Tag Archive: Translator

Dec 22 2013

Pique the Geek 20101219: The Science behind Christmas Goodies

Republished from the Pique the Geek archives by Translator, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Doc passed away earlier this year. He is missed.

This is the time of the year that I get creative in the kitchen, and almost all of what I prepare is given away to friends and family.  I had hoped to be ready to ship tomorrow, but I got behind and will have to ship Tuesday.  Perhaps too late for Christmas, but certainly not for the rest of the holiday season.

I vary my menu year to year, but a couple of things are standard.  One is Lizzies, a sort of fruit cookie that is reminiscent of fruit cake, except Lizzies are good.  Another is chocolate fudge, with black walnuts.  Both of these were always around during my childhood, because my mum loved everything about Christmas and was an excellent cook.

Jan 22 2013

In Memoriam: David W. Smith, Translator, 1957 – 2013

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I bring this sad news, Translator, aka Dr. David W. Smith died this past Sunday, January 20.

Dr. David W. Smith, 55, of Richmond, KY, passed away Sunday, January 20, 2013.

Dr. Smith was born in Fort Smith Arkansas on March 2, 1957, to Roy W. and Geraldine Sandlin Smith. He was a self employed Scientific Consultant.

Survivors include his three sons: Geoff, Justin and Jon Smith; his former wife: Teena Smith; one brother: Richard Smith; as well as a host of other family and friends.

Private services will be conducted at a later date.

The Combs, Parsons & Collins Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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David was our friend and fellow traveler through the universe who shared with us his passion for science, music and cooking. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We grieve with you.

Though we share this humble path, alone

How fragile is the heart

Oh give these clay feet wings to fly

To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart

Lift this mortal veil of fear

Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears

We’ll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean

Cast your soul to the sea

When the dark night seems endless

Please remember me…

May we all find Peace. Blessed Be.

Jan 12 2013

Popular Culture 20130111 — The Electric Light Orchestra: On the Third Day

On the Third Day was the third album released by the band, issued 197311 in the US on United Artists and 197312 in the UK on Warner Brothers (they had previously been contracted to Harvest).  It made #52 in the US but did not chart in the UK.

Jeff Lynne produced the record and wrote all of the material with one exception, and you can tell that immediately.  I did not think that it was a very good album, but that is just an opinion.

That is not to say that it was a bad album, but I sort of hold a band like ELO to a higher standard.  In all fairness, they had some stiff competition, since The Who released Quadrophenia that year, The Rolling Stones released Goat’s Head Soup, and Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon!

Jan 10 2013

My Little Town 20130109: Not on Sunday!

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Back not that long ago there simply were things that could not be purchased on Sunday.  In some areas this still exists, but only regarding the sale of alcohol.  For example, in some places no alcohol in any manner can be sold on a Sunday, in others restaurants can offer it but not package stores, in still others only beer can be had on a Sunday, and in many there are no restrictions on the sale of alcohol.

In Arkansas, until comparatively recently, there were LOTS of things that could not be offered for sale on Sunday under pain of prosecution.  This was not confined to Arkansas, but it seems to have lasted longer there than in many places.

Jan 07 2013

Pique the Geek 20130106: Magnesium — Common and Essential

Magnesium, with a Z = 12, is an extremely common element in the crust of the earth, but it is never found in nature in the elemental state.  It is the second member, after beryllium, in the alkaline earth series of elements.  It is above calcium in that same group, and has significant biological roles.

As is the general trend for elements on the left hand of periodic table, magnesium is less reactive than calcium, just as beryllium is less reactive than magnesium.  This is due to the fact that elements in the first and second columns have their electrons more tightly bound the higher in the column they appear because of less shielding from other electron shells.

Jan 05 2013

Popular Culture 20130104: The Electric Light Orchestra — ELO 2

It has been a while since I started this series.  My contributions here, and at my other regular blogs, have been quite spotty for a number of reasons.  Part of it has to do with it having been the holiday season, and things get a bit odd then, but for the most part the holiday season treated me pretty well, except for when it did not.

Another distraction, one that is absolutely necessary for me to do, is to work on cultivating my nascent consulting business.  I write well, am a great scientist, and have skills that include things from analytical chemistry to health and safety expertise to technical writing to expert testimony.  One of my friends that I met here who does consulting work has agreed to work with me over the telephone to assist me in establishing my business.  Any others who might be able to help are strongly encouraged to pitch in as well, because I am sick and tired of feeling useless!

In any event, it is time to get back to what I do well in this series, or at least I think that I do, and that is to provide embedded music, some historical background, and my commentary to bands that catch my interest.  With this in mind, we shall look at the second effort from The Electric Light Orchestra, called ELO 2.

In my opinion it is a very much better album than their debut one.  The band had settled down a bit, and Jeff Lynne was very much in control, for good or ill, by then.  Let us get started!

Dec 22 2012

Popular Culture 20121221: Christmas Songs

I apologize for not being around much lately, but I have been busy doing Christmas baking and sorting out some personal issues.  Monday I shipped off two boxes of goodies, one to the former Mrs. Translator for her and the two sons that will be able to spend time with her for the holidays, and the other to Eldest Son and his bride who are unable to come home for Christmas.

Contents included Black Walnut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Hickory Nut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Apricot Bread, Black Walnut/White “Chocolate” Chip Toll House Cookies, and of course Lizzies, a family Christmas tradition.  I got word from both of them that they each got their goodies in good condition on Wednesday.  Hat tip to the USPS for providing excellent service and a very good price with Priority Mail.

There are some really good seasonal songs playing these days, and I shall share some of them with you tonight.  Most of them are from my childhood, and many of them are from Goodyear’s Great Songs of Christmas, Volume 5 from 1965, so I would have been eight at the time.  I rooted around through my vinyl and alas no longer have the record.  Others are from different sources.

Dec 20 2012

My Little Town 20121219: Christmas Trees

I apologize for not being around the past couple of weeks.  I have been busy with Christmas goodie baking and some personal matters.  I shipped off a box of treats to the former Mrs. Translator on Monday for her to enjoy and share with Middle Son, Least Son, and their families.  I also mailed out a box to Eldest Son and his mate since they are unable to come home this year.

I sent Black Walnut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Hickory Nut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Apricot Bread, Black Walnut/White “Chocolate” Toll House Cookies, and of course Lizzies.  It was warm and I was unable to get the Myer’s Rum Truffles rolled Sunday night, so they missed out on them.  I finally froze a one liter bottle of water and used it to keep my hands cold Monday evening so I was able to get them rolled Tuesday.  Some of them I dipped in tempered milk chocolate, some I coated with cocoa powder, and some I coated with confectioner’s sugar.  I have improved on the recipe in the link, so ignore it.  At the next available What’s for Dinner? I shall publish the improved recipe.  Last night I took care packages to my neighbors who are also my friends, including the truffles.

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I have mentioned previously how much my mum loved Christmas.  She loved wrapping the gifts, cooking the goodies and meals, and even buying the gifts.  But most of all she loved to decorate the interior of the house.  (The outside belonged to my dad to decorate.)  A major part of decorating was the tree itself, but she did the whole downstairs as well.

We never bought a tree (except for one of those three foot aluminum ones popular in the early 1906s on which she would hang the Christmas cards).  We always went out and got our own.  Before I was old enough to go, my brother and dad would go get one, usually from the farm.  Later, after he married and moved away and I got older, my dad and I would go.

Dec 03 2012

Pique the Geek 20121202: Emulsification

Before we begin tonight, please join me in paying my respects to my mum, who would have been 91 years old today.  The season beginning with Thanksgiving and lasting through New Year’s Day was her favorite of the year, and she showed lots of love to everyone during this time.  But she showed lots of love all year ’round.

The definition of an emulsion is two dissimilar liquids that are dispersed into a more of less long lasting mixture that has properties different than either of the two liquids.  I say dissimilar because in most cases one of the liquids is hydrophopic (literally, “water fearing”, often an oil or hydrocarbon) and the other one hydrophilic (literally, “water loving”, often water itself).

The old adage that oil and water do not mix is only partially true.  It is possible to make them mix, and it is often done intentionally.  Sometimes it happens upon accident, and we organic chemists know that when the synthetic product that we seek to isolate forms an emulsion with the solvent and/or other materials in the separatory funnel that is easy to become piqued by that.

Nov 24 2012

Popular Culture 20121123: Thanksgiving: (Almost) Everything You Know is Wrong

Yesterday the United States celebrated yet another Thanksgiving Day.  I think that Thanksgiving is a marvelous holiday, but it is hardly uniquely American.  As a matter of fact, it is hardly recent, if you can call something that supposedly began in 1621 as recent.

As a matter of fact, celebrations of the harvest at about this time of year go back millennia.  It is known that the Egyptians has such a celebration, and it seems that such festivals have occurred off and on in all agrarian civilizations since prehistory.

However, we shall confine our discussion to the US holiday (Canada has a similar one, celebrated in October due to the earlier onset of cold weather).  Almost all of our “knowledge” about this festival is imparted in children in the early years of grade school, and almost all of it is either very speculative or is created from whole cloth.

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