Dad's Dizzy

No, it's not a spring baseball reverie about my dad snoozing on the couch while Dizzy Dean and PeeWee Reese did the play-by-play of baseball games in the early Sixties. This time that apostrophe doesn't denote a possessive. Dad is dizzy, or he was yesterday. The doctors told him he might be goofed up because of crystals in his ears.

Unbeknownst to most of us vertebrates, we have calcium deposits in our ears. Bits of this calcareous material can break off and float around in the inner ear fluid, like baby icebergs awaiting the Titanic. These teeny-weeny otoliths sometimes impinge upon nerve endings due to changes of position and gravity. And wouldn't Impinging Otoliths be a great name for a rock band?? This type of dizziness is called benign positional vertigo.

Ear crystals sounds very New Age. Put an ear, maybe Van Gogh's ear, under a pyramid to grow crystals with powerful energy. In Bluebirds we grew crystals on charcoal briquettes in foil pie pans in Julie B's basement. True, I've met some children and adults who listen like they have briquettes in their ears, but this is not the case with Dad.

After Bluebirds, we entered Camp Fire where we had to meet requirements in science as well as nature, citizenship, art, home, sports, and other areas. When I showed some interest in electricity, Dad helped me by providing a dry cell battery, wires, a light bulb, pegboard, and a telegraph toggle for my guided experiments. He also gave me a crystal radio kit for Christmas, or maybe prompted Santa along that line. Unfortunately, all I remember about the crystal radio experiment is the red headphone set and wrapping the wire around and around a tube.

It's been forty years. You would think kids these days could cross two wires and disintegrate oto-icebergs the same way they defeat aliens on those video games. The possibilities are dizzying.

Otolith is from the Greek oto indicating ear, and lithos for stone; one of many minute calcareous particles found in the inner ear of certain vertebrates and in the statocysys of many invertebrates.

Calcareous is from the Latin calx for lime; containing calcium, calcium carbonate, or limestone: chalky

Crystal is from the Latin crystallum which is from the Greek krustallos. And here I thought krustallos were those burnt toast crumbs in the bottom of the toaster oven.

Impinge is also Latin from impingere to push against. To encroach or trespass...Maybe Encroaching Otoliths is a better band name.

Some Camp Fire science projects:
Learn Morse code.
Make a string telephone.
Record a mock radio broacast.
Write and send a telegram.
Make a crystal radio set.

© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder

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