Give me Frozen Bubbles or Give me Death!

Do you live in the area covered by the polar vortex?  Do you have children?  Are you going stir crazy from being cooped up in your house all day?

Here’s a fun activity to entertain your kids.  Set your children up at a window with a good view of the outside.  Now you take bubble mixture and a small plastic bubble wand out into the cold.  (Note, what follows will work best if you fail to prepare adequately for the weather because you assume that the “fun thing you heard about on the internet” will work without a hitch).  For the first two or so minutes, blow bubbles.  These will immediately blow away in the frigidly cold wind.  They may have frozen, or may not have.  It doesn’t matter because they are far away by now, beyond the viewing area of the window, and you can’t see because the cold is making tears pour from your eyes.  Your tears will freeze, but they will be too small for anyone to see.  By this point, your children will be bored and disappointed, so, soldier on.

Now try blowing the bubbles and catching them on the wand, so that you can exhibit them to the people at the window.  Inevitably, this will produce quite a sight for those at the window; not because you will actually catch a bubble, but because it will cause you to chase said bubbles through the snow, often slipping and falling because you are staring off into the sky while trying to negotiate between ice and powdered snow drifts.  This stage will take you about another three more minutes.  It may feel longer to you though, because at this point your blood will be slowing down in preparation for the immanent collapse of your body, and your perceptions will be significantly compromised.

If you live long enough, you will have the opportunity to wish that your frozen bubble looked this good!

If you live long enough, you will have the opportunity to wish that your frozen bubble looked this good!

When you have abandoned catching a blown bubble (which you really would have done more quickly if it weren’t for the distraction provided by the snow fairies guiding the bubbles which you are now able to see), change strategy again.  Here, it will occur to you that it might work to wave the wand, then catch the bubbles.  Why this would (or would not) be a better plan than the earlier blowing of bubbles will not be cognitively accessible to you, but you won’t care, because fairies.  So, proceed now to wave your arm with whip-like speed, ejecting bubbles, then attempting to return to home position to catch them with your shock absorbing wand.  Ignore the pain of you internal organs rupturing from the icicles now forming in your abdomen.   You need all your concentration to steady your convulsing limbs in order to catch that bubble.  Allow another two minutes for this (in your experience it should feel just a bit longer than a year).

Inevitably, this effort too will fail, but, there is good news.  There is a small chance, sometime in the short period before you blackout and pray to reach out and touch the bright light shining in front of you, that you will look down and realize that a bubble has actually frozen as you waved the wand.  Well, ok, it won’t really be a bubble.  A little nub of a bubble will have frozen half emerged from the wand hole.  It will be small, and unimpressive.  However, if you are able to overcome the rigor that is overtaking your body, take this opportunity to indicate your victory in some way to the people in the window, attempt to gesticulate in a way that suggests that they should meet you at the door to see the miniscule frozen film you have produced.

Congratulations.  You have won.  Your children will be able to actually touch a frozen bubble, or a frozen half bubble, whatever.  Of course, as soon as it comes into contact with heated air and small fingers, the bubble will return to its liquid state within a millisecond.  But you will savor that look of vague interest in your children’s eyes for the rest of your life.

Note: this activity is best pursued if you have a spouse who can stay inside to call the paramedics in the case that you are able to make the arduous journey back to hearth and home, or who can appropriately care for your family afterward if you are yet another casualty to participation in this nifty home science trick.

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