• Conference presentation post-mortem the second
    Conference presentation post-mortem the secondA sun-dappled path at Portland’s Japanese Garden.I believe I consistently and correctly used the microphone throughout.1 I have not checked the recording to confirm; I am unfond of my voice, and I was there so I don’t really need to listen to the panel again. Though if you weren’t there, Teressa Raiford is most definitely worth listening to, both from a content and presentation perspective. I had…View On WordPress
  • othmeralia: One of the most enjoyable parts of digitizing...
    othmeralia: One of the most enjoyable parts of digitizing archival material is knowing that quirky little pieces of the past will be easily accessible to a wide audience. One of the most depressing parts of digitizing archival material is knowing that some gems may remain accessible only to onsite researchers. But Othmeralia to the rescue! This photocopy of a printout of a web page from 1995 does not come anywhere close to meeting our criteria for digitization and inclusion in our digital repository. It does, however, meet my personal criteria for quick smartphone shots and hastily-drafted Tumblr posts. And so I present you J. Sass’s account of the history of the Irvine facility of Beckman Instruments. It is a gripping drama involving biotechnology research, corporate amnesia, commute management, a battle for ISO-9000 compliance, and goats. (Seriously, whatever happened to the goats? Are they still out there, roaming the coast of Southern California?)
  • othmeralia: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in...
    othmeralia: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over. But it can’t. Not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that?  Is the sedimentation getting you down?
  • othmeralia:Let me present my nominee for Most 1950s Letter Ever,...
    othmeralia:Let me present my nominee for Most 1950s Letter Ever, in which (Miss) G. F. Hulek explains that her boss is out of the office because he’s attending an atomic bomb test.
  • Conference presentation post-mortem
    I finally did a presentation as part of a conference panel.1 I kind of feel like I am too old to be hitting this very modest professional milestone, but I also feel like I ought to mark it because it is a Thing I did, and it’s not like I’m the only career-changer out there.2 So I have my little speaker ribbon, I did a Thing, and now I never again have to do that Thing for the first time. This was…View On WordPress
  • othmeralia: Is your workplace filled with curious children on...
    othmeralia: Is your workplace filled with curious children on this Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day (April 27th)?The Brea, California campus of Beckman Coulter certainly was about fifteen years ago. Arnold Beckman and a crew of volunteers were on hand for the event, which appeared to feature balloons, a tour of the facilities, employee presentations and Q&As, and a lecture by an Albert Einstein cosplayer.Beckman Historical Collection
  • othmeralia: I am a big fan of this 1976 ad. In many ways, it’s a...
    othmeralia: I am a big fan of this 1976 ad. In many ways, it’s a very standard Beckman ad: relatively long tag line, lots of text describing the virtues of the instrument and a decidedly non-glamorous photo of the instrument. The hand-drawn art is not, in and of itself, an outlier (though it may be unique in appearing to stab through the fourth wall). But let me draw your attention to the manicure. The finger pushing the button is clearly intended to be a woman’s. This, again, is not an outlier. The Beckman Historical Collection is filled with photographs and promotional materials depicting women scientists and technicians using Beckman instruments. (While many of those shots are staged, and some may have used models, the intent is clearly to depict women doing everyday tasks. If you compare the Beckman materials with, say, the Bendix oeuvre, the differences in women’s attire, focus, and body position are quite apparent.) But the feminine finger takes on a greater significance when paired with the tagline: “Your finger and our button.” The ad is addressing not just the future user of the instrument, but someone who has a voice in purchasing decisions—and that someone is a woman.
  • othmeralia: librarianwardrobe: It’s always a team effort at...
    othmeralia: librarianwardrobe: It’s always a team effort at the Othmer Library of Chemical History in Philadelphia, PA. Gnomes, Glasses, Handknit, Polka Dots, Argyle, Psychedelic Patterns, The Southwest U.S., and Hufflepuff Badgers - we rock all styles! #sockweek My colleagues are pretty awesome. Yay for #sockweek! Thanks, @librarianwardrobe! My husband made the rainbow entrelac I’m wearing in the picture, because he’s pretty awesome and a good knitter.
  • othmeralia: It’s Women’s History Month, but let’s also remember...
    othmeralia: It’s Women’s History Month, but let’s also remember the gentlemen! Specifically, this unidentified gentleman, looking very manly as he measures pH.  Much of the early material in our Beckman collection relates to pH meters, which gave Arnold Beckman his start as a manufacturer of scientific instruments. The Model G was a commercial breakthrough for the company, first introduced in 1937 but pictured above in the mid-50s.  The Model G was a compact and rather elegant device. One page of instructions came tucked into the lid, providing information about the electrodes, the instrument’s operation, and servicing. The door on the front provided access to a compartment for the electrodes. Though it’s a little unclear in this black-and-white photo, the case is wood—a far cry from the later Beckman aesthetic of gray-metal-box-with-knobs. Beckman Historical Collection
  • othmeralia: It’s International Bagpipe Day (March 10th)! To...
    othmeralia: It’s International Bagpipe Day (March 10th)! To celebrate, we thought we’d share this photo of Arnold Beckman on a 1960 visit to the Beckman Instruments, Ltd. plant in Fife. Beckman Historical Collection
  • othmeralia: Why did the chicken cross the road? To dance a...
    othmeralia: Why did the chicken cross the road? To dance a sultry tango with a research chemist. Or something. I guess. Maybe readers of Chemical & Engineering News in need of commercial quantities of n-dioctyl thioether, n-decanophenone, n-heptadecyl bromide or n-pentadecyl benzene got the joke.
  • The top 100 things that frighten me when I use a public restroom
    mhpmiller: There is currently a good deal of debate about safety in public restrooms. I would like to throw another data point into the conversation: a highly personalized list representing the opinions of one particular cis het white woman. Depending on the situation, the precise order of items in this list might shift (am I alone? Is the bathroom well lit? How badly do I need to go?) but it’s a fairly solid representation of the frightening things I contemplate when using the restroom. 1. Flukeman. 2. The fakir who travels around in the body cavities of the people he murders. 3. No toilet paper. 4. The ghostly mother of Phantom Dennis looming in the mirror behind me. 5. Natasha Henstridge bursting through the wall to kill me because women are terrifying baby-mad predators. 6. Eugene Tooms. 7. A mess on the toilet seat that I can’t just pretend is a bit of water splashed up by a particularly vigorous flush. 8. Zombies. 9. J-horror gets its own line item. 10. Autoflush in a stall I thought was empty. 11. Autoflush in my stall while I’m still sitting on the toilet. 12. Any malevolent supernatural entity, drawn from any combination of media, folklore, and my own psyche, looming in the mirror behind me or peering into my stall. 13. A violent man. 14. A violent woman. Let’s call it 15-66 for assorted X-Files episodes that aren’t springing to mind at the moment, but might the next time I go to the restroom. (Probably monster-of-the-week episodes, not mythology, because I’m really not all that scared by the thought of William B. Davis talking about aliens and blowing smoke in my face.) 67. The killer bees in the restroom was a mythology episode, but now that I think of it killer bees attacking me in the restroom (or anywhere else) is kind of scary. 68. No soap. 69. That Stephen King story with the pencil through the eye and the body in the toilet stall, even though that was the men’s room. 70. A restroom that is closed for maintenance. 71. A restroom that needs to be closed for maintenance. 72. Automatic hand dryers rather than paper towels, because sometimes you need to clean up a mess and that’s a lot easier if you have paper towels to wipe off food or whatever other substance a child has smeared all over your body or theirs. 73. An obviously clogged toilet which forces me to decide whether I need to go so badly that I’ll be one of the jerks making it even harder on the janitor. 74. Dropping something onto the floor and having to decide how much real and psychological dirt has contaminated it. 75. A really long line. 76. A separate line item for a women’s room with a really long line next to a men’s room with no line. 77. No lock, so I have to hold the stall door closed with my feet. 78. Forgetting to check whether the seat is down and inadvertently sitting on the cold, narrow, psychologically dirty porcelain rim. 79. No coat hook. 80. A distant or otherwise inconveniently located restroom. 81. Toilet paper getting stuck to my shoe. Let’s call it 82-96 for inadequate changing facilities. (This isn’t much of an issue any more, but it made a really big impression over the course of several years when it was a high priority.) 97. No water. 98. Really, really cold water. 99. William B. Davis talking about aliens and blowing smoke in my face. 100. Germs. (Not cracking the top 100: trans women peeing.) Because apparently this is relevant again.
  • othmeralia: “Enter the ageless age”…which is best represented by...
    UOP "Enter the ageless age" ad with photo of sausages cooking in a pan, Chemical & Engineering News, 1971 UOP "Enter the ageless age" ad with photo of a woman standing next to a beach chair, Chemical & Engineering News, 1971 othmeralia: “Enter the ageless age”…which is best represented by sausages and a bikini-clad woman at the beach.  These Universal Oil Products ads appear in 1971 issues of Chemical & Engineering News, and at first I attributed a Freudian significance to the rather odd juxtaposition. Now I repent such base thoughts (or perhaps I’ve just gotten a bit hungry). I instead wonder if the woman looks pleased because there’s a cookout on the beach and she is anticipating yummy sausage made with Sustane®—because what is more delicious than a proven antioxidant? In both cases, the text of the ad suggests that the target customer for consumer goods is a woman…and that the purchasers of UOP’s chemicals had best consider her lifestyle and buying habits.
  • othmeralia: The Boy Scouts of America was founded on this date...
    othmeralia: The Boy Scouts of America was founded on this date (February 8) in 1910. In 1957, Arnold Beckman was present for an Eagle Scout Award ceremony. The Scout is unidentified. I (briefly) went down the rabbit hole of trying to decode a decades-old uniform and cross-check it with lists of councils and troops available online. But Scout identification is not, alas, actually part of my job description (and, in fact, “Arnold Beckman with unidentified man” is a thing I find myself typing pretty frequently). So “unidentified Scout” he shall remain, unless anyone in Tumblrland wants to take the research upon themselves. Beckman Historical Collection
  • othmeralia: If praising the “medium cost” of the Series 4200...
    othmeralia: If praising the “medium cost” of the Series 4200 seemed understated, in this 1966 ad Beckman touts the CG-5 as the “second-best gas chromatograph in the world.”  Of course, they rate their own CG-4 the best in the world.
  • othmeralia: Sometimes an intellectually interesting object is...
    othmeralia: Sometimes an intellectually interesting object is visually uninteresting—perhaps by design. In 1953, the publisher of Scientific American wrote to inform Arnold O. Beckman that the concept for the magazine’s cover had changed: Your flame spectrophotometer was so splendidly encabineted that the working principles were entirely concealed. We therefore oscillated over to the adoption of a beautiful old 19th century spectroscope, brass with the prism bare. Our colleagues in the museum, who are charged with displaying and interpreting this sort of instrument, can doubtless sympathize with the magazine’s dilemma.  Beckman Historical Collection
  • othmeralia: I can only conclude that the people who designed and approved this Chemical &...
    othmeralia: I can only conclude that the people who designed and approved this Chemical & Engineering News ad have never read The Iliad.
  • othmeralia: Ladies, do you want to choose the most suitable...
    othmeralia: Ladies, do you want to choose the most suitable Christmas presents for the special people in your lives? Are you in need of a Christmas cake recipe? What about an economical sponge cake? Look no further than the October 1960 issue of the Glenrothes Bulletin. Why, you may ask, does a library of chemical history in Philadelphia have a copy of a local bulletin from Scotland? As Arnold Beckman’s business expanded, he opened plants across the globe—including one in Glenrothes. In 1960, he and his wife visited Beckman Instruments, Ltd. This issue of the Bulletin included a piece on the visit (along with cake recipes and profiles of local residents) and was included in a charming tartan-covered scrapbook. Beckman Historical Collection
  • othmeralia: Are you doing some last minute Christmas shopping...
    othmeralia: Are you doing some last minute Christmas shopping for the kids? I hear Tri-ang Toys are super…though at this point, it’s probably a bit late to join the Christmas Club. Several decades too late, actually: this ad ran in the October 1960 issue of the Glenrothes Bulletin, which is preserved in a scrapbook documenting Arnold and Mabel Beckman’s visit to Beckman Instruments, Ltd. Eight years later, Peter Montgomery still owned the toy shop. He was also the Commander of the HMS Unicorn, a wooden warship still preserved in Scotland, and bartered toys for the drafting services of expectant mother E. Hogg. (Sometimes a quick Google search reveals delightful information. Shout out to the folks at the Unicorn Preservation Society!) Beckman Historical Collection
  • othmeralia: Happy birthday to philanthropist and homemaker...
    Mabel Meinzer in her Red Cross uniform in 1918. Mabel and Arnold Beckman sitting on the steps of their porch in an undated photograph. Arnold Beckman's idea for a new phonograph system, witnessed by his wife Mabel on May 25, 1968. othmeralia: Happy birthday to philanthropist and homemaker extraordinaire, Mabel Beckman, born on this day (December 20th) in 1900. Mabel Meinzer and Arnold Beckman shared a meet-cute out of a romantic comedy. Because his train was delayed, Arnold Beckman did not deploy overseas but instead enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by volunteers in New York City—Mabel Meinzer among them. The couple married in 1925, raised two children, and were separated only by Mabel’s death in 1989. Despite the length and intimacy of the relationship, Mabel Beckman is not particularly well represented in our archival collection. Her name appears in personal financial records and upon the institutions and buildings the Beckmans funded. Her image is scattered across photographs: posed studio portraits, informal candids, and pictures taken at events. But there is very little of the woman herself, in part because of her intense focus on the domestic sphere. The effort Mabel Beckman spent on cooking, nutrition, collecting, decorating, housekeeping, and child rearing was appreciated, but those are not the sort of activities that leave a rich documentary trail.  Personal accounts indicate that Mabel Beckman was her husband’s confidante, a silent partner in his scientific and business endeavors. One enticing piece of corroborating evidence is found in a ledger kept by Arnold Beckman. Over the course of a decade, he recorded ideas for inventions, daily work logs, financial records, and Christmas lists. On May 25, 1928, he described “A New Phonograph System,” in an entry that bore a strong resemblance to those dealing with a new system of television, a method for sending and reproducing sound waves, and a signal device for speedometers. On the second page appears a note: Witnesses: Read and understood by me - May 25, 1928. Mabel M. Beckman By deploying witnesses, Arnold Beckman created a paper trail for possible future use in developing, patenting, and marketing a new device. Mabel’s signature was a mutual vote of confidence. She believed her husband’s idea made sense and might be worth pursuing. He believed she was not only capable of understanding his notes, but capable of convincing a theoretical future questioner of that fact. This page is tangible evidence of the couple’s partnership. Beckman Historical Collection
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