Sunday, June 29, 2008

BYBS: The Aquatic Species Program

According to the US Dept of Energy, it's possible to grow fuel like farmers grow rice.

From the late 70's to mid 90's, a study called "The Aquatic Species Program" was conducted to investigate and optimize growing fuels. The outcome was that you could use algae and ponds to grow all the fuel you need.

The basic problem with the approach was that, at the time, it was twice as expensive as buying oil. Now mind you, this was back in the mid 90's - ten plus years ago. As the report noted, the price of oil had been decreasing for the last 20 years. Now that we are in the first decade of 2000, with the economies of China and India heating up, it looks like the price for oil is going to be increasing for the foreseeable future.

The good news is that this will reduce, though not eliminate, the problem of global warming from greenhouse gasses. Furthermore, it can be hoped that some of the poorer countries of the world now have something that they can trade with the richer countries - biofuel. The kinds of "farms" that the DOE came up with are what amount to great big rice paddies.

What's more, these farms do not need pure or even fresh water. Indeed, one of the potential applications for this approach was water treatment, since at the time of the report, it did not look like the fuel aspect was going to pan out.

The various countries that have large oil resources from fossil fuels can be balanced by countries that have large agricultural spaces. If the oil countries cut production, the agricultural countries can increase production.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

BYBS: Borrowing the Will of the Ball

The 1990 movie "Awakenings," is about the experiences that Dr. Oliver Sacks has with people suffering from a rare type of catatonia. He discovers that they are able of responding to their environments in rather odd ways. For example, if he holds a tennis ball in front of their eyes and drops it, the catatonic patient will catch it before it hits the ground.

He describes this behavior as "borrowing the will of the ball."

In Alcoholics Anonymous, the members talk about a "Higher Power." They admit that they have no power over alcohol; how it is stronger then they are. They try and try, but are unable to avoid drinking; and when they do, they usually keep drinking until they pass out.

An alcoholic who manages to stay sober presents something of a mystery. Since the alcoholic admits that they do not have the willpower to stay sober, something else must be responsible. AA members refer to this as the person's "Higher Power." A Higher Power is often regarded as God or similar agency.

I thought about all this when I noticed that this week I had managed to stick to my gnome-inspired diet for the whole week. At the same time, I exercised every day. Most days for 60 minutes. 60 wonderful, joyous, happy minutes. As I will admit to anyone within earshot, I do not have the willpower to do this. But if I don't, then what is responsible?

In my habit of coining phrases for the mundane, I've decided to call this "borrowing the will of the ball;" thus paying homage back to Dr. Sacks. I have to admit that calling it a Higher Power sounds much cooler, but I'm afraid that AA members will beat me up if I do. Some of them are probably gnomez too.

My blessing for the week is the will… at least until I lose my fear of gnomez. Crafty little buggers…and they're always smiling.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

BYBS: Silly Achievement

Recently, I finally released a piece-of-crap application that I've been working on for a while. The name, what it does, etc. is not really important. What is important is that it involves gnomez…female gnomez…hehe, hehehe, hehehehehehe.

What am I saying?!!

I was trying to communicate that it's nice to have finally created a release. While it's not the world's greatest achievement or even that interesting an application, it is something that I've wanted to do for a while.

Furthermore, it provides an example of a milestone. Ever since I read the Blue Panther BYBS post on milestones, I've been unable to comment on his blog because I couldn't think of any milestone in my life that did not involve a sign like "abandon hope all ye who enter here."

Of course now that I've completed this Major Life Goal™ it means that I have no excuse for not cleaning up the basement. I guess you have to try and focus on the good aspects…

So break out the champagne! Jump up and down! Hug a gnome! Alright, the gnome is probably going too far, but it's still worth writing about :-)