I met a girl in Prague the other day, and we had dinner, a bottle of wine and really interesting conversation. The chemistry was good too, but it was just a night as I had to leave the next day. It’s been my experience that the chemistry analogy is quite effective (as analogies go) in representing the compatibility of two people. We all have our own unique properties, and can make a guess as to what they are, but since there is no real way to fully analyze our emotional makeup, there will always be a big unknown X factor.
We watch others around us mix, some mixing well, others separating after time, and still others exploding and burning violently. We can take the knowledge gained from witnessed experiments and our own experiments in life and hopefully avoid getting burned too bad, but we’ve got no clue, even if the math doesn’t seem right sometimes the result is quite surprising. With 6 billion+ (are we at 7 billion yet?) people out there (and thereby more then 3 billion possible chemical combinations depending on how you swing) there has to be hundreds of mixes that will lead to a positive result.
So I felt bittersweet saying goodbye to the girl in Prague, wondering if I was blindly walking past another match. But what about the girl who winked at me in the restaurant, or the one I bumped into on the metro? It certainly would be a lot easier if people just wore name tags identifying them as your soulmate. Thinking about this I made myself chuckle in the Prague National museum, walking around with a little hand held tour guide. Punch in a number and it will tell you about the exhibit you are looking at. Found myself thinking how much easier if the cute girls at the museum had numbers. “22: She’s currently available, but has bipolar mood swings that start to show up at 2 weeks, and kicks like a mule when she sleeps, move on to next exhibit.”
I’ve decided that as long as I enjoy every person I meet, regardless of whether or not the chemicals match, it’ll be just fine. It will be like looking for Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket; even if I don’t find the ticket at least there was a bar of chocolate inside
6 years. I can still clearly remember staying overnight at the Holiday Inn in Denver, waiting to get on a plane to be sent for in processing into the Navy. The only thing that makes the time real at all is the strange nature of the quality of the memory. While I can remember that my first “roommate” was a snorer, I can’t remember his name. I can close my eyes and remember the shape and color of the free breakfast coupon at the hotel. I had fruit, a cooked omlet and a little too much bacon. I could describe the people I sat and ate breakfast with. But they are so far away. 6 years and a few days earlier, I lay awake reminessing much as I found myself doing tonight, it had felt like I had just gotten into highschool, and now I was joining the Navy, signing six years away. I tossed and turned on the futon in my little apartment the same way I am tossing on the space foam queen mattress tonight. It seems whenever I’m on the precipice of a major change in my life I can’t sleep. I’m sure if I could find the posts from my old website there would be a rambling blog dated June 2002.
And despite how close I am to these memories and the me of 6 years ago, it seems like so much is between us now. I don’t even know if we could relate to eachother. Since then, I’ve fallen in love, bought my first condo, and a Hybrid. Experienced what it’s like to share a sink and a bed with someone, had dreams, made plans, got married, shared my heart and my life. Discovered the gut wrenching pain of unequal love, stood outside in the rain and stared up at the window of another mans bedroom and been too torn to cry at the sight of the hybrid parked in the driveway. I finally understood heartbreak, and found out how many months it takes to get over love lost. I’ve known the joy of putting on a wedding ring, and discovered the equality in pain of its removal. These extremes, leave me without a lexicon to properly describe the places and shades in between. I’ve seen the world, won piles of t-shirts for 5k and BBQ participation on one remotest islands in the Indian ocean, felt a strange mix of curiosity and remorse as I walked through the nuclear peace park in Okinawa, drank Ouzo in Greece, and VB in Australia. I’ve watched the taboo shows in Padaya Beach and held debates on whether or not the ability to sneak a frog, 2 gold fish and 3.52 cents in change through a full cavity search is a talent that a mother would be proud of. I still don’t know how to deal with first hand knowledge of a culture that sells the innocence of their young daughters. I’ve ridden horseback through the pineapple fields of Thailand, and learned that if you run out of bananas to give an elephant you should back away because they will continue to grope for banana shaped objects. I’ve jumped from waterfalls in Hawaii, and watched too many desert sunsets. I’ve learned how to put on a gas mask in 3 seconds flat, and that if someone calls attention on deck it’s normally the tall guy that appears to standup last and has to do the pushups. I’ve learned how to go back to sleep after they shoot rockets at your camp, but I still can’t tell the difference between their explosions and a door slamming. And I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you are in Bahrain, Qatar, Africa or Iraq, the Navy serves a damn good omlet. I have made so many friends, and a precious few for life. I’ve had 109 different roomates, 5 cell phones, 3 computers and 2 cats. I discovered that remodeling is only fun when you involve friends and family to suffer along with you, and that this statement applies to life. I’ve been the lead singer in a Rock Band, and I felt the savage pride of being propositioned by a groupie. I’ve found that college isn’t as hard as I hoped it would be, and some professors are real dicks. And while I was off and away, I wasn’t there for a lot of things. Too many Birthdays. My sisters graduations. My wife.
I think the biggest difference between the me of 6 years ago on that Futon in the me of now is that my hope and belief in myself has formed to knowledge. I’ve been tried. Those things that I hoped I could I have done. And it’s knowledge, confidence and a smile that I take with me as I walk on from this chapter of my life and believe that I’ll find success, hope that I’ll find love, and know that even my failures were just little successes in learning the wrong way to do something.
I like to think of myself as at least moderately informed on the current energy and oil problem going on in the world, the concept of peak oil and our current solutions to the coming problem. I’m a big supporter of moving off gasoline and onto alternative energy sources (although not biofuels, come on corn lobbyists there are people starving in Africa), because I believe that the energy sources exist and failure to move to these solutions quickly will result in bad things (read global warming). I’m convinced that moving off oil as quickly as “humanly” possible is critical, and that we shouldn’t be concerned about running out of gas, because we should turn off the key for the oil machine LONG before that happens. Then I saw this informative and err… entertaining video by youtuber oilycassandra. She quite articulately and intelligently makes the point that Oil is running out, and that our way of life will change drastically when it does:
Now, I LOVE that she has started a debate on this topic, because more then anything else, this sort of debate, and the resulting drive to disprove the theories of others while proving your own is where science derives its enthusiasm. And in the end, regardless of who is right, human kind ends up with all that research, one step closer to the truth, and hopefully with a solution to the problem at hand. So I’m digging in, and as lewd as it may sound “Oily Cassandra I take your challenge”. I’m going to troll a theory out there, and while it is certainly not flawless, I think it demonstrates that if an armchair scientist like myself can twiddle even an incomplete theory like this one, we can stop waving our arms about the end of the world because technology will prevail. I’m afraid I’ve got no good answer for plastics at the moment, imagining an oil free society is to imagine one without plastics (although bioplastics are a possibility, I mentioned earlier how I detest using our crops for anything other then feeding starving people, there are plenty of hungry mouths to send it to, enough to justify drinking out of aluminum cans and paying more for my recycled, or oil shale plastic products); the death of cheap plastic isn’t the death of the world, there are other alternatives they’re just more expensive.
Automobile Distribution Chain
Non carbon electric plants (Nuclear, Hydro-electric, geothermal, solar, wind) generate electricity.
Electricity sent both over existing power grid, and new power channels to existing gas fuel stations.
Electricity converted into Hydrogen and stored at Fuel stations.
Hydrogen pumped into hydrogen fuel cell hybrid cars (“Honda FCX”)
For my hypothesis I’m going to represent the difficulties in completely replacing all the oil consumption in the US with power from nuculear reactors alone, though these numbers could be helped along by solar, wind, etc.
87 Million barrels of oil used per day (“How much?”)
87 Million Barrels * 364 days = 31.668 billion barrels of oil used per year
1,700 kWh power per barrel of oil (“Bioenergy Conversion”)
31.668 billion barrels * 1,700 kWh per barrel = 53,800 billion kWh of fossil fuel power used annually
12.4 billion kWh average annual nuclear power plant production (“Energy Information Administration”)
Soo… the short story? 4,339 plants need to be built for us to continue consuming as much energy as we do. Sound like a lot? Well consider that number will be lower because the average per plant output I used was based off old nuclear technology, and we can use larger and more modern reactor techonology (For instance, China has already announced plans to build 30 reactors by 2025 and have added capacity for 300 Megawatts (4 times the amount currently used by fossil fuels) by 2050 (“Thousand reactors bloom”) using safer and more efficient helium cooled high temperature nuclear reactors. There are currently 616 (“EIA”) coal fired plants in the US, by converting those to high output nuclear plants (producing 1000 MW or more) we could solve our energy needs without coal. And nuclear power is safer and cleaner then coal power.
So everybody keeps on filling their tanks (but now it’s hydrogen instead of carbon based fuels), and nobody is the wiser. Except there is no more CO2 output from vehicles (Hydrogen fuel cell cars exhale only water) no more coal smog, and maybe we can avoid the real crisis looming… global warming. As an added bonus, if we move fast enough, we can use the saved oil to keep plastics around for a while
Even as I write this theory down, I see plenty more problems (the skeptic in me) but I’m hopeful that as long as we keep working toward a solution one will be found, and the rate of development will increase with economic pressure (Already Hybrid cars, Fuel Cell technology, etc, all now commercially viable thanks to increasing fossil fuel prices), and in the worst case the cost of living goes up and therefore the quality of life in first world countries goes down. Feel free to start sniping the above theory in the comment section below, lets come up with more problems and more answers, add some data and round out this plan.
We can’t build that many so fast: We just have to build them to keep up with oil declining, which means starting now, and replacing current carbon infrastructure (refineries, coal power plants) with upgraded nuclear, electric, and solar plants and upgrading existing power grids and gas stations for hydrogen distribution. As oil goes down our capacity for hydrogen power needs to go up.
Where do we get the billions annually required to pay for this: Leave Iraq (100+ billion dollars a year) it is a wasted effort to secure oil, and has only served to put pressure on OPEC resulting in less oil for the US and higher oil prices. And apply a net profit tax to the Oil companies that are getting rich off market situations (fixed supply high demand, mixed with fixed selling price thanks to market speculation) out of their control but certainly to their benefit (Collectively they made 120 billion dollars AFTER taxes last year FOR WHAT??) Despite their promises to turn this money into research reason tells us that alternative power IS NOT in their best interests.
How does it happen: WE get the word out to help motivate scientists who are tirelessly working RIGHT NOW on getting specific solutions to these problems, and more importantly rocking the vote for politicians who want change, and e-mailing their representatives to help bring about the HUGE political change (tax law, zoning and nuclear certification law, incentive programs to convert fossil fuel architecture into hydrogen or sustainable solutions) so get to e-mailing. I did.
Where do we get the Uranium? Why by disarming, we have WAY more nukes then needed and you can turn them into reactors.
“Bioenergy Conversion Factors.” Bioenergy.Gov. 17 June 2008 <http://bioenergy.ornl.gov/papers/misc/energy_conv.html>.
“Biofuels for Transportation.” Geonomics Government Site. 17 June 2008 <http://genomicsgtl.energy.gov/biofuels/transportation.shtml>.
“Energy Information Administration.” Department of Energy. 17 June 2008 <http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/ask/electricity_faqs.asp>.
“Honda FCX Demo Video.” Cars.Com. 17 June 2008 <http://xrl.us/cmk76>.
“How Much?” Star Telegram. 17 June 2008 <http://www.star-telegram.com/245/story/680746.html>.
I just got another one of those stupid, “Forward this and Bill Gates will give you 240 dollars” e-mails. And I was sent in the to: field with 300 other poor saps. Here is my response:
So there was an e-mail floating around, that said something along the lines of:
PLEEEEEEASE READ!!!! it was on the news! Bill Gates is going to give you money for no obvious reason!!!
Now, when one hears a claim like this one, they should be skeptical. And in this particular case, they would be right to be. From the snopes.com webpage in regards to this EXACT e-mail:
This isn’t real, it wasn’t written up in USA Today (other than in articles about Internet hoaxes), Microsoft and AOL aren’t running a tracked “e-mail beta test” with Bill Gates paying people for participating, and Intel and AOL aren’t merging. The bottom lines is that no matter which incarnation of this silliness one receives, the principle is the same: there’s still no free lunch, and big companies aren’t going to hand out fabulous vacations, $1000 bills, free trendy clothes, new computers, cases of candies, wads of cash, or new cars just because someone with a functioning Internet connection does them the favor of forwarding an e-mail. Though at first blush, participating in such pie-in-the-sky wishfulness appears perfectly harmless, such participation only serves to clog up already overtaxed resources. Oh yes, it does one other thing: it gives the idjits who cooked up these frauds a great big laugh at your expense.
Now in addition to that, it gives EVERYONE who gets the e-mail the addresses of every person you sent it to. Because most of you will forward it along without cleaning up the headers, deleting other peoples e-mails or using the BCC option when you send an e-mail (like I did for this e-mail). Because I’m tired of spammers getting my e-mail in this fashion, I’m sending this e-mail to everyone that I found listed in the e-mail that was sent to me (A total of 303 e-mail addresses!!!). And while it probably won’t stop all the folks from forwarding that e-mail (with my address) to all of their friends as well, at least I can hope that maybe it will stop a few, and I’ll have a few thousand less SPAM e-mails to go through every day.
So I make my plea to you, the conscious internet user:
Don’t forward crap that you haven’t checked out. Spend a LITTLE time researching something before sending it to hundreds of your friends and forcing them to spend THEIR time reading it. I recommend snopes.com (or any other debunking site), just post a few key words into the search box and 99% of the time it will take you straight to the truth of the e-mail.
If you absolutely have to send it, take a little time to clean it up! Delete the Previous CC:’s FORWARDS etc. remove other peoples e-mail addresses and make it so that we don’t have to scroll for 15 minutes before we get to the content you are trying to share.
FINALLY when you do send it, put the e-mail addresses of the people you want to send to in the BCC that’s BCC not CC, section of the e-mail, that way everyone who receives it is blind to who else got it.
And if you like, follow those rules, and forward this to your friends. But if I get this e-mail back to me and it has my e-mail in a CC: block, I will hunt you down and beat you senseless with my laptop.