What would life on Mars be like?

Could there be life on Mars?  Scientists have long speculated (and continue to do so), although there’s more hope than ever.  They also wonder if humans might ever have a colony there.  But now the question is more like, “Would we want to?”

One of the reasons it’s improbable to find life on Mars is that the atmosphere doesn’t contain oxygen.  And it was thought that all organic life requires oxygen.  But a few years ago an organism was found that can live without sunlight and oxygen.  It’s a methanogen.  They eat hydrogen, breathe carbon dioxide, and belch methane.  A group of these were found in Idaho, living 660 feet underground.  They also exist in the digestive tracts of humans, causing gas.  If these bacteria are what life might be like on Mars, it might be a stinky place.

But there’s more.  Mars stinks naturally.  The surface of the red planet contains a very high concentration of sulfur.  Combined with other acids and minerals on Mars, it forms hydrogen sulphide (H2S), which is that rotten egg smell you may have experienced before.  And not only does it stink immensely, but it can cause headaches, and it is also explosive and poisonous.  So if you were living on Mars, you might be tempted to light a candle to reduce the stench (as some people are accustomed to doing), and KA-BOOM!

I’m thinking I’ll just stay here on Earth.  While there’s a few bad smells to deal with here, it’s not nearly so bad as it would be on Mars.

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my trip to the 2007 Faulkner County Fair

I went to the Faulkner County Fair the other night, to see what-all was going on.  I’ve been to numerous small-town fairs and carnivals, so I expected this one to be bigger and better since it’s in a city of over 50,000 people.  But I was disappointed.  It wasn’t that much different, and everything has become so expensive.  I knew the food would be high, but the rides were even higher!  My wife and I were going to ride the Ferris Wheel, but then we discovered it costs $8 for the two of us, and it’s not that exciting.  Is that the typical going fare for carnival rides now?  It would get expensive real quick to participate in even a quarter of the rides and games there.

Now on to a few less-serious observations.  Seeing the kiddie rides brought back memories of years past.  There was a carousel horse ride, and I remembered riding on it as a kid.  Of course I don’t care about riding it now, but I imagined how it might struggle under my current weight.  Picture it going slow, the music dragging, smoke coming out from underneath…  🙂

There was a rock climbing / wall scaling attraction, and it was kinda funny to see some people try the expert side but then not even get off the first set of handles.  I knew better than to even try that…

We got a candy apple (covered in caramel) there, and it was really good.  Also saw where a concession stand was selling nachos, and I remembered seeing in Walmart a product that advertised itself as the nacho cheese featured in concession stands.  I’m not sure that’s a good way to market your product.  Although when I was a kid, I thought it was good.  But now that I’ve had much better nachos and cheese dip, that “fake” cheese just doesn’t seem so good anymore.  But to each their own…

We did get to see a lot of farm animals, like cows, goats, pigs, and chickens.  There’s nothing like that fresh, natural, barnyard scent, featuring lots of methane and manure.  I guess you get used to it if you work with them.

I was thinking the carnival could’ve been so much more.  I’m sure kids would enjoy it, but there wasn’t a lot of grown-ups.  I would’ve rode the bumper cars, but my long legs don’t fit in there too well anymore.  (I still remember the first time I realized I had become too tall to ride them.  It was a sad day, indeed.)

They should include some virtual reality rides there.  They could be built into a trailer that unpacks, so transport would be easier than the other stuff they had.  And I think a lot of people would be interested in it.  They could also have some state-of-the-art video games.  Maybe next year…

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It’s International Talk Like A Pirate Day

Ahoy, me hearty!  Today be International Talk Like A Pirate Day, which is a great, grand holiday indeed!  Today you must talk like a pirate whene’er you get the chance.  ARRR!  To ye lily-livered landlubbers, don’t ye be afraid of this.  It’ll make e’reyones day a bit more surreal.  Aye!

Now I must get back to my swashbucklin’ out on the seven seas…  ARRR!  🙂

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researching the effect of slacking at work

If you haven’t heard, I lost my job last week, as part of a corporate layoff due to economic reasons.  So while I’m pondering what kind of career I want, I came up with what would be perfect for me.  It would be a major career change, but I’m open to new ideas.

The government pays all kinds of groups to do research.  I could conduct a study on the impact of slacking at work.  There are a lot of studies already done on the effects of taking breaks at work (and they all say it’s a good thing), so slacking would somewhat fit that, in that it’s like a break, but it’s different.  And here’s where it’s best for me — since my job would be researching and the point of the research is how slacking affects it, I would be getting paid to not work.  How great is that?

So now I just have to figure out how to get this approved and sponsored.  I think it would be a very beneficial study, and I’m willing to make the necessary sacrifices to see it come to fruition.  This would help corporations realize the importance of a relaxed atmosphere / environment in the workplace.  And this would be a job that I’d enjoy working on.

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