Friday, January 27, 2012

Cow Magnets and Harry Potter

I've been keeping my eye out for new Mad Science possibilities for Vacation Bible School.  A few weeks ago I saw some magnets on the clearance shelf at Hobby Lobby, so I picked up the 2 packages they had on hand.  Then I stashed them and forgot about them.

Yesterday I found them and pulled 2 out.  These are small bar magnets, about 2" x 1/2", and are labeled N and S on the ends.  The back of the package says that they are alnico magnets.  Then the package mentions cow magnets and the prevention of Hardware Disease.

Cow magnets?  Curious minds want to know!

Apparently cows do not have discriminating lips and will swallow whatever gets into their mouths, including nails, staples, pieces of barbed-wire fencing ...  You get the idea.  Those little pieces of metal can do nasty things to cow insides.  But if stopped before they get too far into the cow's gastro-intestinal system, the metal pieces are relatively harmless.  Feed the magnets to the cows early in life and the magnets attract all that metallic debris and the cow lives longer and happier.  Makes perfect sense.

And then, I found this sentence on the Wikipedia page:
While the resultant mass of iron remains in the cow's rumen as a pseudobezoar (an intentionally introduced bezoar), it does not cause the severe problems of hardware disease.
A bezoar?  Like the one used by Harry Potter to save Ron's life after he drank the poisoned wine in Professor Slughorn's room?

Yes!  Just like that one!  (Well, it would be like that one if bezoars actually possessed the powers they were believed to have 1000 years ago, but that's beside the point.)  Again, from Wikipedia:
Bezoars were sought because they were believed to have the power of a universal antidote against any poison. It was believed that a drinking glass which contained a bezoar would neutralize any poison poured into it. The word "bezoar" comes from the Persian pâdzahr (پادزهر), which literally means "antidote".
So the magnet becomes a pseudobezoar (pseudo- because it was artificially introduced instead of growing there naturally) which essentially neutralizes the potentially fatal effects of the sharp metal objects ingested by the cow.

Wow.  You just never know what sort of informational journey a simple package of clearance magnets will take you on.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I just folded a load of clothes that had 26 clean socks.  That's not really unusual. The truly remarkable thing is that from those 26 socks, there were 13 matched pairs of socks.  There was not a singleton (or I suppose from an even number of socks there would have to be at least 2 singletons) left over.  That is almost unheard of at this house.

There is always the question of what to do with those singletons.  Should they go in the sock drawer where they will always remain unused, passed over in the rush to get dressed in the morning?  Should they be thrown away with the understanding that parted pairs are hardly ever reunited?  In our house they are put in a little pile on top of the drier.  At the present time, there are 13 singletons on top of the drier.

I know.  That sounds like a lot of socks.  But at least 4 or 5 of those are little bitty, no-show, mainly-just-covers-the-bottom-of-your-foot kind of socks, so they don't add much volume to the stack.  And those are in a variety of colors, too: pink, black, and several shades of beige.

There is one black band sock.  No one in our house wears black crew socks except Mr. H . . . unless it's marching season.  Then 1 or possibly 2 of the girls have A pair that gets worn for a few hours on Friday nights.  The one on top of the drier is too small to fit Mr. H, so it must be a band sock.  And its mate probably made its escape on a bus trip.  I'll end up purchasing a new pair when marching season starts up again.

Certain socks are delegated to the singleton pile and never move on.  (I suspect the band sock is one of those.)  Others move in for the time it takes to wash several loads and are then happily reunited with their mates.  I try to look through them weekly to see if there are any pairs hiding among the singletons.  I suspect some of those little bitty, no-shows have mates lurking at the back of my daughters' sock drawers or under their beds or even static-ly stuck to the inside of some garment that has fallen out of favor.

But until I am overcome with a fit of cleaning, the pile on the top of the drier is safe...but still lonely.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Post about Nothing at All

There are times that something happens and I think to myself, "Oh! I should write about that." And then I consider which of my daughters might take offense, and either decide it's worth the risk or it's not.

But sometimes, like now, when our family is in the middle of wedding planning (which seems to be all-consuming, in either thought or deed) that there needs to be a down-time, a time of doing nothing.

So, here it is.

At the grocery store this week, I spotted a box of loose tea.  Nothing fancy:  Lipton tea, not in bags.  I smiled as I placed it in the buggy ("buggy" is for you, RK!)  I knew at least one of my daughters would have the same smile when she saw it in the tea cabinet. (Yes, we have a tea cabinet in our kitchen.)

She found it last night and the box has now been replaced by 2 sealed jars of lovely loose tea.

At the present moment, a heaping spoonful of said lovely loose tea is steeping in a Chinese pot on my kitchen table.  By the time I finish typing this, the tea should be perfect. Then I can drink a cup and do nothing while I enjoy it.