Dictionary, Shmictionary: Bubble Shower Spring

Today’s Post: “Dictionary, Schmictionary” Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).

They’re taking notes, she thought as they rounded a corner around the boardwalk.  The group behind her was filled with respectable professionals, some of them even professors of science.  But it was their first trip to Yellowstone, and she was there to guide them.

Amy, the English major.  And she, herself, had only been working in Yellowstone for two months.

In the visitor center they had asked her what she studied in school she gave only the name of her Master’s degree, “Park Management.”  And left the words hanging in the air.  They must have imagined her as Park Superintendent or GIS expert.  Or so she thought.

They stepped out onto the boardwalk and Amy stepped into the role of the professor.  She had prepared and memorized a lecture to give to her students.  And they were in awe. They were taking notes!

At Doublet Pool the water lapped gently against its banks.  The lecture continued.

“Water hammer occurs in a piping system when the flow is suddenly slowed down or stopped.  A vertical steam filled pipe receives water from above which carries down vapor that condenses rapidly and causes a water hammer.  Thus causing a collapse of the steam bubbles into liquid water,” she quoted from the textbook she had read days before.

She then wrote down the equation for the water hammer occurrence on her small whiteboard.  Delta p is equal to….

Inside she was lamenting her old way of teaching.  She would have the participants sit down on the boardwalk.  From there they could feel the vibrations of the underground steam bubble collapse.  She would then have them hypothesize what could be causing the thud, and only after would give a brief and simple description.

Forget that!  They’re taking notes!

Ahead on the trail was Beach Spring. A small hole in the ground filled with bluish-gray water.  It didn’t boil, it didn’t thud, it did not erupt.  And Amy could only remember from some distant textbook that it was a “bubble-shower spring.”

The lecture continued.

She said, “This is a bubble-shower spring.”

And she turned her back on the group wanting to continue.  Wanting to make it to the Lion Group of geysers where she remembered every bit of jargon.

“What is a bubble shower spring?” asked a man in the back of the line.

Lesson learned: teach what you know.  Be who you are!


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