Baby, It’s C-c-c-cold Outside!

7 Jan

Woke up this morning to temps of 5-F, and a wind chill of 11 below. Nippy. Yesterday morning it was warm enough that I actually managed to take Blazer for a walk, but this morning I tied  him out and he was quick about it. The water in the kitchen is frozen, which happens at least once each winter. The Squire and I have discussed wrapping the pipe in heating tape – many times – and this morning his reason was there is no place to plug in the tape. I tapped the front of the dishwasher. “This runs on electricity? Where is it plugged in?”  Obviously, the dishwasher needs both water and electricity to run.

Heavy sigh. I know he hates the thought of pulling out the machine and all that jazz, but one heating tape isn’t going to pull the power two – two – electric heaters use to thaw out pipes. And his wife isn’t happy about taking the dishpan into the bathroom to wash the dishes, while we’re discussing this subject.

Ah, well. At least we do have power and heat, which is more than some folks have at the moment.

The Squire and I had tickets to the Maryland Science Center; we were determined to see the Mummy exhibit before it leaves on the 20th, so we bundled up and headed downtown. Parking was a minor problem. They have some parking close to the building, but it turned out to be all for employees. The fellow at the parking lot named several places we could park, but most of them were too far for The Squire to walk. We ended up simply parking almost directly across the street, which was free with his handicapped tag. Even walking from the car to the building, I had to put my gloved hands over my cheeks to keep the wind from burning them.

We spent a LOT of time in the mummy exhibit. There was a sign stating that each of these mummies had once been a living person, with family and friends, and the entire exhibit was to be treated with dignity and respect. A nice touch, I thought, and I noticed several parents/docents/teachers reminding their boisterous charges to keep it to a dull roar.

There are lots of interactive computer displays – CT scans showing the bones and teeth and inside the skull, analysis of the smallest bits of skin or bones could tell what sort of diet the person ate, and so forth. All the ways scientists can examine the body, almost without ever touching it, other than to move it from one spot to another. Several Egyptian mummies – those people mummified everything, from people to cats to small crocodiles. Three people from one family (Polish, I think) who all died of tuberculosis – mother, year old son, and father. The tuberculosis bacillus remains in the bodies (virtually an entire village had been wiped out in this case) forever, and these older strains are being tested to see if doctors can come up with a cure for what is now a virtually drug-resistant illness.

Quite a few bodies from South America, some of which posed real questions. One woman was curled up on her side, with a small child resting against her stomach and another child under her head. Mother and her children? Scientists say the three bodies cover a period of over 200 years. Another woman had been buried sitting up, crossed legged, with her arms wrapped around her waist. Unfortunately, the poor thing had fallen over backwards sometime after she was placed in the tomb, which left her in a very awkward position, but the real surprise was when they X-rayed her, they found she was holding a baby tooth in each hand. They will not retrieve the teeth, but are they her own? Teeth from her own children? Nobody will ever know.

Probably the saddest was a very primitive mummy from Peru. It was a toddler; the inner organs had been removed and the cavity filled with dry grasses, and then a clay face was formed over the skull. It was found in an ancient (1,000 BCE) hut. Perhaps some family had wanted to keep their little one with them, even after it had died?

We also spent some time in the dinosaur exhibit, contemplating the bones and footprints. There were samples of rocks containing fossils, but even with little red arrows pointing them out, I could not see them. Guess that wouldn’t have been a good career choice. There were several stations where you could watch and listen to scientists discuss various aspects of their work. One fellow moved his head around so much that when the camera was trained on him I had to put my hand over the screen. I mean, being animated when you speak is one thing, but this guy was a bobble-head!

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