected. A tiny sliver found its way under the nail of my right middle finger, and I couldn't get it out. It tormented me the rest of the day, proving itself resistant to many attempts at extraction. At work, I would try picking at it with the end of a paperclip and the exposed wire in a twisty-tie. I'd also try to grab it with my office pair of cuticle nippers. I would have to wait until I got home and had more tools (and magnification) available before I'd finally get that little fucker out.
While I was bringing toys to work, I thought I'd also bring the AOC travel monitor I'd used in Costa Rica. It had served me well there, but at 1366 X 768, its resolution was a little low. And it was also a bit bulky. So recently I'd taken delivery of a thinner, lighter travel monitor with an incredible 2560x1440 resolution. It had cost $200, but will be totally worth it the next time I travel. I figured I could use the AOC monitor as a fourth monitor, to give me a work setup more similar to the extravagant five-monitor one in the laboratory.
I ended up setting up the AOC monitor in a portrait orientation, where it will be able to show documents about 300 pixels taller than can be shown on any of my other monitors. I would've liked to install it above one of the existing monitors, but I have no way to secure it except placing it on the desk.
At around noon, I made my customary weekly visit to Hannaford, though I didn't need to buy nuts this time, since my employer had bought a bunch of nuts at the end of last week for us to snack on. Instead I focused on things like pouches of prepared Indian food and drinks. I also wanted a tiny screwdriver to help with extracting that chip of tea pot scale beneath my fingernail, but they didn't seem to be selling much in the way of tools.
The day's biggest disappointment was the burrito I'd made this morning from yesterday's bean glurp. Something about the middle-eastern whole wheat wrap just didn't work when reheated in a microwve oven. When I bit into it, it tasted like glue. Also, there's an inherent problem when you microwave something containing fresh lettuce, though I've done it before and don't remember it turning out so badly.
It was feeling rather springlike as I climbed into the Prius at the end of my workday. The sun had warmed up my car, and there would be another two hours before sunset. When I got home, I immediately set off down the Stick Trail with the backpack and chainsaw on a firewood salvaging mission. I found a previously-overlooked dead chestnut oak a little east of the Stick Trail a couple hundred feet south of the Chamomile. It was thick enough that I really should've split most of the pieces I brought home, but I brought it all directly into the living room mostly so I could weigh it. With the weight of the backpack, it came to 115 pounds. Though less than ten pounds lighter than the load I'd salvaged on Sunday, it was much easier to carry, mostly because I'd lashed the load down tightly high on the backpack, lacing the bungee cords through the load in multiple places.
This evening I managed to finally extract that tiny chip of tea pot scale bedeviling me from beneath my fingernail. I had to use an illuminated magnifier and a dental pick, and there were a few sharply painful moments. I then took a photo of the offending shard using a USB microscope. Here you see it perched on the ridges of my right index finger. It's about a millimeter long on its longest dimension.
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