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Language Log

Thursday, Dec. 04, 2008 - 8:04 a.m.

I put in a $325 order for supplies yesterday. Ouch. I'll use everything I ordered, though. But still.

I finally got rid of the bottle of mercury. Have I mentioned it before? A small glass bottle sealed with a cork, containing about 50ml of slowly oxidizing (apparently not entirely pure) mercury. It was my dad's, he carted it around since his childhood (I assume-- that's when he was into chemistry, and the bottle looked really old. 1920s appropriate). Onto the boat. In storage. Into the house. Always safely stored inside a sock in his dresser. Did I mention that it was sealed with a cork? He showed it to me one or two times when I was a child, to shwo me about mercury and to impress upon me that I was not to try to get the cork out and play with it. It iwas fun-- impurities already beginning to oxidize, you could shake it and see the splash of silver against the glass. A mirror in a bottle.

Anyway, my mom gave it to me a few years ago (she was going to throw it out, I think, yikes), and over time the gravity of the situation sank in, and I began to feel very anxious about it. So finally I took it to my Swahili pal's lab, where their guy will take it away, off to some safe disposal. Yay. I wanted to take some pictures of it, but didn't. Oh, well.

I feel better. Every once in a while I would have a series of vivid worries about some future child opening it, or the cork just crumbling and seeping into my clothing in the dresser, or something. Nothing good could come of it, and sooner or later, bad things would happen. So yay. After a mere 8 years of thinking about it and doing nothing, I finally managed to rid myself of it. Not bad for me.

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