Skepchick Quickies 11.11

On November 11, 1966, NASA launched Gemini 12. On board were Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell (who was later on Apollo 13).


Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. In elementary school (1986-1992), I’m pretty sure I two-strapped my backpack, but I also don’t remember it really being a “thing” one way or the other. Then again, I wasn’t exactly one of the “cool kids.” Once in middle school, though (1992-1995), I started getting teased for two-strapping — not much, but, you know, a little — and switched to one-strapping. Early in high school (1995-1999), though, a few people started… well, not teasing, but telling me “Wow, you’re going to, like, KILL your back doing that,” and I switched back to two-strapping because they were totally right.

  2. Yeah, my experience with backpacks was pretty (apparently) typical for my cohort: two straps in elementary school, one strap in middle school and even upgrading to the single-strap shoulder bag for a year or so in high school, but then we had to haul around so many really heavy textbooks that it became completely impractical and everyone just used both straps all the time. Definitely two straps in college, when you’re hauling a laptop around — it’ll be interesting to see if the rise of the tablet changes that again.

    I should note that I have a single-strap messenger bag again, but this one has an additional strap that goes underneath the other arm and straps the thing securely to my back. It’s not for cool-factor, it’s for mobility while riding my bicycle. Two-strap backpacks ride up and hit my helmet, particularly when wearing a parka during the winter, and that’s dangerous.

    1. My new favorite backpack is a Vespa-brand pack. It’s small, has tons of pockets, is well-made, and I picked it up for $15. It’s perfect for my tablet plus I also use it as a mobile diaper bag.

  3. I would like to donate towards the relief effort in the Philippines, but through an atheist organization so that there will be some record of aid coming from atheists. Does anyone know of a way to do this?

    1. Sorry to bother everybody, I should have searched Freethoughtblogs first for an answer. You can donate to the Citizen’s Disaster Response Center by way of the Foundation Beyond Belief. They are based in the Phillipines, and so are already “on the ground”. 100% of your donation goes to CDRC, the foundation does not take a cut.


  4. I’m feeling all kinds of ambivalent about the story of the model wearing masculine fashion. I grew up in the eighties, and the androgynous look was kind of a revolutionary, kind of gay thing to do. I was not particularly interested in wearing what one calls “feminine” clothes. Ever.

    So, I just wonder if we are trying to enforce gender roles here by saying a fashion model is appropriating trans narratives? I mean, if she is supposed to stick to what our culture deems feminine, am I also obliged? And does that oblige trans folks to the fashion of their transitioned gender? Should a trans woman only wear pretty, feminine clothes, or should she not be able to put on overalls and work in the garden?

  5. I used a rolling duffle bag, it had back straps, but I usually just carried it with one arm. I got made fun of for it, but I was easily the most prepared person in the whole school. My current disaster bag is based on it. It contained*:

    External media (mostly DVD-RW’s, at least one thumb drive that I remember)
    Phone charger
    Laptop charger
    Geometry kit (protractor, ruler, compass)
    Two calculators (TI-89, solar powered)
    Two steel water bottles
    Collapsible water bottles (five days if filled to capacity)
    Purification tablets
    Five days worth of food (not GOOD food, but food)
    Can opener
    Wrench and socket set
    Wire cutters/strippers
    Soldering kit
    Jumper cables
    Tow rope
    Duct tape
    Velcro ties
    Utility knife
    Eating utensils
    Collapsible cups
    Air horn
    Fire extinguisher
    Two man tent
    Sleeping bag (rated for minus forty)
    Two T-shirts
    Two pairs of jeans
    Five pairs of boxer shorts
    Ten pairs of socks (eight regular, two thick wool)
    Rain coat and hip waders
    Winter jacket
    Three pairs of gloves (winter, work, and mechanics gloves)
    Winter boots
    Sewing kit
    Toilet paper
    First-aid kit
    Hand sanitizer
    Batteries (assorted sizes, rechargeable, with charger)
    Ethernet cables
    USB cables
    Universal charging kit

    And a binder containing information on first-aid, survival, machine maintenance and repair, electronics and maps (all laminated, of course), as well as two hundred dollars in fives and fifty dollars in coins.

    …I read a lot of apocalyptic fiction.

    *based on my current disaster bag inventory, plus a few items I remember having, minus a few recent additions.

    1. Oh, I almost forgot

      Math book from the sixties (it wasn’t a textbook, it was a paper-back filled with guides on how to do all sorts of problems with just pen and paper and a bunch of tables of things like tangent, sine, cosine values, etc. I found it in the library, and seeing as it hadn’t been checked out since 1991, just took it).

      I also kept a multi-tool on me at all times.

        1. Already have the garbage bags and shovel. They’re not in the bag, but right next to it, as they’re part of the everyday use of my truck (the shovel is because Canada). However, now that I think of it I might want to keep a full box of bags in the bag just in case I’m out or running low the moment disaster strikes (the whole point of disaster preparedness is that you don’t know when it’ll happen). The aluminum foil is already in there (serves a bunch of purposes, not least being that I can cook things in it). And I might swing by UFA for some bailing wire.

      1. Yeah, the trick is to keep anything perishable in semi-constant rotation. For instance every once in a while (usually about once a week) I’ll eat a meal or two out of the bag and replace it. It also gives me a reason to go through it periodically.

        If you’re preparing for the all-out-holy-fuck apocalypse, it’s good to think of things you might take entirely for granted that might seem trivial. Good example being spices. Some spices were worth their weight in gold back in the day. There’s a good reason for that.

  6. LOL, and I thought only ultra right wing nutjobs were survivalists!
    Tell me, how much of that stuff have you actually used? I imagine getting thru the airport would be a bit of an issue.

  7. I don’t take the bag to the airport with me, it just sits in the back of my truck. I will admit that disaster preparation is a minor hobby of mine (and the forums are filled to the brim with whackaloons), but it does have some practical application, mostly because my job takes me into the bush a lot, the only items listed above that I’ve never used are the purification tablets, candles, and flares. Everything else has come in handy at least once. Besides, being prepared for the inevitable hiccups in life can easily stop them from becoming full blown disasters in the first place.
    Besides, LARPing the apocalypse might actually save my or someone else’s life someday. And it’s not like I’m actually expecting the end of the world, my priorities are actually determined by likelihood of certain events, namely:
    Forest fire causing evacuation (happens all the time, Slave Lake being a really good recent example)
    Snow storm causing loss of essential services (happened in Quebec)
    Civil unrest causing mass migrations (unlikely but one good plague could easily result in huge social disruption)
    Meteor impact (we could easily, easily get caught off guard).
    Limited nuclear exchange (I should remind you that I live in Canada, a nation situated directly between two major nuclear powers).
    Something completely unpredictable (this may be the most likely one, as it covers a great many kind of situation from small personal emergencies to all out global catastrophes).

    So there’s that.

  8. I certainly take your point, especially considering the increasing probability of natural disasters. Your list makes interesting reading and should be a good starting point. Cool.

  9. I’m pretty sure the Mpemba effect is not actually a thing. It takes water time to cool from hot to cold. So cold water has a head start in the freezing process. Water doesn’t remember how hot or cold it used to be.

    I think Mpemba has re-discovered N-Rays.

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