Friday 28 February 2014

Zen, Coriolis and a Dead Fly

I’ve always liked doing the dishes, it’s time when almost no one will bother you and it has a Zen like aspect that allows your mind to wander while your body performs the most menial task. Now, having said that, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when I wish we used only paper plates. It can be kind of Zen to toss things in the garbage can.
Often I will think about the properties of water while I have my hands submerged. I will remember being in the bath as a kid and figuring out how to squeeze my hands together and send a jet of water into the air. I will rediscover how to fill a glass and while the mouth is still in the sink, raise it up carrying the full glass of water with it. Once the surface is breached, the water drains out. I can, and have spent hours playing in the sink while I am supposed to be doing the dishes.

Lately, while I have been wrist deep in dirty water I have been thinking about those places on the equator where the natives will demonstrate how water drains on either side of the “Equator” signpost. According to the Coriolis force, water draining in the northern hemisphere will rotate counter clockwise and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. The natives will fill a bucket (with a hole in the bottom) with water and when they stand on the north side of a sign that purports to be the equator, it drains counter clockwise and then they will step to the other side of the sign with a newly filled bucket, it will drain clockwise. This astounds and amazes the tourists who will give a tip to the natives for their trouble.
To save you the trouble of a trip to the equator, these guys are hucksters. It all depends on how the water is poured into the bucket as to which way it will drain. Mind you, there probably isn’t a lot to do at the equator once you have taken a picture of the sign, so you might just as well watch the bucket guys.

I have tried to figure which way the water drains at my house in the past, but one time it will swirl counter clockwise and the next time it will drain clockwise. Often the bubbles will confuse things, but bubbles are notorious tricksters. Today, when I had finished the dishes I just pulled the plugs on both sinks and lo and behold, the right hand sink was counter clockwise and the left hand sink was clockwise. I suppose that our sink is right on the Alberta equator. I would be more than happy to demonstrate this phenomenon to anyone…for a small gratuity of course.
There was another odd thing that happened at the sink today. I was doing the dishes and when I looked up at the window, it was covered with frost and there was a fly walking on it. It is about -20° C in Calgary right now and I just wasn’t expecting a fly. It hasn’t been warm recently and believe me when I tell you that neither the doors nor the windows have been opened lately. I briefly wondered where the fly came from before I took its life, but it’s beyond me. Why would it choose such a cold day to appear, why would it appear in front of me, why would it disturb my Zen like meditation? Stupid fly!

I hope it wasn’t a good luck fly, the lottery is tonight, and I really need to get out of this cold weather.

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