Talking about Turkeys, Four Aces I’ve known, Dr Gill & The Research Paper & the A-

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

 By this time  next week most everyone I know may well be fed up with turkey. Like many things in life, too much of a good thing just don’t work out well. And so it’s  the same with turkey. But did you know, that turkey in Hebrew means “Big Bird” Well most folks don’t know that  but it does. At least one version of the word does. ‘Course most folks I know don’t even speak Hebrew anymore. But when I was a kid in Kentucky, some people here in Indiana thought we spoke Hebrew, or something other than English. Mountain talk, gotta love it.  In fact, The King’s English. The Old English.  Look into it, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.

Not everybody agrees how the word turkey came about, but one conjecture is that Christopher Columbus coined the word turkey based on his interpreter when some birds were making a sound of “tuka, turka” and his interpreter took that sound to be “tukki”, which in Hebrew is big bird.

 I’ve got only one major problem with that deal, Christopher Columbus was Italian, and I live with Italians. The Beautiful She is stone cold Italian.  These people talk with their hands, why the hell do they need an interpreter, ‘cause everybody knows sign language, especially when spoken by Italians.

Another useless bit of turkey information is the fact that Ben Franklin wanted to make the turkey the national bird, as it was the true original native of America.  In fact Ole Ben called the turkey “a more respectable bird”.  ‘Course you gotta remember that Ben also knew ‘bout wild hemp. And with that thought in mind, maybe the turkey did seem to be a more respectable bird.

I read somewhere that the average person in the United States eats 15 pounds of turkey per year.  Now I don’t know ‘bout you, but somebody’s eating my part, ‘cause I’m not coming close to keeping up my end of the eating turkey average person in the United States. One, maybe two pounds per year tops for me.  That means somewhere, somebody in these United States is eating 28 – 29 pounds of turkey, theirs and mine.

Turkeys were almost extent in the 1930’s then some do-gooder decided to take on the cause to save the turkey. Oh well, it worked.  Now there’re more turkeys than do-gooders.  Now days some people even thing do-gooders are turkeys. To prove the point of the turkeys rise from near extinction  all you need do is come to the EastWing.  At least once a day, most every day turkeys come to the EastWing Gardens.

The store bought turkeys get really big, some as much as 50 pounds, but I’ve never seen one that size.  Now the kinda turkeys we eat for Thanksgiving can’t fly, the wild kind that come to the East Wing can, not too good, but just like the Wright Brothers, they can get off the ground for ‘bout the same distance.

One more little thing ‘bout turkeys and I’ll swear to get off turkeys here pretty soon, it’s that little thing hanging down from the turkey’s chest, that little wobbly thing,  is the turkey’s beard and is made up of keratin bristles. Keratin is the same stuff as the horn of a rhino.  Now I’m not saying that rhinos and turkey are cousins, but I’m just saying the wobbly thing on turkeys and the rhino horn are made of the same type material. And you think politics make strange bedfellows, how ‘bout turkeys and rhinos.

Setting in the East Wing on November the 5th  and  watching my weather station as the temperature took a nose dive from 60’s toward the low thirties by the next morning, I thought ‘bout an old friend that’d made an impression on my life many years ago.

Think I mentioned ‘bout a chemistry professor I knew who knew a guy that figured out a system to measure the heat in peppers.  Well what I didn’t tell you was that chemistry professor of mine, Dr. Gill, even though I didn’t know it at the time would turn out to be one of four teachers I would later in life point to and say “they made me what I am today”  I’ve never tried to put three in rank order. I just call ‘em the Four Aces in my deck of life. One was a grade school teacher, one a high school teacher, one a college professor, and a Baptist Preacher who just so happened to also be my father was #1, those Four Aces.

Dr. Gill was well known for assigning off the wall homework that had nothing to do with organic chemistry.  One day Dr. Gill walked by my laboratory  station and said “Mr. Howard tonight write a paper on your choice of any laboratory instrument.” I hated when he done that to me , and he did that to me often.

Now this was back in the day where research meant going to the library and reading books, yes reading books, real books. There was no such thing as Google Search. PC’s were not there. In fact the only computers I  had available then were made of wood. Interestingly enough they were  hexagon shaped bodies , a graphite operating system, with a manual delete on the top of the computer. And the delete button could be replaced if need be.

This early computer didn’t even have an output screen, you had to use paper in place of the screen, yes it even cut out the printer and computed directly onto paper. Such a marvelous device, I remember ‘em well. I’ll never forget mine was yellow and black, had a number 2  stamped on one side, up toward the delete button. I’m not sure if that was the serial number or model number, but it had number 2 up there toward the top. And it was with the old manual computer that  I started  out to complete my homework assignment from Dr. Gill to do a paper on a laboratory instrument.

It was a cold day as I walked toward the library with snow blowing in my face.  I was walking into the face of winter, without a clue as to how to even start this project. I wondered how cold it was as I got close to the library and right there saw a large thermometer displaying my needed information.

The little angel on my right shoulder whispered into my right ear, “ you know how a thermometer works? Then research it and write it up”. The little devil on my left shoulder whispered “that’s stupid,  you gonna believe that angel? Dr. Gill will throw you completely out of the lab if you write something that dumb”.   As the little angel reached behind my head and socked the little devil on his right ear, and said “shut up little devil, it’s a good idea and you know it”. The deal was done. Thermometer research was underway within minutes.

Now most everybody knows how to read ‘em but not everybody know why they work.  It was that why part that I wanted to put to paper for the Dr. Gill’s assignment. They’re everywhere, inside, outside, cooking, cooling, home heating, home cooling in cars, planes and trains, in the water and even on the moon.

Turns out we want to know the temperature of ‘bout everything, sometimes ‘cause it’s necessary to know and sometimes ‘cause we’re just nosey people.

These things we call thermometers were invented way back in the very early 1700’s by a fellow named Fahrenheit, in Germany. The most basic form of thermometer is the glass bulb thermometer, This type of thermometer is a long glass tube filled with liquid that rises and falls as the temperature changes.  The first thermometer used alcohol in the bulb ’cause alcohol has a much lower freezing point than water.  All thermometers in common use provide their reference to water as the unit of measure.

A few years later still looking for a better mouse trap, so to speak, the alcohol was replaced with mercury based on the fact that mercury has a much lower freezing and boiling point than alcohol.  Mercury bulb thermometers continue to be the most used liquid in glass bulb thermometers some 400 years later.

Now glass bulb thermometers work ‘cause liquids, such as alcohol, or mercury, expand slightly when the temperature rises. When the liquid is trapped in a narrow tube, it has nowhere to go but up. With this expansion happening at a predictable rate, Fahrenheit was able to create a scale to determine what the air temperature would be when the liquid reached any given point on the tube.  And just like that you knew when water turned to ice, it’s 32°.

Oh, and by the way, the little angel on my shoulder was right, Dr. Gill approved of my research paper on a laboratory instrument. My grade, A-  Dr. Gill gave nobody an A, ever, just didn’t, ever give anybody an A. I got lots of A-, but never an A from  Dr. Gill.

From the EastWing, Talking about Turkeys, Four Aces I’ve known, Dr Gill & The Research Paper & the A-

I Wish You Well,