Comic Strip of the Day: Friday Funnies

Do geeks dream of electric meters?

Today’s xkcd offers a hint for Christmas shopping if you have someone as geeky as Randall Munroe on your list, and, while the strip is often thought-provoking, it sent me back to Earth Science, which I took in 1963-64, but not because of a hygrometer, though we probably had one.

Nay, better than that: The sling psychrometer, a most wonderful jointed device that, as the name suggests, you slung around like a pair of nunchucks, which, back then, we’d never heard of.


This not only sent me into reveries but sent me off into the googles to see if I was remembering it right, and here it is.

If, like the chap in xkcd, you can’t live without one, there’s where you can get one.

You might want to be kind of careful how you sling it around, because, as you’ll note, the replacement thermometer is $89.95 and, while the instrument itself is (In Stock), the replacement thermometer is merely (Available) and god knows how long that might take.


I would note, too, that the psychrometer measures not just humidity but relative humidity, despite the apparent combination of “Psych” and “chrom” which might make you think it measured what color you only think something is, which is somewhat the point of today’s Pros and Cons, thus proving that I can find a segue between any two objects in the known universe.

“Psychro” — as opposed to “psycho” — comes from the Greek for cold, and the point of slinging the sling psychrometer is to rush air over it and evaporate liquid and then you look on the slide rule thingie and there ya go.

Now, the disadvantage of being in a small rural school in them thar pre-Internet days was that, for academic purposes, we were limited to whatever information was in our school library, unless we wanted to drive an hour or so.


The advantage was that, with no Internet, predicting weather was a whole lot more hands-on and interesting. We got a weather map every day and it was somehow quite up-to-date within the limitations of the US Mail, upon which Congress had not yet declared war.

But despite all thermobars and isobars and other readings on the weather map, we still had to get out the barometer and the sling psychrometer and do all sorts of magical incantations in order to predict the weather, which Mr. Cooper had us do every day throughout the weather curriculum of our Earth Science class.

And we were often more accurate than the weatherman on TV, because TV stations didn’t have meteorologists in those days.

They mostly had cheerful old duffers who stuck cartoony cold fronts and raindrops and clouds on a felt board and read whatever the weather service sent them.

Mind you, in those days, the folks doing the news were serious journalists while the pretty people were off majoring in drama. Today, things have reversed and your local station’s meteorologist is very likely the most highly educated person on the set.

Anyway, buy your favorite geek a sling psychrometer this Christmas.

And then stand back, because those replacement thermometers are expensive.


Also on the topic of technology, Andertoons offers this laugh.

And if you live another 15 or 20 years, this could morph into a real Indiana Jones kind of adventure, seeking the ancient device that would reveal the treasure.

Though I’d rather the rich old fellow had left his will on 16mm Sound-on-Film, so we could have everyone sitting in a dark room while the attorney, having somehow found a projector, was in the back swearing and trying to unjam the film from the sprockets without burning it up or breaking it.

Though, if he had a sling psychrometer, he could wait for the showing until the relative humidity was high enough to make the film slightly less brittle.


Thank goodness today we have YouTube and all sorts of hi-tech ways to enjoy entertainment, which brings us to Baby Blues and a cartoon which makes me wonder if either Rick Kirkman or Jerry Scott are Houston Texans fans.

Houston was once home to the Oilers, but owner Bud Adams uprooted the team after the 1996 season and moved them to Tennessee, where, in 1999, he renamed them the Titans.

Houston regained an NFL team in 2002, which was named the Texans because the Oilers name had been officially retired by the league.

Now the Texans and the Titans are in the same division, the AFC South, which means they play twice every season.

Which in turn means that, twice a year, without fail, this instructive video resurfaces, thanks to a major Houston fan and blogger:

It’s the highlight of the season. Both times.


And, finally … no, really finally …

Moderately Confused brought back a memory from about 40 years ago, when my grandfather died.

My dad asked me to come with him to the funeral home to pick out a casket, which ought to have been an easy task, since my grandfather had left explicit instructions — in writing, not on videotape — that he wanted no fuss, no calling hours, no funeral.

He just wanted to be buried next to my late grandmother, but he allowed as how, if we wanted, her former clergyman could come recite the 23rd Psalm.

But that was it.

So we had to pick out something that would look good for the 15 or 20 minutes anybody was gonna see it.

As the funeral director was extolling the waterproof virtues of this expensive piece of cabinetry, I wondered, and I knew damn well my father was wondering, who the hell cares?

But fair enough. Withstanding groundwater could be a consideration. A bit of respect and all that.

However, when he began to talk about the innerspring mattress, I knew I must not, under any circumstances, glance over at Dad.

The same thought had occurred to him, and so we remained very dignified and solemn.

Until we got about 20 feet down the sidewalk on our way back to the car.


Life was imitating art a bit too well:

5 thoughts on “Comic Strip of the Day: Friday Funnies

  1. I was in high school so long ago that the text book showed us how to make a sling psychrometer.

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