Sunday, November 19, 2006

Some More Travel Photos---New Mexico

I've never been to the "Great American Southwest," but I've been hoping to get to go there for work sometime soon. My deepest wish came true and I visited the Very Large Array in Socorro, NM in mid-October. You may know the VLA from such movies as Contact, Armageddon, and generally any movie where they show a bunch of big telescopes all turning simultaneously.

Here's some photos from that trip. I had a day off on the tail end of the trip, so I decided to drive around the state for 8 hours. I chose to go toward White Sands National Park / Missle Testing Range. I took a bunch of photos along the way.

Seeing New Mexico left me with the impression that there will be no shortage of available land for humans to populate within the next few centuries. There is so much open land it is nearly incomprehensible. It's also very neat, topologically; tall ranges of mountains are bounded by vast, flat plains and steep rolling hills. It actually looked a lot like Rohan from Lord of the Rings.

Anyway, here's your goddamn pictures.

The Very Large Array itself, pointing to the heavens.
Another angle of the Very Large Array.
A view skyward, from inside one of the dishes in the previous shots. Yes, I stood in the dish. The lack of a natural horizon made it feel like the clouds were stationary and I was whizzing through them.
En route to White Sands, the Town of Truth or Consequences has an interesting history. It was originally named "Hot Springs," but changed its name on a dare made by a 1950's radio show host. The name change has survived several public referendums.
The actual town of Truth or Consequences, viewed from a hill.
Still en route to White Sands; I took this shot white driving. Notice the road bends left. I did not notice that at the time. Driving and shooting is dangerous.
STILL on the way to White Sands. This is one of many endless, flat stretches of road that disappears into a point in the distance. I'd never seen that before. A really cool shot would've been through the power lines on the side, but the weather was uncooperative and I had to pee at this point pretty bad. This is the stretch of road between Las Cruces and Alamogordo.
The sky opened up for a combined total of probably 3 minutes during my entire time at White Sands. It was disappointing, because the whiteness of the sand didn't present itself as eery as it otherwise would, but when the sun did come out, it offered really a neat contrast between the sands and the blue sky peekign through above.

Half of the park was flooded, so I had to walk for two miles through a flooded desert roadway. When the sun popped out, it gave me a few chances to catch some cool reflections. This one looks like an alien planet, or some Buddhist vision of serenity.
Speaking of serenity, White Sands was the quietest place I've ever been in my life. Since the park was flooded, no one (except me) was willing to walk the two miles further up the road. The only noise I heard was the light breeze, and when that died down, and I stopped walking, the only thing I could hear at all was my own breathing. It was an outdoor sensory deprivation chamber. No wonder the aboriginal inhabitants found this land so spiritual.
A F117-A stealth fighter patrolling the area. National parks are known for their surface-to-air capabilities I guess.
I changed filters and out came some shots that looked straight out of an inspirational poster or the game Myst.
Same pic, camera rotated.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

#1 Ohio State - 42 vs. #2 Michigan - 39

We're proud of our Michigan boys. They played hard, they played well, and they were barely beaten. Arguments will be had about penalties, play-calling, etc., but it's been clearly shown that the rankings are exactly accurate. OSU is the best in the nation, and Michigan is, by 3 points, the second best. GO BLUE.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

How to Cut Global Paper Consumption in Half, Instantly.

The World Wildlife Fund, Sustainable Harvest International, Greenpeace, The Rainforest Alliance, Rainforest Action Network, Environmental Defense. Just several of probably hundreds of "conservationist," or pro-environmental protection lobby firms here in DC.

All of these organizations hope to deliver trees, one way or another from the axes of paper manufacturers. A noble ambition indeed. True, because on one hand, it's nice to have trees because they're pretty, and on the other, because there aren't enough trees to keep up with mankind's use of them. Also, deforestation contributes to carbon dioxide pollution, which might be bad.

Of course, none of these organizations' websites provide any useful information on how they would like to accomplish this noble ambition, and that's probably because in reality they use a combination of muckraking, sensational advertising campaigns, missionary-style recruitment schemes, and good old-fashioned lobbying.

Surely there must be an easier way to cut down on the world's demand for paper products? We're not going to all of the sudden switch from paperbacks to that Minority Report-esque e-paper, right?

Then our hopes be dashed. Or are they?

Meet the Hewlett-Packard 2420d Laser Printer. The "d" stands for "dargain," which is close to "bargain." Actually, the "d" stands for "duplex," and "duplex" means double-sided.
BAM! Double-sided printing. That's it. It's just that simple. I just saved like a hundred thousand square kilometers of rainforest.

But they must be restrictively expensive; nobody uses them. Not quite.

The HP 2420d Laser Printer is................$479.00
The HP 2420 Laser Printer is................. $459.00

A difference of $20. Twenty fucking dollars. I spent more at the bar on Monday night. MONDAY.
In fact, you can retrofit those old-fangled single-sided printers with an easy-to-install kit for around $150.

Well, maybe it's slow...

The HP2420d prints at 1,200dpi, 30ppm, with 48MB.
The HP2420 pritns at 1,200 dpi, 30ppm, with 32MB.

So unless I'm reading this wrong, the double-sided printer prints twice as fast, and the additional $20 goes to a bigger memory chip.

And there you have it. My analysis is admittedly cursory and half-baked, but you get the idea. DOulbe-sided printers. The wave of the future. Ride it.