Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Wintertime Weekend Route

When the weather is nice I like to do a 9-10 mile run (on weekends and other days off) which has a lot of trails in it. In the winter the trails are full of snow plus I don't like to run as hard in the cold, so here is an alternate route--all roads.

Yes, I have done a bit of cross country skiing. The problem is that I have to drive to the trail, put on my skis etc. It is fun, but ends up taking a lot longer to get a decent workout.

Deployment of the Bed

Now witness the power of this fully functional sleep system!

I hope my readers will forgive a bit of triumphalism: This bed is the last of several projects planned at the time I purchased a stack of black cherry lumber around 4 years ago.

I still have a small bit of wood left and can, at my leisure, throw together a couple of minor pieces--no rush though.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Climate and Geology

When it comes to climate change, the chief worry seems to be a rise in sea-level. Antarctica contains enough ice to raise the oceans by around 200 ft. This got me thinking about how dependant our climate is upon accidents like having a large landmass located at the South Pole.

Here was a thought experiment: What would it be like on Earth if Antarctica was not there? Well, there would be no place for the thousands of feet thick ice sheet which covers most of that continent. The oceans would be 200 feet deeper and lots of land would be under water. I would guess (and this is totally a guess) that say 10% of all land would be lost. So the Earth would be 27% land instead of 30%. What is the big deal? I mean, if it was always like that, then there wouldn't be any problem. As it is, there would be much dislocation since there are lots of people and infrastructure located 200 feet or less from sea level.

Further thought and research on the topic made me refine my thought experiment: Why should I suppose that Antarctica just goes away? Why not move it somewhere warm? Then the ice will melt and we can look at the results. There may be a lot of places it could fit, but why not play it safe and just plop it down in the middle of the Pacific starting just South of Hawaii. The ice will melt, oceans rise etc. Antarctica though comprises about one tenth of Earth's land area! Even if we suppose that one tenth of it will be flooded, the net loss for the Earth as a whole would end up having only 1% of the total land lost instead of 10%. The assumption is that land which is under ten thousand feet of ice is just as useless as land which is 200 feet under water.

So, what was the point of all this 'thought experimentation'?

--It is often an useful excercise to think about the consequences of a change.

--My original thinking was that a rearangement of the placement of land on Earth is critical to the climate we enjoy. Now, I am not too sure. Maybe if the Earth warms up a lot it will cause the seas to rise, but won't it also make fairly marginal land in the arctic more habitable?

--On further reflection, I never posited climate change into my experiment: We see deeper oceans and slightly less land all from a rearrangement of the land masses.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How about a little politics?

I am a Republican, but if a was a Democrat I would be voting for Obama in the primary race.

--I would not care if African Americans were all voting for him just because he belongs to their ethnic group. Or be inclined his way on the news that many women are voting Clinton just because she is a woman!

--I would vote for him because he is more electable than Clinton:

There are big chunks of the Republican electorate that have issues with each of the candidates, but all are united in dislike for Hillary and from what I can tell, pretty much all like Obama as a person. They might stay home on election day if Obama is nominated, but they will come out, grit their teeth and vote for a Republican they detest if Clinton is on the ballot.