19 May 2005

Creeping back to life

    I'm creeping back to life
    my nervous system all awry
    I'm wearing the inside out.
      Pink Floyd
Did I say that out loud? Apparently not. Haven't said much of anything. Yet again, it has been a case of blogus interuptus. Here's some of the stuff I wanted to blog about but didn't get to....

The albatross was indeed bad news for the crew of H.M.S Surprise. As for me, I did eventually get out of the traffic Jam (thanks Rob).

I managed to find another (traffic jam - not albatross) when someone knocked some wires across the PA Turnpike, stopping traffic in both directions. It did afford me the opportunity to listen to "In the Strawberry Fields," the second essay in Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market by Eric Schlosser (of Fast Food Nation fame). I've now finished listening and recommend it highly. I've already offered my rant on pot laws, but there's more to gnash your teeth over in the first essay, "Reefer Madness." The third essay is the story of the American porn industry, the people who brought it into being, and the politicians who tried in vain to enforce their views on morality. Check it out (Schlosser's book, not porn). (Hell, if you want some porn, go for it.)

Meanwhile, as Sharon told everyone, we're soakin' up the sun. It's gonna be awhile before I get tired of watching that meter run backwards.

Speaking of power, did you know that the energy dissipated in braking a 207-ton locomotive during the course of one year is enough to power 160 households for that year? That's why GE is working on a hybrid diesel locomotive. How cool is that? A key component of hybrids is regenerative braking, where the energy used in breaking is captured and stored, typically in batteries. It made me think, why aren't they using regenerative braking in commuter trains? They wouldn't even need the batteries; they could simply feed power back into the system for use by other trains. It turns out that the London Underground and Lyon Metro did just that. We need more of this.

I read that some subways use their motors to brake the train, but the electricity is not used. It is dissipated as head through radiators on the top of the car. What a waste.

Oh yeah, awhile back Jeri blogged about Jupiter. Well, I finally got off my ass and brought out the telescope. Jupiter was out, big and bright. I had to use a filter to dim down the brightness a bit so I could see the cloud bands. No red spot though.... The Galilean Moons, however, were bright and clear. Calisto was at the far end of its path (as we view it). BTW, that link has a cool animation that shows how the moons look from a terrestrial telescope.

Saturn was also out, rings and all. I could see Titan as well. Nearby in the sky was the quarter moon. When the moon is not full, it's a great time to view it. The shadow throws the surface features in stark relief and you can really see them.

So there ya go, that's what I can remember. Maybe I'll get some stuff up a little more often....

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