Rose Green (olmue) wrote,

Random December updates

1. Well, we have a few decorations up, which is good. The rental agency has banned live cut trees, and my family utterly rejects plastic trees (plus, do you know how EXPENSIVE those things are??) So we have solved the problem with a potted house plant that just happens to look like a pine. It sits on the counter in the window between the dining room an kitchen, and we are just hoping it stays alive long enough until the 25th.

2. It's a whopping 10 degrees above zero right now, which is FANTASTIC and feels like high summer compared to what we've been having. (Many many days below zero. Our little house can't keep up, and it's been no warmer than 65 in here, no matter what we set the thermostat on.) It was even warm enough to go out and shovel snow. Of course, it's now snowing again...

3. Saturday I'm in charge of the musical program for our church Christmas dinner. Which should be not too hard. Except I can't relax until it's done.

4. The really huge stress, though, is the science fair project. I like science, but I HATE these projects, because they always require materials that no normal parent can find, and of course the school expects the stuff to appear like magic and the kid is caught in the middle, with their grade in the balance. My 13YO wants to build a cloud chamber to observe atmospheric radiation. It looks like a fairly simple project. Except, it's impossible to get dry ice here. Like the closest place is Fargo, 90 miles away. I have found someone who is driving there tomorrow and is willing to pick some up for me, but first I think we're going to try using air dusters as a coolant. (They cool to I think -45 C, which should be cool enough.) So I've basically spent all day making a cloud chamber and trying to get it to work. You affix a sponge to the bottom of a clear container, like a clear plastic or glass cup, soak it with 90%+ rubbing alcohol, and invert over a lid made of a black circle of construction paper (goes on the inside side) taped to a foil cupcake wrapper (on the outside side). Seal with plastitiack on the rim to be airtight. Then you somehow suspend (or balance on the edge of something so a bit overlaps) your chamber, turn an air duster can upside down (yes, exactly what it says NOT to do on the can), and spray the bottom. Then shine a bright LED light inside and watch as a cloud forms (the alcohol condensing), and supposedly little cosmic waves will show up, like little static shocks or shooting stars or something. I can get as far as the cloud, but then no sparks. One difficulty is that you have to spray every ten seconds or so. Another is that you also have to hold this flashlight. So you need a number of extra hands. Also, I'm pretty sure it works better at night than at noon. I'm still debating on whether to take these people up on their offer to bring back dry ice. I guess we still have a few hours to try and get it to work tonight...

5. As to North Dakota in December, this is what it looks like: watery, pale-blue sky tinged with white, a very low, weak sun, white on the ground and in the trees (because nothing melts), and ice skating rinks going up all over town. The middle school was making two large ones in a field, and they already have another one surrounded by wooden walls. Yes, my 3rd grader is doing a hockey unit in P.E. North Dakotans don't care that they're adults--they wear mittens at these temperatures. (And really heavy-duty ones!) But joggers are still out, bandanas around their faces and presumably wearing some kind of magically warm base layer.

6. North Dakotans, in case you're wondering, have a rather specific look, too. Native American is one common look, with quite a number of local tribes who have lived here since the dawn of time. And for European-Nodaks, they tend to have squarish faces, blond hair and blue eyes (you remember that Legolas's little sister lives down the street from us), and are not terribly tall. They are also not as er, square in body as the rest of the US, it seems--probably because anyone who can go running when it's -15 is probably in pretty good shape to start out with.

7. Our washer broke and husband and son fixed it, but something else is still broken, making the whole thing thrash around (no, it's not the legs being uneven or the load lumpy inside. It has to do with everything being firmly nailed down inside). They did more work last night. We hope it solved it, because it's not fun feeling like you're blasting off with every laundry load. Now if only they could fix the leaking transmission... (one reason why I didn't drive to Fargo and pick up my own dry ice. Well, that and it's 90 miles away.)

Um, wow, that was pretty random. Happy December?
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