2010: new sources of bloggy inspiration, new SI units, same old rogues

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted for a while. I have a backlog of ideas for posts that are suitable for my other blog, but nothing that fits this one.
Following the example set by our esteemed leader, I mused on Twitter the other day, “I have no ideas for proper science blog posts on Nature Network right now. Shall I just say I’ve prorogued my blog?”
A friend put an end to that with his reply: “I think you can only do that if you’re avoiding specific science and are pretty sure it’ll go away by the time you resume.”
I was hoping to use last night’s Vancouver vs. Edmonton “Skeptics in the Pub” pub quiz for inspiration, but I am sad to report that Kyrsten and I were not exactly assets to our team. In fact, we came joint second-last in Vancouver, and (we think) behind everyone in Edmonton.
But! The Official Spectator Guide that arrived with my Olympic tickets on Monday came to my rescue!
Flicking through its pages, I read with approval that every event ticket includes free access to all public transport on the day of, and up to 4 am on the day after, the event. We were already planning to take the bus and SkyTrain to all our events (except the one that’s within walking distance), so that was a bonus.
But then it all started to get a bit odd.
First of all, speed skating spectators heading to the Richmond Oval are advised to “Dress appropriately. As you’ll be walking along the Fraser River on your way to the venue, waterproof clothing and comfortable footwear are recommended”. I don’t know what this says about the quality of riverside path and railing construction, but it’s worth noting that my husband left at 6 o’clock this morning to spend a week building wheelchair access ramps for some of the Whistler venues. The entire crew are movie set carpenters. I’ve reminded him that the ramps are not supposed to collapse, explode, or otherwise provide any spectacular and/or hilarious visual effects. I’ve at least established that they’re using real wood, rather than plywood, or Styrofoam painted to look like wood.
I then decided to see where all our seats are going to be. Snowboard cross: general admission (standing), right at the base of the run. Men’s hockey (Canada vs. Norway): lower bowl, 21 rows back, in a corner. Women’s hockey (Canada vs. Sweden): upper bowl, behind a goal, but in a smaller stadium. Curling: nice and central.
Curling?
Yes, curling.
I know next to nothing about curling, but a) it’s pretty damn cool to walk to the Olympic Games from your house, and b) it’s one of Great Britain’s only real chances at a medal. We’ll see both Canada and GB play in a preliminary round, but not against each other, so I can cheer for both teams!
But at least now I know more about curling than I did before. The Spectator Guide says: “Did you know curling stones weigh 19.1 kilograms? That’s almost the same weight as four Vancouver Island marmots”.
Fascinating.
So, I hereby propose two new SI units.
One curling stone (1 CST) = Four Vancouver Island Marmots (4 VIM)
or
1 Vancouver Island Marmot = 250 mCST
The great thing is that the curling stone is also a unit of time and volume. Apparently, there are ten ends per curling match. Each end comprises 16 stones. A game can take a total of three hours. Therefore one stone (1 CST: do keep up) = 1.125 minutes. Your average Canadian curling spectator (and many a participant, too, although probably not in the Olympics) gets through one pint every eighteen minutes. Therefore there are 16 CST per pint.
It follows that there are 64 Vancouver Island Marmots per pint of beer.
That doesn’t seem like much beer each, even for a marmot.

“I can haz more beer, please? Surely u don’t expect me 2 watch curling while sober?”

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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35 Responses to 2010: new sources of bloggy inspiration, new SI units, same old rogues

  1. Richard Wintle says:

    The obvious corollary to this is that when using VIMs for curling, you have to be quick – you’ve only got just a whisker under 18 seconds per marmot.

  2. Cath Ennis says:

    And you will need much more than 1/64th of a pint each to get them drunk enough to stay lying down where they end up, rather than interfering with the scoring by scurrying around (no beer) or staggering around in groups with their arms around each other, singing drunken renditions of “O Canada” (not quite enough beer). Otherwise, Canada would be guaranteed a win – because surely the noble VIM will be supporting the home team and would find their way into the bulls-eye of the target, or whatever the hell it’s called.

  3. Richard Wintle says:

    That would be the “button” I believe.
    I have now exhausted my knowledge of curling.

  4. Åsa Karlström says:

    curling! Let’s see, that would be one of the realistic chances Sweden have of a medal 😀 The women’s team won last time!
    And I think the units should be more generous to the marmots. 1/64th part of pint? How would be happy from that? of that? for that? by that? please help]
    I have to say though, I like the idea of counting marmots rather than stones. Makes it more exotic 😉

  5. Kyrsten Jensen says:

    Oh the marmots. I find it rather amusing that our Olympics deemed that the Olympic mascots are all fictional characters (Miga is part whale/part sea otter, Quatchi is a sasquatch and Sumi is some sort of bear/bird – a Thunderbird) actually), while they have an official “sidekick” called Muk Muk who is a Vancouver Island Marmot. The marmots have been a source of much amusement, and my hometown paper even wrote an article on Muk Muk and called Muk Muk a “cyberspace starlet”. And they wonder why journalism is going done the tubes.
    Cath, the visual of Muk Muk getting so drunk that he acts as a proper curling stone brings tears of laughter to my eyes.

  6. Ken Doyle says:

    It follows that there are 64 Vancouver Island Marmots per pint of beer
    What, are there no metric beer-dispensing taverns up there?
    🙂

  7. Cath Ennis says:

    Richard, me too.
    Oh, wait:
    “Hurry! Hurry hard!”
    OK, now I’ve exhausted my curling knowledge. Luckily, there’s a high quality documentary I can watch before attending.
    Åsa, I would say that Sweden’s chances are much better than GB’s. You’re looking good for the men and women’s hockey, for starters! (Although, obviously, I hope you only get a silver in both).
    Kyrsten, I’m sorry but Quatchi the Sasquatch who wears ear muffs and wants to be an NHL hockey goalie is the best mascot EVAH. I bought a Quatchi stuffed toy for a friend’s son in England; he absolutely loves it (it’s the same colour as his hair) and he apparently can’t wait to see a full-size “Sammy” (he can’t say Quatchi) on TV next month!
    Muk Muk’s good too, though, drinking problem or no drinking problem.
    Ken, everything is metric except beer and people’s weights (the two may be related)

  8. Cath Ennis says:

    p.s. Åsa, it’s “with that”

  9. Alejandro Correa says:

    I’m so Sorry Cath but the picture of marmot is a Castor canadensis a large predator that was introduced in Tierra del Fuego. One must study a little more Zoology. I can lend you a book of Zoology that I am the author…….

  10. Cath Ennis says:

    I don’t know, Alejandro, I’m no expert, but it looks more like a marmot than a beaver to me…

  11. Richard Wintle says:

    Nobody should beat Canada at either curling, or women’s hockey. Nobody.
    /famous last words

  12. Cath Ennis says:

    “Nobody should” as in you’re confident we have the best teams, or as in nobody should be allowed to?

  13. Alejandro Correa says:

    For that reason I’m national champion 2010 (8 to 10 January in Chile) in my category in Master Swimming in the 200 meters butterfly and second place in 400 meters medley.
    Gold and Silver medals

  14. Åsa Karlström says:

    CAth. Of course it is. A preposition I didn’t even consider. duh.
    Curling rules isn’t that hard. Have the most stones closest to the middle part in the end of each round. Tactics though…. horrbly hard!

  15. Cath Ennis says:

    Congratulations, Alejandro! Nice medals.
    Åsa, prepositions are evil. I edit more prepositions than anything else in text written by colleagues with English as a foreign language. Luckily, you can often swap them and still preserve the meaning.

  16. Alejandro Correa says:

    Thanks you Cath.

  17. Åsa Karlström says:

    Cath> like a [British] friend said to me last year “you’re very good at English but then those prepositions show up and it is very obvious ^^ ” … duh 😉 ..but I am working on it!

  18. Elizabeth Moritz says:

    How does someone become a pro in curling? Are there any high school or club teams that kids join in hopes of someday making it to the Olympics? Not sure how the U.S. is in curling, but due to the lack of curling teams in my area growing up, I’m going to assume we’re coming in as underdogs.
    P.S. Cath, I’m very very jealous of your ability to walk to the Olympic Games from your house

  19. Åsa Karlström says:

    Elizabeth> The five women in the Swedish women team all have “normal” jobs during the day. I would guess it’s like most of the sports in Sweden, you join a club (we’re not good on school sport teams) and start playing?
    Here is a link to the team:http

  20. Alejandro Correa says:

    There will always be losers and winners.
    P.S. Cath, always been winning in all areas.

  21. Jennifer Rohn says:

    I just can’t get past that inappropriate image of marmots in hair curlers.

  22. Kyrsten Jensen says:

    Curling is a natural pastime in the ‘burbs and small towns – and it is often a huge social activity. My best friend just started working in “Oliver BC at Road13″http://www.road13vineyards.com/, and she is dismayed that there is nothing to do but join a curling team. In fact, most of my friends in Calgary curled in their spare time. I guess they were testing out the bounds of friction .

  23. Cath Ennis says:

    Elizabeth, I knew a few people in Scotland who were really into it. They were all from families where the parents were into it too. One of these women took her curling very seriously indeed, and after much persuasion, finally got her whole lab to go and try it one night. One of the other techs came in the next day with two missing front teeth and a black eye. Turns out that beer, ice, and big heavy stones (4 marmots worth!) to fall onto are not a good combination…
    And yes, it will be mega-cool to walk to the Olympic Games. Once in a lifetime and all that. To be honest, it’s the primary reason we’re going to the curling!
    Åsa, I think the British team is amateur too, don’t know about the Canadians (curling’s pretty big here, and is often on the TV, so there may actually be a pro circuit). I remember after the last Games, some comedian saying it was nice that British Olympic pride rested on the shoulders of four Scottish housewives with brooms, and a posh tart on a tea-tray (a good description of skeleton, IMHO. I want to try the bobsled when they start taking paying customers down it after the Games, though!)

  24. Cath Ennis says:

    Jenny, why would you want to get past that image? It’s hilarious!
    Kyrsten, tell her the story about the missing front teeth, and advise her to limit beer consumption until she gets the hang of things!

  25. Eva Amsen says:

    I just want mittens….
    The Bay in Toronto stocked up on Olympic mittens on Tuesday morning. They sold out of the women’s size in 45 minutes. I arrived 9 hours after that. They’re restocking again next week, but don’t know what day, so my only chance is to be at The Bay at opening hours on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday – after that I’m packing/moving/leaving. I don’t know if I’m committed enough…

  26. Eva Amsen says:

    I need a coach. An Olympic coach who will yell at me if I don’t get up early to go to the store for mittens.

  27. Cath Ennis says:

    Ironically, the mittens are probably less popular in the host city than anywhere else in Canada. (There are too many NIMBYs here. Can’t they go somewhere else instead and stop bothering me?) I might be going to the Bay on Saturday so I’ll keep an eye out for mittens for you! If that doesn’t work out, I’ll try at the four venues I’ll be attending in the first week of the Games – or do you want them before that? Is there just the one women’s size?

  28. Cath Ennis says:

    “Hurry! Hurry Hard!”

  29. Kristi Vogel says:

    Your average Canadian curling spectator (and many a participant, too, although probably not in the Olympics) gets through one pint every eighteen minutes. Therefore there are 16 CST per pint
    Forget the missing teeth and black eyes … that’s a rough sport.
    How much beer might a marmot ‘chuck, if a marmot could ‘chuck beer?

  30. Eva Amsen says:

    “Is there just the one women’s size?”
    There are kids mittens (tiny!) and L/XL mens size (enormous! Would fit my feet!) and then the in between S/M size, which everyone wants (including bigger-than-tiny children and non-giant men)

  31. Cath Ennis says:

    Kristi, I refer you to Kyrsten’s previous comment about there being nothing else to do in small towns…

  32. Alejandro Correa says:

    Curling is a natural pastime in the ‘burbs and small towns, and it is often a huge social activity
    The curling should be similar to bowling that is played in Spain, like the beaver is an marmot. I remember that the spanish always played the game with a great boot of wine and his beret in the head.

  33. Alejandro Correa says:

    I need a coach
    I could be your olympic coach in swimming, but virtually.

  34. steffi suhr says:

    Thanks for some good laughs, Cath! And I note that this post seems to be popular primarily with women. I don’t know the significance of that, just sayin’.

  35. Cath Ennis says:

    Hmmm, I hadn’t noticed that! And it’s not even pink…
    p.s. you’re welcome!

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