August: An Idle Gallery
by Richard L. Howey, Wyoming, USA
I HATE August!!! My wife and my friends tell me that I’m being irrational, but I’m not so sure. I’ve had this antipathy since I was a child and, no doubt, at that period, it had something to do with having to go back to school. And then I went on to university and thereafter for 40 years taught at a university and, of course, almost every August meant returning to the classroom in one guise or another. However, that doesn’t really explain much since I loved teaching, although admittedly, not the committee meetings, department meetings, conferences, nor listening to dreary, boring papers delivered by tedious visiting academics.
So, there must be some other possibilities and indeed there are. First of all, there is the issue of heat; I do not function well when the temperature reaches much above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which is why over 40 years ago, my wife and I moved to Laramie, at an altitude of 7,200 feet, which at that time had a cool brisk climate even during most of the summer. That has gradually changed and significantly so over the past decade and the increases in temperature are directly connected to my increased temperamentalness and my energy and motivation levels sink dramatically as I enter a semi-vegetative state.
However, the basics are even starker: August seems, for me at least, jam-packed with unpleasant and unfortunate events. I won’t bore you with specifics, but merely observe that my level of indolence goes through the roof and I get very lazy. So, this gallery is a reflection of idleness. I shall pick out some images which I still have the energy to appreciate and make as few, brief comments about them as is possible for a creature cursed with loquacity. By the way, I am writing this in September, thus out of reach of the hostility of the Augustan demonic deities intent on inflicting their pernicious punishments on critics.
So, to demonstrate my idleness, I will present a log of images of crystals taken with polarized light and I shall do so, as I said, with a minimum of comment in order to underscore my indolence.
I will present 3 basic groups using 3 different approaches: 1) Crystals produced by mixing a common household product with a prescription medication which has expired or which I am no longer taking or of which I have an extra. 2) A mixture of a fairly easily obtained chemical such as Magnesium chloride, Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), or Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and a bit of an organism, such as a fish scale or a tiny fragment of a sea urchin spine or a bit of cuttlefish “bone”. 3) A chemical mixed with a biological stain such as Orange G, Safranin O, or DAPI.
1) Common household product + prescription medication
A) Ascorbic Acid + Codeine sulfate
A constant delight for me is the wonderful range of variation one can achieve with a particular combination of substances especially when using compensators. I used to take codeine sulfate for my migraines but, as I got older, I discovered that sometimes the codeine made the headaches worse and the side effects of opiates are such that I decided that they should be used only as a last resort and not at all by old curmudgeons like me. So now, the remainder of that prescription appears in my crystal images. These four images were all taken from the same slide.
B) Ascorbic Acid + Metformin
Metformin is a medication widely used in treatment of Type 2 diabetes. It was prescribed for me and after a few months, I stopped taking it–I didn’t like the side effects: passing out, falling, and weakness. Further testing revealed that, in fact, I am only pre-diabetic which, I take it, is something like being pre-pregnant. So, another batch of pills for me to experiment with and I’ll show you 6 images of this combination again, remarkably, all from a single slide.
The next 2 images are among my special favorites; I am especially fond of the swirls which to me convey a sense of motion.
And, finally, for this group, a feathery image.
C) Magnesium chloride + Metformin
This combination produces strong, linear, geometric forms with striated layers which show up nicely with polarization.
2) Mixtures of a fairly easily obtained chemical and a bit of an organism.
A) Ascorbic Acid + Fish Scale + Sea Urchin Tooth fragment.
Again, I like the color swirling forms.
B) Citric Acid + Sea Urchin Spine Fragment
Large, block colorful forms
C) Magnesium chloride + Fish Scale
Here again, we encounter blocky, geometric forms, this time in a wide range of pastel colors.
D) Cuttle fish “bone”
In the pet section for birds, there was a packet with a cuttlefish “bone” for helping birds keep their beaks sharp. I shaved some fragments from it with a scalpel and here is the result.
I debated with myself as to whether or not I should include mixtures with Stevia in this category and decided that I would since, although the extract has produced a crystalline product, the shrub Stevia was at one time a living entity.
E) Stevia + Nickel Sulfate + Metformin
Here I like the arcs which are rather like crystalline rainbows.
F) Stevia + Ascorbic Acid
These images compared with the 2 above demonstrate that Stevia (which is a natural sugar substitute) can show delightful variability.
3) A chemical mixed with a biological stain.
I am particularly fond of these kinds of combinations because of the extraordinary variability which the stains can provide.
A) Magnesium chloride + DAPI (a fluorescent stain)
B) Magnesium chloride + Orange G
C) Magnesium chloride + Safranin O
And finally, among my top favorites:
D) Eosin + Sanafitil (a topical fungicide)
I hope you have enjoyed this little gallery tour and will experiment SAFELY with some combinations that with polarized light and compensators will reveal to you directly the beauty of the world of crystals and, incidentally help you escape the onslaughts of August.
All comments to the author Richard Howey are welcomed.
Editor's note: Visit Richard Howey's new website at http://rhowey.googlepages.com/home where he plans to share aspects of his wide interests.
Published in the September 2015 edition of Micscape Magazine.
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