On this day in 1850, someone first demonstrated how ice could be made using man-made means rather than using the previous method, which involved only water and a cold day. Thinking that this would make an interesting article, I looked up the history of refrigeration. I didn't understand a thing.
This came as a surprise, though I don't know why. I guess I thought that the details of technological advances became unintelligible to the lay population at a later date. Now I know that I, personally, am lost somewhere between 1850 and the invention of the wheel.
So back to ice.
I have always wondered how ice and salt can be colder than ice. In ice cream makers, you put the ingredients for the ice cream into a metal canister and surround the cannister with ice and rock salt. When you turn the cannister so that the outside surface is continually exposed to the salt and ice, the ingredients freeze into ice cream which is 4 degrees colder than the ice. The ice and salt produce what is called an endothermic reaction. Is that cool or what? (Nyuh, nyuh, nyuh.)
So why does salt melt the ice on a frozen sidewalk? Because salt causes the melting point of ice to be lower. Another amazing factoid--17% of the salt consumed in the United States is salt used for de-icing. And just one more salt fact...only 6% of salt consumed in the United States is used in food. Of course, not all of that is eaten...some is poured down the drain as pickle juice, thrown away as bacon grease, tossed over left shoulders, turned into play-dough, and of course table salt is the traditional ammunition in slug hunting.
Which reminds me of a story my sister tells about working in an institution for children with disabilities. One of her co-workers was from some dry and heaven-like place that didn't have slugs and the first slug the woman ever saw was half a slug in the hand of a munching resident.
And speaking of half-animals, my friend Kay was admiring the baby goats in the barn the other day and said, "Marilyn! Quick! There's a lizard and it just ran behind that board!"
"Did you see the whole thing?" I asked.
"Just its tail!" she excitedly (if naively) replied.
Lizard. Hmmm. I don't think so.
Which reminds me of another mistaken identity story. My friend Allison Gibbons, who is hyperurban (by birth as well as disposition) and I went to college in a part of California that was fairly close to some agricultural areas. She and her friend Linda, both desperate for money, signed up to go pick what were called, in the vernacular, "ammands."
For half the day they picked and picked and picked before one of the nuts fell to the ground and broke open. "Linda! Linda!" Allison cried, "there's almonds in these ammands!" Allison is also remembered by her comment when shown the tooth of a bear, "I didn't know bears had dentists!"
The only way I can tie this whole thing together is to tell you How the Bear Lost Its Tail, which was, of course, ice fishing.
Saints o' the Day include Camillus de Lellis, Deusdedit, Marchelm, and Ulric of Zell.
Celebrating birthdays today are Polly Bergen (1930) and Ingmar Bergman (1918).
Woody Guthrie was born on this day in 1912. The official Washington State Folk Song is his "Roll on Columbia," which was one of over two dozen great songs he wrote in just one month while visiting Bonneville Dam on a commission by the Corps of Engineers.
I feel an essay coming on here so you will have to check back--it will have the results of my sturgeon fishing expedition, more on Bonneville Dam, and the complete lyrics to the song.
It is the (1789) anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French revolution.