Thursday, July 29, 2010

Peanuts and Cracker Jacks

So, my son went to a Twins game.

A friend of mine notified me that he had some spare tickets. I checked with my wife, and we decided she had more interest in seeing the new Target Field than I had (and the friend is a mutual friend); she went with our son.

Our friend brought his nephew, who is about one year younger than our son. The boys got along great, as all boys who meet doing something they both enjoy will.

Now, what you can't find by searching for the game stats (which are here) is the weather from that night. It was warm and sticky all day, and when the sun started to go down, you could just feel the thunderheads forming. I knew what time the game was at. I checked the radar, and I added in the average time a baseball game takes.

I sent them with ponchos.

After finding their seats, they discovered they had a great view of the backside of right-handed batters (meaning they had an excellent view of left-handed batters...of which the Twins have several). Hot dogs and brats were consumed, and they had a fine time at what turned out to be one of the fastest games this season (third fastest game of the MLB season, as of the date of the game, I've read).

They also stayed dry.

Sensing the weather was closing in, as soon as the last out was called, the adults were up and herding the boys to the car that our friend drove to the game (my wife hates driving downtown), to try to beat the storms. They ended up driving right into the teeth of it, but didn't see any of the tornadoes that were running around the cities that night. Upon arrival, the two boys compared Pokemon cards before my wife and son called it a night and headed for home. As I said before, boys who meet doing something they both enjoy will get along just fine.

What did my daughter and I do, you ask? We stayed dry too; we ate caramel puffcorn, and watched Disney movies involving princesses.

Until another time,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Watching Some Good Friends Screaming

I don't listen to as much talk radio as I used to.

This is a good thing, according to my wife; my blood pressure also thinks it's a good thing (I have less exposure to stupid people, who make me want to rant). However, I feel less informed about the world.

Maybe I have not mentioned that my car (whom I've named Bridget, just so you know) has Sirius Radio in it. Well, it does, and it came with a six month subscription. I really only listen to about ten stations, of which all but two are music (one is sports, the other is "golden era" radio re-broadcasts).

So, it took me a while to hear all these people whining that we can send a person to the moon, and we can make a phone call around the world, but we can't plug a leaking well?

I started a list of things that would compare and contrast these accomplishments. How many years of aerospace engineering went into putting a man on the moon? From Kennedy's promise to Armstrong's words, just over eight. How long did it take to lay the first Trans-Atlantic Cable? Eight years of failed attempts before one worked, and even that one failed within a year and had to be replaced. From Marconi first sending a wireless telegraph signal, to getting a wireless signal across the Atlantic: six years. These feats were over time spans not comparable to the blown well.

Regarding the well itself: it took them several months to drill it, what would make a person think it can be plugged in much shorter of a time frame? Additionally, it is over a mile underwater. This is not an insignificant distance, considering that it's through water, straight down. The pressure at that depth is something like a ton per square inch (depth divided by 33 feet [to get atmospheric pressure equivalency], then multiplied by 14.7 psi, the pressure at sea level). Yet, the oil just billowed out of it, indicating that the pressure on the oil was that much greater.

Now, since it's been capped, and they are monitoring the pressure of the oil on the cap, it's something like 3-4 tons per square inch. So, in just under three months, they managed to cap a blown-out well at one mile underwater, containing pressure of 6000 to 9000 psi.

Time span and difficulty aside, this is a human-caused disaster that is unprecedented. Should they have had a better disaster plan ahead of time? Yes. Should they have used better-quality material in the first place? Yes. Could this have been prevented? Ehh...that's harder to answer. A bubble of the size they estimate ruptured the well would have exerted something upwards of 50,000 psi....and that's a lot of pressure.

Until another time,