Ok, so basically, introductions are just about the hardest things to write, EVAH. I just tend to throw myself into them, babbling senselessly, and it always feels like I'm walking up to you and saying, "Hi, remember me? I'm going to try to be funny, now, so humor me. Get it? Humor me? It's a joke. HA HA! Ha? ...nevermind. <sigh>"

So anyway.

I fly a lot for business. Not the big glamorous flights, just the little 18-seater Beechcrafts that you never find out don't have a bathroom until an extremely inopportune moment about 10 minutes into your hour and a half long commuter flight. I've been packing my lunch on these day trips, not because I get tired of fried cheese and beer in airport bars (I don't), but because last time I checked my cholesterol level was higher than my zip code, and I would rather not die of a massive coronary until I have ten freaking minutes to run out and buy pretty underwear. Don't leave, I swear this is going somewhere. Anyway, I came to this massive revelation that at our deepest level, we never really mature much past fifth grade.   What triggered this realization was that I found myself not only nibbling at, but finishing my lunch before we landed.   At 8:30. AM. And I was surprised and depressed at the packet of carrot sticks, even though I had packed them myself.

You're probably scratching your head, figuratively, and wondering what the hell this has to do with Scully. The answer is nothing. It has a lot to do with my hatred of, and general incompetence at, introductory paragraphs, however.

I was having a huge problem coming up with this month's column, and put out the plea on the OBSSE mailing list for topic suggestions. (Oh, I waited until about four hours before deadline, why do you ask?)  Anyway, May Scully Bless and Reward Ptero "don't pronounce the P, it's like, Dutch or something" pod, because this one is her idea (although a special nod goes to Michele for suggesting that I define "Dead." I suspect we will need that definition pretty soon, actually. Sweeps are coming.). Anyway, this month's Scary Scientific Term is SUPERCONDUCTING BALLS.

I know. I'm grinning too. Even better news is that there are only, like, ten pages of details about what exactly is a SUPERCONDUCTING BALL, and that is a good thing, as I now have three and a half hours until Paula comes after me for copy. With a machete. The problem, of course, is that, near  as I can tell, Scully has never mentioned SUPERCONDUCTING BALLS on the series. Ever. Which would be a problem except that this whole SUPERCONDUCTING BALL  thing was huge news in the physics world (Travel Tip:  Don't go there.) last month, and as Scully is knowledegable about all things, I'm pretty sure she will mention them sooner or later. And won't it be nice to know what she is talking about in advance for a change?

So. SUPERCONDUCTING BALLS.. My first thought was "What the hell do they conduct? Trains? Orchestras? Tours? And how hard is that to do without hands?" Silly me.

Evidently, SUPERCONDUCTING BALLS are a recently discovered physics thing. And when I say recent, I mean, like, December. A team of researchers at Southern Illinois University were trying to look at  micron-sized (translation:  really tiny) copper oxide particles, to observe their motion in liquid nitrogen. Nowhere does it explain why they wanted to do this, but I imagine that it has something to do with Sony and Time-Warner taking over the movie distribution channels, and screwing the odds for original movies at theatre chains, and anything is better than watching the latest Schwartzenegger oeuvre, in my opinion, but that's just a theory. Anyway. They zapped these little particles with electric current expecting them to line up in neat little rows, (electric current helps to define a preferred direction in space), but the little buggers curled up into a huge ball. (Which is, come to think of it, pretty much what I would do if someone unexpectedly zapped me with electricity, too.)  There are theories as to why the particles stay in that ball, the leading one being that, in a rectilinear state, the ball has less surface energy than it's individual parts. By the way,  don't you like saying rectilinear? I do. Say it with me: Rectilinear. Reeeectilinnnneeeeaaaar. It's so soothing.

I know you want to see a SUPERCONDUCTING BALL. I did too, so I found a copy of the photo they took.

Cute, isn't it? (Of course It kind of looks like they might have accidently focused the microscope on a dust mite. Boy, that would screw their chances for the Nobel, wouldn't it? Talk about having a bad day at the lab.)

So the next thing I was curious about was the potential use for a SUPERCONDUCTING BALL. Because they are such a recent discovery,  there aren't many, yet, but the research team is looking into applications in the fields of "superconducting thin films and unusual forms of wetting".   No, no, that's a direct quote. I wouldn't lie to you. I mean, yeah, sure I would, but geez, there is simply no need to this month.

SUPERCONDUCTING BALLS in the use of unusual forms of wetting.  This neatly dovetails with my original premise that none of us mature much beyond fifth grade. Not even physicists. Certainly not X-Philes who write columns.


Brought to you by Chish and Beth

We here in the Abbey have a different set of rules than most people.  Oh, sure, we distinguish between right and wrong, but when's the last time your mother's definition of wrong included beige suits and losing toasters? In light of OBSSE Myths and Legends Week on the mailing list, we thought a modified version of the classic board game Chutes and Ladders might help all of us get a better grasp on the intricacies of OBSSE life.  Just think, you're only a few quick downloads and a pair of dice away from a faux pas-free future in the Abbey.


This delightful game is simple and easy to play, even for those of us who aren't members of MENSA.  Fun pictures help nuns understand the rewards of doing good deeds (and entertaining others) and the consequences of naughty ones as they slide down the chutes on that slippery slope to hell.

For 2-7 Players/Ages 0-99

linkgameboard piece 4gameboard piece 3gameboard piece 2gameboard piece 1


   click on the four corners of the above image to
   get four full sized portions of the gameboard to print out

Die (provide your own)
Game pieces:   | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
Be the first nun to reach square #100 and appease the unquenchable thirst of our demure Leader.
How to play
1. Cast the dice.  The nun with the highest number goes first.  Play proceeds to the left.
2.  On your turn, roll the die and move your game piece, square by square, the number you rolled.  For example, if you spin a 5, move to square #5 on the board.  Once you move your game piece, your turn is over.
3. Two or more game pieces may be on the same space at the same time.
4. Going up a ladder or down a chute.

Ladders:  Any time a player ends its move on a picture square at the bottom of a ladder, that pawn must climb up to the picture square at the top of the ladder.  For example, if you end your move on the square with Chris Carter cooking up a little X-Files fun (#4), you can immediately move up to the 100th Episode Celebration on square #31.  Notice that the pictures that these two square are related.

Chutes:  Any time a pawn ends its move on a picture square at the top of a chute, that pawn must slide down the chute to the picture square at the bottom of the chute.  For example, if you end your move on our Little Homework Princess shirking her homework duties (#16), you must immediately move down to square #6.
Winning the game
The first player to reach Autumn's content visage (#100) wins the game.  You can get there 2 ways:
1. Land there by exact count.  If your spin would take you past square #100, don't move.  Try again on your next turn.

2. Climb there by ending your move on square #80.