Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bob Dunning: Making the most of chilly evenings


From page A2 | December 12, 2013 | Leave Comment

FIRE AND ICE … after reading yesterday’s piece about potential city of Davis firefighters waiting in a frosty line for a chance at employment, one kind reader asked “Why don’t you apply to be a firefighter?” … actually, I would, but for the fact I already work for the best employer in the world … besides, as I understand it, Davis firefighters receive absolutely no pension, make minimum wage for the first five years, must work 48-hour shifts without sleep and are charged for the water they use to put out fires … that’s a lot to ask just for the right to park in “NO PARKING” zones, blast a really cool siren whenever you wish and run red lights at will …

SPEAKING OF FROSTY THINGS … thanks to whoever put up the snowman on B Street yesterday made of real snow … brightened the day for many people around town …

EVEN MORE FROSTY MOMENTS … deciding to resurrect the role of Mr. Wizard from my childhood, the kids and I did a little experiment on the coldest night of the year … we took three identical plastic bowls and filled one with Davis tap water, another with Davis tap water that had been cooled considerably with ice cubes made of frozen Davis tap water and another with boiling hot Davis tap water fresh from the stove … we put an identical amount of water in each bowl and put them out front on a concrete surface … and, much to our surprise, when we checked them in the morning just before school, only the boiling hot water had frozen … talk about counterintuitive …

So we did a little research and came across a research paper by Monwhea Jeng of the department of physics at Cal that asks the question “Can hot water freeze faster than cold water?” … the answer, apparently, is “yes,” and was first described by none other than Aristotle … more recently it was demonstrated by a Tanzanian high school student named Mpemba, and is thus now known as the “Mpemba Effect” … the conclusion here “Under some conditions the initially warmer water will freeze first.” … try it and see what happens … then again, I do believe it has to be Davis tap water for this little experiment to work … call it the “Krovoza Effect” …

BAD COMBINATION — DUCKS AND SNOW … given that Mother Nature last week dumped all sorts of snow on Eugene, Ore., where such occurrences are rare, members of the University of Oregon football team organized a snowball fight on campus … unfortunately, a mob mentality took over and one unlucky driver — a 68-year-old retired art history professor from the U of O — had his car’s path blocked for a considerable period of time while being taunted and intimidated by a rowdy group of students … when he tried to get out, a large tub of snow was tossed into his car and onto his body …

What started out as an innocent snowball fight turned into an ugly case of badgering, bullying and intimidation that seemed as if it would never end … ultimately, it cost Oregon’s starting tight end a trip to the Alamo Bowl later this month for his role in the sorry affair … yes, like all things these days, it was filmed and shown around the world on YouTube …

Now, if this had been a retired Oregon State art history professor, it might have made sense, but this was one of their own … the comical thing about this non-comical incident came from a campus psychology professor who was quoted in the student newspaper, The Daily Emerald … wrote the Emerald in analyzing the professor’s comments: “The rare heavy snowfall in Eugene on Friday may have created a situation so unfamiliar to students that they didn’t recognize appropriate behavior.” … wait, it gets better …

Added The Emerald “A university in a snow-heavy location, like Colorado, for example, may have established norms that make an incident like this much more rare.” … yep, those kids in Boulder and Fort Collins and Greeley know that snow is just snow and aren’t spooked by it into bad behavior … the good professor “also said that the physical veil the layers of winter clothes created for individuals, paired with the excitement of school closing at 2 p.m. with many people still on campus created an arousing atmosphere where all bets were suddenly off.” … which might make sense if we were dealing with third-graders …

— Reach Bob Dunning at


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