Regarding the use of Neodymium in the production of bright purple glass


In response to polite inquiries received at this department allow me to say: I do not know how neodymium is used to produce bright purple glass. I assume that it is put into the glass somehow to either create the purple or the brightness. Possibly both. But wouldn’t it be just like the rare-earth metals for the key to be taking out the neodymium as part of the glass-making process? Anyway all I know is that if you want bright purple glass, one thing you can look for is neodymium. I’m afraid past that you’re on your own.

Some Astounding Little-Known Facts About Apollo 11


Most of us know three or even four astounding facts about Apollo 11. And yet these do not exhaust the subject. There are over twelve different things about this legendary space mission. Let’s review some of them.

Did you know, for example, that Apollo 11 had the first automatic dishwashing machine brought into lunar orbit? The Westinghouse corporation was proud to make the cramped Command Module at least as livable as an efficiency apartment is. Unfortunately the system failed shortly before the first midcourse correction burn. This was after breakfast but before full testing. Still, we owe the development of dishwashing gel packs to NASA’s need not to have powder floating all over the cabin. Thanks, Moon landing!

Many of us think of the poignancy of Michael Collins, remaining alone in lunar orbit while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the surface. But do you ever consider poor Ronald Evans, who had to remain in earth orbit on the S-II stage while the rest of the crew went on to lunar orbit? Do you remember Ken Mattingly, who had to stay behind on the launch pad while everyone else from the mission went on to earth orbit? And that just because he wasn’t willing to split the tolls. And then there’s poor William Pogue, who had to stay behind in the room where they put all their spacesuits on, because he misunderstood the question. He felt awful about that for years. He can’t even remember what he thought they were asking at the time. “What could it have been, besides `do you want to come to the moon with us’?” he said, in the 1974 debriefing. “Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.” Well, live and learn.

The date for the landing was not settled until late in mission planning. The later the landing, after all, the more chance to train, although the less time to launch another mission in case something went wrong. All they knew was it had to launch before the 31st of December, 1969. And for that there was a heated debate about whether that meant Washington, DC, time or Houston time. “What if we need that extra hour,” was the point of contention. Anyway the date was set in May of 1969 when someone pointed out they had already inscribed on the plaque that men first set foot on the moon in July 1969. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that settle the hardest questions.

Do you know what held the crew and some people exposed to lunar dust for three weeks after the end of the flight? It was the Mobile Quarantine Facility. And it’s still out there. It’s still roving, too, and no one can stop it. If you encounter it, know that you are not in specific peril. But you aren’t going to have any in-person encounters for 21 days except for whoever else it’s caught. The facility got Wi-Fi in 2004, but it’s not good enough to stream HD video.

Not a single one of the crew returned from space transmogrified in any way. Granted, nobody seriously expected major changes. Like, someone coming back as a cool gelatinous blob. Something. There could be some cool field of strange energy. They could pass through and grow these cool retractable antennas. Maybe eyes some weird, brand-new color like neopurple or techneteal. I know what you’re thinking and no. We know they weren’t a weird color only while they were in space and we were watching in black-and-white. They were checking.

Also a disappointment: while, again, nobody was seriously expecting it? A lot of people hoped the astronauts would make contact with some incredible species of, they don’t know, magic otter aliens. Beings with technology and concepts of space nudity as much as five centuries ahead of anything known to Earth science and pants. No good, though. Despite the breakthroughs of the early 70s we still just have taking off clothes.

It’s true that the Lunar Module touched down with less than a minute of fuel remaining. They avoided this problem on following missions by launching them a minute later. “I don’t know why we didn’t think of that sooner,” said Buzz Aldrin in the 1989 debriefing. “But, hindsight, you know?”

While Apollo 11 was seen as quite the big deal at the time, the opinion of space historians has changed. While it’s still seen as important, that’s less for what it was by itself. Most in-the-know now see Apollo 11’s real legacy being its service as full dress rehearsal for the legendary Apollo 12 mission. So we’ll come back in November and do this again.

In Which Have You Maybe Considered IT’S YOU WHO ARE VERY UPSET PAAS CHANGED ITS DYE KITS INSTEAD?


No, really, I am COMPLETELY FINE WITH LEARNING that Paas went and changed its egg dye kits over the last year so now there’s NONE that tell you that you have to use vinegar, or you better not use vinegar, and you don’t have to pick out the pink one for ANY special treatment. That’s FINE. That makes EVERYBODY’S LIFE ALL THE MUCH BETTER and I am NOT AT ALL UPSET that my guide from last week is now COMPLETELY USELESS except for people who have kits from last year and before, all right? I’m FINE. THANK you. Everybody STOP ASKING. And we are NOT having an argument about which of the two they-sure-look-pink tablets is the TRUE pink this year.

Which Color Paas Tablet Is Purple? Which is Red? Which is Pink?


Today I post what will surely come to be my most-referenced post of all time. Last year after yet again being annoyed that we couldn’t tell which color Paas Easter-egg tablet matched with which color I did something: I took pictures of every tablet, and how it looked mixed with vinegar or water, and how the resulting egg looked. I share that information with you here and now. In this way we can maybe prevent the catastrophe of that one tablet that’s supposed to be mixed with vinegar instead of hot water for some reason, only to find you used the other tablet of basically the same color and now everybody is shouting and there aren’t enough of those little plastic ones that wrap around the egg with a complicated scene instead and Easter is just ruined.

Colors are a hard thing to reproduce online, so I took pictures of as much as I could with a can of Coke Zero Sugar, so you can use that as reference. See if you can spot the moment when I realized I was letting the tablets be shaded by the soda can and swapped their placement!

Also there was a six-tablet Paas packet, and a nine-tablet Paas packet. I’ll label which is which. The nine-tablet packet is all the stuff from the six-tablet package, plus an extra package of three more colors. I took a picture of the six normal dye tablets before we started mixing things up, but I didn’t think to take a picture of the extra three tablets. So, well, good luck with those.

And because I forgot to mention: all the eggs were dyed to about the same length of time. It was about three minutes, although I can’t say precisely how long. I remember the fact that I timed it by some piece of music that came on the iPod but I don’t remember which song it was. Well, check my or my love’s iPods and pick a song that seems like it would have been on when we were dyeing eggs last year and there you go.

The pack of six normal dye tablets.
The pack of six normal dye tablets.

The nine eggs, as they look when they're getting more dry.
The nine eggs, as they look when they’re getting more dry.

The dyes which produced these eggs, in the same positions.
The dyes which produced these eggs, in the same positions.

Continue reading “Which Color Paas Tablet Is Purple? Which is Red? Which is Pink?”

More Exciting News About Colors Of Things


The other day I tossed off this joke about the Pantone Laboratories. And figured that was enough of a joke at the time, what with the merriment and giggling that pair of words provoked in every living creature exposed to them, including our pet rabbit and the succulents on the windowsill. But then I went and spoiled myself by wondering if there are Pantone Laboratories. I mean, it’s a company that does … color … things. There’s probably something they do that involves having a beaker or a spectroscope or something, right?

So anyway Wikipedia didn’t leave me with any idea whether there is a Pantone Laboratories, but it did make me aware that since 2000 Pantone has declared a “Color of the Year”. And that twice a year they gather “representatives from various nations’ color standards groups” and spend two days presenting and debating candidates for the color of the year. There are people whose jobs include occasionally going to “a European capital” for a secret meeting where they decide, oh, is this more of a “turquoise”, a “blue turquoise”, or an “emerald” year? The debates must be furious. I’m surprised any of the participants emerge alive, although, Wikipedia does not actually claim there are survivors.

Me, I’m just glad we’ve not yet had a chartreuse year, because that color is not what I would think chartreuse was.

Finally Some Good Trustworthy News About Food And Drink Colors


Yes, I am still feeling the sting of terrible betrayal about how Diet Faygo Arctic Sun is, despite the bottle, actually slightly less blue than a bucket of orange paint would be. Even as we speak, if we get together the minute I’m writing this, I’m consoling myself with a can of Fresca, where the relevant soda pop is “I have no idea what color. It’s in a can”. However, we do have this exciting development. It came about from my love stopping in the cider mill to get … well, go ahead and guess. But also eggs because we were, so far as my love was aware, out of eggs. I also got eggs, because so far as I was aware I was the only person in a position to get eggs. The important thing in our state of being temporarily flush with eggs is that the cider mill eggs are a mix, not all a bunch of uniformly Same Color White Or Brown. In fact, we’ve got this:

Part of a carton of a dozen eggs; the eggs are all different sizes and colors, including one that's a grey-to-pale-green color.
We’re still waiting on whether we can fairly call any of these pink or orange eggs. Also some of these eggs are small enough that they’re half their own size, while others are large and heavy enough I could not swear that they aren’t being used to smuggle emeralds out of the chicken coop. In which case I guess we’ll know within a couple weeks?

So yes, that second egg from the right, top row. It’s a pale color, yes, and it photographs as pretty darned grey. But we got the tests back from the Pantone Laboratories just hours ago and it does fit within the technical standards to pass as a “green egg”. I can’t tell you exactly what we’re going to do with this wonder of nature, except that it’s probably going to be eaten.

January 2017’s Scraps File


Some things I couldn’t find any use for writing in January; if you can find a good use for them, please do. I ask only to hear if any of them went on to be happy.

I’m rotten at choosing clothes. You can judge that from the slightly pained but amused look on my love’s face when it becomes obvious that once again I’ve dressed myself. If you can’t see my love’s face, I’m sorry that you’re missing such a fine experience. But instead look at any picture of people from the 70s or 80s and identify the person wearing the most regrettable outfit. I’ve worn that as recently as Tuesday. I don’t care. They’re clothes and I’m happy to wear them. — Cut from some piece or other, I think the one about crafts. Not really relevant to the main point of the article and besides it ended up long enough as is.

The thing is that gives me the idea to start wondering about something. — Cut from like fourteen pieces because it could go into any of my bits and that’s one of those warning signs I shouldn’t be putting it in any of them. Warning: I might use this to see how long a sentence I could make that doesn’t say anything at all. You’re still free to use it, just, there’s no being sure you’ll have it all to yourself.

If you have that job you either grew up wanting to be someone who makes those little paper flags hung on toothpicks or else your life took turns bringing you to making them. — The thing about my clothes (to get back to them) is that I don’t need to talk about it that much because you’ve seen ugly clothes before. Not necessarily on me, but yeah, on me.

I’m not going to stop making boxed macaroni and cheese wrong because I know it’s easier to keep doing it wrong than to remember to look at the directions and do it right for once. — Also cut from that crafts essay which had more cuts than usual. Also I don’t want to make my clothing problems seem too bad. Like, that look my love gets when noticing I dressed myself? It’s not, like, horrified or anything. It’s like, imagine if you were fixing a car engine. And you called to your dog saying, “Monty! Fetch me the 15 mm socket wrench” and figured you were making a good joke. And the dog was confused but understood there was something about fetching going on there. And the dog came back holding an ice scraper in his mouth. Also the dog’s named Monty. You know the look you’d give the dog, delighted that he was doing his best to do the perfectly hopeless? That’s the look I get when I dress myself. It doesn’t hurt any and I can usually find the socket wrench after that.

“The Tasmanian rainforest is considered a Gondwanan relic.” — I brought that back from an earlier scraps file because I was sure there was something I could do with that, and there wasn’t. It’s pretty nice as it is, on Wikipedia, but I got nothing.

I remember coloring when I was a kid, and we’d get boxes of crayons from school. There’d be as many as 62 Extremely Dark Colors Equally Likely To be Purple, Black, Navy Blue, Blue, Or Any Other Color You Do Not Want, all with the wrappers peeled off in every box of sixteen crayons. — Cut because my problems with coloring in elementary school weren’t so much about what shade of some extremely dark blue-like-or-black color I had available but more that I was never satisfied with how uniformly a crayon could color things. Also I liked the part where you colored in letters. By you I mean me, or in this context, I. I couldn’t get enough letters to color in like that. So in hindsight, again, I understand why I was treated that way.

And then the person working the Wendy’s counter warned me they were out of potatoes, which means they know me as the guy who comes in like once a month and orders two baked potatoes, so now it’s too emotionally involved going there and I don’t dare visit ever again. — Anyway these days I just wear a solid shirt of one color and pants. Pants of a different color. I learned my lesson the day in grad school when I went out wearing an orange shirt and orange sweatpants and caught a glimpse of myself in the glass door and realized what I was doing. So I have learned to do slightly better, that’s the important thing.

Good luck with February, everyone!

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index dropped nine points after Michigan’s official state groundhog refused to emerge from her lair and make a weather prediction, which is surely all normal and just fine, right? Tell us that’s normal and just fine. We don’t know anymore.

106

Statistics Saturday: Eight Statistics Saturday Posts


To close out Me Week, how about some of lists of stuff that I liked?

And because the world is confusing and hurt-y, here’s one more. The Ingredients List For Libby’s 29 oz Can of 100% Pure Pumpkin brings a refreshing calm and sense of place to everything. I hope this helps.

Yes, Yes, Yellow Submarine, Now Move On


My love and I were listening to Sirius XM’s Cheesey 70s channel, because we had used up the 80s channel and were saving what’s left of the Current Indie channel. They got to playing C W McCall’s “Convoy” and I heard something I never noticed before. Buried there somewhere in the lyrics he sings something about a “chartreuse microbus”. I didn’t imagine it. My love heard the same thing.

And now I’m left wondering: what other oddly-colored vehicles are hiding in the midst of songs everybody kind of knows but doesn’t really listen to? If we poke around “Sweet Caroline” would we find a fuchsia MG-B? Is there a minor verse in “We Didn’t Start The Fire” built around a teal Mercury Lynx? I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in “Take On Me” that’s about a khaki Buick Roadmaster, but has anyone checked recently?

Well, at least I was able this week to spoil someone’s theory about what “25 or 6 to 4” even meant, so there’s that.

Megacolors, go! Go! No, Farther!


I thought I saw something silly on Reuters. I thought the headline to this article read “Could This Megacolor Carry People?” and of course I had to figure no. I can’t see how a megacolor could carry even one person, let alone two or more. For that matter, I couldn’t even figure what a megacolor would be. An extremely intent color, I suppose, that you can see even when you aren’t looking at it? It would be a wonder, is what it would be, if it were anything.

But I’d read the title carelessly. It actually asks “Could This Megacopter Carry People?” and that seems much more like something that could actually happen. If there’s anything copters are for, it’s carrying people. And a megacopter would seem just the thing to carry megapeople around. (You know megapeople. If you don’t, just look up. No, farther up. Keep looking up until you make eye contact. That’s a megaperson. To her side is another, and those are some of the megapeople.) So obviously this would be answered “sure, why the heck not?”

The heck not is because they’re not talking about copters. They’re talking about strapping a bunch of those little drones together and carrying people with those. And yeah, it seems like they ought to be able to carry people around eventually. For now, though, the record is carrying 61 kilograms, or about 135 pounds. 135 pounds isn’t enough to carry around “people”. That wouldn’t even carry a “person”, if by “person” you mean “me”, unless you caught me before I was about nine years old. (I was heavy for my age, owing to my discovery at age seven that it was always possible to eat two more bagels.)

In short, everything about this article is less exciting than it sounds like. Megacolor me disappointed. Letter of protest to follow.

A Labor Of Like: What You Don’t Know About Colors


[ John, author of the A Labor of Like humor blog, was inspired the other day by my guide to the risk I’ll correctly identify a color. With his permission I’d like to put his comment up on the front page so people have a better chance of reading it. ]

What most people don’t know is that Indigo started as a Violet separatist movement by wavelengths that thought the name “purple” sounded stupid, and wanted their own, slightly bluer homeland. The establishment of the Indigan state occurred near the end of the 30 Hues War, which began in 1905 when colors such as brown and silver demanded seats at the wheel of the Knights of the Round Spectrum. After the War ended at the Battle of Rainbow Bridge, the Councils of Tempera and Crayola increased the size of the palette to 16 and 64, respectively. Indigo now holds a permanent seat on the security council of the United Colors of Benetton in New York.

Indigo is a monarchy, currently ruled by King Royston the Fourth, Duke of Grape and Earl of Blueberry. His people lovingly refer to him as “Roy ‘GB’ IV” for short.

Statistics Saturday: Risk That I Will Correctly Identify A Color By Its Name Alone


Color Risk That I Will Correctly Identify This Color By Its Name Alone What CSS Thinks The Color Is
Red 99%
Blue 99%
Green 99%
Yellow 98%
Cyan 94%
Magenta 65%
Prussian Blue 38%
Teal 35%
Maroon 24%
Fuchsia 18%
Chartreuse 0%
Turquoise 16% (This is what I think Teal ought to be)
Goldenrod 12%
Ivory 99 44/100%
Violet 95%
Indigo (Still not sure this isn’t just purple with good marketing)
Mauve (Only if this is 1894 for crying out loud)
Plum 60%
Aquamarine (This isn’t just Aqua? Colors why must you be difficult?)
Lavender 33% (Higher if you’ll just let me call purple or indigo “Lavender”)
Khaki 40%
Atomic Tangerine (What, really?)
Avocado 55%
Viridian (whimper)
Heliotrope 0% (This is what I think Chartreuse ought to be)
Battleship Grey 85%
Puce (Oh good heavens Wikipedia Talk pages make this complicated)

I Guess I Need Some Colorful Help


I should’ve known I’d get myself into trouble. I was hoping to pick up a little extra money because there’ve been all these unexpected expenses like food and those roller coaster seeds I’ve been trying to grow in the front yard. Anyway, I took a contract bit where I just have to work up a name for a newly-invented color, which I figured I could toss off in a moment, the way someone decided that “Cornflower” could be a color.

Anyway, what they want is a word for the shade of orange you get when someone built a community college in like 1971 and put bright orange carpeting all over the walls, because that was something that seemed normal in 1971, and then it’s still somehow up there in 2013. Sure, you know the color I mean from that description, but what are we supposed to do if we need to describe that quickly? Worse, what are people doing with that color that they need it described in a word?

I should’ve taken a temp job making JSON do that thing where you get error messages from your web browser instead.

[ Unrelated: WordPress tells me I’ve now got 250 people following this blog. Thanks kindly to each of you, and I hope that you’re enjoying the occasional glance around these parts. Please feel free to introduce yourselves to one another as there’s a fine student lounge with an indescribable orange-carpeted wall available. ]

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