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I'm a consulting geologist for a small company in the Denver area. I study problems related to active tectonics, using geomorphology, structural geology and remote sensing.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

steamed dumplings and bodily harm

the title of this post, in conjunction with a previous post (pinot grigio and bodily harm) reminds me a blog/site published by a character who goes by the name 'tucker-max'. although his stories are infinitely more disturbing and colorful than mine, they do have some interesting titles... things that commonly end in '...hilarity ensues.' or '...hilarity does not ensue.'

i won't link to tucker-max here... if you really care, google it, but be prepared for some odd stories.

the point here is: steamed dumplings and bodily harm.

my house is generally pretty cold. i like to keep the thermostats set to around 55 degrees, since it's a big house and we have huge south facing windows (that passively heat the house to about 70 degrees at midday). i was cooking dinner tonight (steamed dumplings again) and noticed that i was freezing. i was standing in the kitchen in bare feet and a t-shirt, on cold linoleum. rather than getting a sweater, i thought it would be a billiant idea to simply hold my shirt out over the top of the bamboo steamer on the stovetop. it works wonders over a forced air vent, or even a fire place, so why not a hot steamer??

some of you may remember a concept from basic thermodynamics known as the 'latent heat of vaporization'. this is a simple measure of the energy required to drive a phase change in a given substance. latent heat of vaporization is the calorie amount required to vaporize a liquid, which is an endothermic reaction... in other words it can require a great amount of energy. when that same vapor spontaneously condenses back to its liquid phase, the resulting exothermic transition pours all that heat directly back into the substrate that has allowed the condensation, be it air, metal, or the tender midrif of a person simply trying to warm up in the kitchen.

now... hindsight is 20/20. if i'd taken a moment to think it though, i probably would have noted that the idea was half-cocked at best. instead, i went on impulse and ended up with a two-inch blistering sore immediately proximal to my belly-button, which i've spent the last two hours holding a big bag of ice over. we'll see how it develops through the night, but i imagine it'll be tender for a while.


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