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The Trickle - Mixing Units

November 2, 2009 - Brian Ferry

One of these things is not like the other

I have a tiny bit of engineering background. It makes me a well-rounded messed up person. Journalists and numbers are not supposed to co-exist. Whatever. My background means I understand the importance of not mixing units during calculations. Too bad some of the people who worked on Hubble neglected that. But, mixing units doesn't always have to deal with numbers. I was pouring myself a bowl of cereal the other day. (There's an unusual segue.) I missed with a raisin and a flake. Since they ended up on the floor and it was possible that there could be witnesses around, I decided not to eat them. I picked up both and noted the differences in weight. I didn't want to walk the extra two steps to the garbage can, so I threw them at the same time. In my calculations, I allowed for the impact of wind resistance on the flake and the diameter of the can. I aimed to get the raisin in the far back and hoped the flake would make the front. It worked. I was pretty impressed. That whole event reminded me of a wassail dinner from my middle school days. The medieval theme was cool. The food was kinda scary. The most memorable part was the juggler. (I suppose there were many jugglers at the many tables, but I only remember the one near our table.) First the guy juggled what I thought of as hacky-sacks. Then he juggled little cloths. One of the (adult) hooligans at my table asked if he could juggle both at the same time. The guy was game. He gave it a shot. He carefully tossed a hacky-sack or two, then used the big motion required to move the cloth, then he forgot. The next bag went sailing off toward the ceiling and someone else's flambe. It was great fun.

 
 

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