I missed Toto’s first birthday but discover that I’m dilatanty

[This got edited 9.ix.17 as daughter rightly pointed out that the bit about dilatanty didn’t make much sense as it was.]

That does sound rather like the title from a Winnie the Pooh story “In which Christopher (Robin|Evans) forgets Toto’s birthday and makes an interesting discovery”.  Oh dear, I can see I’m in danger already of going off at tangents and perhaps getting draw into Vinni Puh (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqdiEUp6s4E) but we’ll come back to that another night.

My 2017 life does seem to have become rather busy.  There is some fun and socialising in it, so J and I went to Mosquitos at the NT Dorfman on Tuesday and yesterday evening we met up with daughter’s fairy godmother and both children for a lovely evening so blog rambling took a bit of a battering.

Catching up today I was a bit sorry and embarrassed to realise that I’ve missed yesterday’s anniversary of going over from St. Jean Pied-de-Port up and over the border into Spain. That was quite a day with a pretty tough climb up to the top of the pass and an exhilarating descent.  That was when Toto first got his name and went from “proto-Toto” to simple “Toto”.  Of course, it also represented a huge change for me in the voyage of discovery as I understand little Spanish and speak even less and as it really represented a step into the unknown in terms of the cycling.  I must come back to all that another day.

However, I can’t resist sharing a 2017 discovery: I’m dilatanty.  Never mind Toto being “Toto”, this is big: I really quite like being dilatanty.

I’m being annoying I know!  Yes, I can spell “dilettante” (well, not confidently, but I know it’s not “dilatanty”).  Yes, too, I know I’m am seriously dilettante: I’m always getting into things that fascinate me that I really shouldn’t, but that could get us into diversions into dynamic P-technique and back into ventures from 20 years ago into SEM (Structural Equations Modelling) and names like LISREL, AMOS and LAVAAN which have been diverting me a bit this last week.

[Start of editing of 3.ix.17] So what’s a “dilatanty”?  Well, OK, I admit I made it up, but from “dilatant” which I discover is a real adjuective which I’d never met.  This all started when I got a question from J by text which took me into laminar and turbulent flow.   (We do have such strange and exciting SMS conversations!)   That took me back to dim and distant memories of the Navier Stokes equations and Reynold’s number and hence, into Wikipedia, the black hole or strange attractor without which my universe would be incomplete.

As Wikipedia is not black hole, but really a very rewarding attractor, I emerged from it, which nothing with mass does from a black hole.  The reward I emerged with was “dilatant” and it came about because I looked up “Reynolds number” and, as I love biographical detail, well a little biographical detail, I am a dilettante, I followed a link which took me to Osborne Reynolds (1842-1912; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osborne_Reynolds) he of the famous number.  And it was in that fascinating little biographical piece about him that I found “dilatant materials” for the first time.  They are materials, usually granular materials like sand and soil, which expand when subjected to shear forces.  A shear force acts in one direction on one side of an object, and in the opposite direction on the other side: pick up a pack of cards between finger and thumb, finger on one face of the cards, thumb on the other.  Now slide the finger one way and the thumb the other and you put the pack of cards under a shear(ing) force and what happens, packs of cards being what they are, only very loosely held together in that plane, is that they shear.  Now most materials, like the pack of cards, don’t change their size in an axis perpendicular to the shear forces.  Dilatant materials expand, ah, I got this wrong the other day, dilatant materials do change size, dilative ones expand and contractive ones compress.

The big leap I made the other day was about a continuing preoccupation of mine: what happens to me when I feel under shear forces,  usually from modern bureaucratic mechanisms.  I often feel that one side of me is being pushed and the other pulled.  Thinking about the image of sand or soil changing thickness under shear, I couldn’t help feeling that something grumpy and recalcitrant often expands in me when I feel subjected to such shear forces and stresses.  With a punning leap I realised that I am not just a bad parental celebrator of my bike’s birthday, and hopelessly prone to random thought walks, and hence truly a dilettante — but that I am too a dilantanty.  Actually, two days on now, I recognise that sometimes I crumple and compress in such situations so I am truly dilatanty: sometimes dilative dilatanty, sometimes contractive dilatanty. [End of edited bit, I hope it makes a bit more sense now.  It may make little or no more sense, it was always a bit wild, but at least now I’ve got the physics terminology right.]

And on that note, and grinning stupidly, I shall take myself off from the blogosphere and find a glass, perhaps of Raki, to celebrate that discovery, and to raise that glass toward St. Jean Pied-de-Port, towards Santiago de Compostella.  However, I shall also raise my glass eastwards as, with two lovely colleagues from Ulm and Tirana, we have finally finished a paper today.  We started it, well, planning it, three years ago, I think they had been thinking about it even before that.  This version is version 30 or 31!  OK, what’s in my glass won’t be Raki but Blerta says her glass will be Raki in proper Albanian fashion.

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