Found Coolness: A Trip Down The Chernobyl Rabbit Hole

Enticed in by promises of HD first time drone footage of Pripyat, the infamous ghost city formerly inhabited by Chernobyl workers and their families I first watched this video.

Which then led me to an article on CBS News 60 Minutes, "Chernobyl: The Catastrophe That Never Ended"

Which then took led me to search Google for "Chernobyl's Elephant's Foot," where I found a link to an article on some blog called Nautilus which had and article entitled "Chernobyl's Hot Mess, "The Elephant's Foot" Is Still Lethal."  Which had some pretty interesting information about how deadly Chernobyl's core actually still is.

Picture Source: US Department of Energy

Which then led me to a 9 minute video on The Guardian entitled "Novarka: Encasing the unsafe Chernobyl reactor in a huge new arch" which appears to be generated by the "Novarka Consortium," to illustrate the job they are performing to build a new permanent containment facility next to the Chernobyl plant and then push it over the entire plant and seal the reactor inside.  It is quite impressive task though as the previous article points out it is underfunded and behind schedule but you can clearly see the structure in the drone footage in the first video.

I was finally able to find my way out but for some reason I could get lost for hours reading and watching about this disaster.

Music: Why All Music Sounds The Same

This video I found on PBS News Hour's YouTube Channel started out as an interesting tech piece and then about halfway through turned into a depressing harbinger of what the future of music has in store for us:

Judy Woodruff: Another effect of the digital revolution is that an industry once based on turnover has now become more focused on the familiar.

Derek Thompson: And it's also made the quality of music, the chord progressions inside of music more derivative, and so the side-effect of big data in the music industry has been; I think to make the product more repetitious.

...as well as a commentary on the general populace and their lack of desire to branch out.  I weep for the future:

JW: So how do you explain that, that people want to hear what they already know rather than having any desire to explore something different?

DT: The evolutionary psychologist explanation for this is, "If I recognize it. It hasn't killed me yet."  The vast majority of people what they want, from pop culture is comfort food, they want to be relaxed, they want to turn off their brains.

Read Derek Thompson's entire article "The Shazam Effect" on The Atlantic's website.

Current Events: Don't Shop At Walmart Today...

...or any day for that matter.


Current Events: Things I Am Thankful For

-Anne and her success as a Mother and a Suzuki Violin Instructor

-Grace and her health and ability to make me smile every time I look at her

-My Friends, even though we're far apart I think of them and laugh often

-My Family who teach me more about myself each in their own way

-Anne's Family (which I also consider to be my family) who welcomed me into their lives with open arms.

-Saylor who now that Anne is busy with Grace is finding me not such a bad option 

-My job that I walk away from each day feeling that I've had an impact on people's lives.

-The adventure our move to California has turned out to be!

Found Coolness: Lego Antikythera Mechanism

I had read about the Antikythera Mechanism in the past so when the New York Times published an article "On the Trail of an Ancient Mystery Solving the Riddles of an Early Astronomical Calculator" about the mechanism it grabbed my interest.  Which then led me to the above video of a actual working Lego version of the Antikythera Mechanism which is insanely cool!

If you want to know more about the Antikythera Mechanism watch the video below:

System Ops: Unceremonious Thanksgiving Dinner

When your job requires 24/7/365 staffing someone inevitably gets stuck away from their family, hidden away in a control center.  It may not look very pretty but an effort to replicate the meal you're missing does soften the sting a bit.

Don't worry while it is untouched at this point the dessert will not be long for this world.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Funny: Italian Parking Fiasco

I found this on Jalopnik and at first I watched it without sound because grace was sleeping in the bassinet nearby and it was hilarious!  Watching it again now there are some comments in the Jalopnik post for more info about the origin of the video if you're interested.


Music: Nick Drake

I remember hearing my first Nick Drake song on the Garden State Soundtrack and then being really sad that he had been dead for years and years.  I think a lot of people felt that way.

I read a nice little article in The Atlantic: How the Internet (and Volkswagen) Made a Dead Folksinger Into a Star and I thought it would be a good opportunity to share the article and Nick's music... Enjoy.


Artsy Fartsy: Smiley #10

Random: Trader Joe's Organic Ground Beef Patties from Australia & Uruguay?!?

So I wanted to grill some hamburgers today so I went to the Trader Joe's here in Davis, and grabbed what I thought was the second healthiest option available.  I know 92% lean is better for you but of you are grilling the extra fat sure adds some good flavor.  On the front of the package it says, "no added antibiotics, no added hormones, 100% grass fed." all of these things made me feel warm and fuzzy when I went up to the counter to make my purchase...

It wasn't until I got home when I flipped over the package to see that the ground beef I bought was not only not locally grown but that it was potentially not even from the USA!  I understand that in order to have the best prices, you can't expect local grass fed beef at a large supermarket chain like Trader Joe's.  But really!?! They can't somehow get the. "no added antibiotics, no added hormones, 100% grass fed" beef in the all within the USA?  I find that hard to believe.

So the questions:

  1. Is it better to get "no added antibiotics, no added hormones, 100% grass fed" beef potentially from other countries than large industrial farmed beef?
  2. What kind of oversight is there in Australia and Uruguay to guarantee any of the promises on the front of the package?
  3. How is it possible that shipping foreign beef from the other side of the globe is cheaper than getting it here in the USA?
Things don't add up...


Juan-stagram: Unripe Persimmon...

 ...will make your face collapse in on itself like a dying star.

Funny: Seth Rogen and James Franco Get Naked And Afraid

When I moved into our apartment in Vacaville and had no furniture, I ended up binge watching a season of Naked and Afraid on my iPad after the internet was hooked up.  Aside from this being another hilarious pairing of Rogen & Franco (think Bound 2 parody) it kind of makes me want to catch up on the actual show. Well played marketers... well played...


Car-ifornia: Gymkhana 7

A little late to the party on this one, I think it's been out for a week already but hey... it's a car (a custom built 1965 Ford Mustang with 845 horsepower and AWD) and it's in California (Los Angeles).  Hence, here it is in Car-ifornia.


Car-ifornia: Top 10 Forgotten Sport Compacts

For some reason I am a sucker for the cars that skew to the obscure end of the spectrum.  This article from Car Throttle: Top 10 Forgotten Sport Compacts contains a list of cars that I am going to do my best to locate and take photos of here in Car-ifronia.  If they are anywhere they will be here.  Stay tuned... or... well... this search may take years.  Some of these cars are pretty rare.


Music: The Theme Song From Last Week Tonight Is A Real Song!

I was watching the season finale of John Oliver's Last Week Tonight yesterday and as they played out the end credits I realized that there were lyrics to the song!  A quick internet search turned up that the song "Go" is by a band called "Valley Lodge" and is on the album "Use Your Weapons."  I always thought the song was catchy and in it's entirety it lives up to my partial assessment.  Check out the fun music video above to see for yourself.


Music: Shady CXVPHER

A lot is being made of Eminem using Lana Del Rey in a freestyle but all in all I think the whole video is lyrically pretty impressive.  I thought the rapper who led the whole thing off, Kxing Crooked was really good.  I'll have to keep an eye out for more of his work.


Hashtag Manliness: Fix Yo' Flat!!!

Neighbor came over to tell me about this...

I had been riding the moto to work anyhow so no big deal.  After my last night shift it made a good "keep Juan occupied and awake," project.

Step 1 pull the tire off the car, re-inflate the tire and use soapy water to find the leak.

Step 2 identify if the source of the puncture is still in there (looks like something is in there)

Step 3 remove the offending object, in my case it looks like a piece of a razor blade.  I'd be thinking sabateur at this point but on the last drive I had just pulled off the road to take the photos in my last System Ops post and that is likely when I picked it up.

Step 4 use the reamer (comes in the tire repair kit) to dress (rough up) the puncture so that the plug has something to grip.

After you have "dressed" the area to be plugged, insert one of the plugs into the needle so that the needle is in the middle of the plug.  Apply rubber cement to the plug.  Press the needle into the "dressed" hole.  It might take some work to get past the steel belts until 2/3 of the plug is in the tire.

Pull the needle straight out and the plug should remain.  Use a razor to cut the excess plug flush with the tire and you're done!


Moto: Japanese Manufacturers Starting An All-out Brawl?

They're doing it again... the time has come for the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers to once again take off the gloves and taking a few swings at the high dollar high spec, can we say homologation specials that are coming out of Europe.  2014 will be a year that we all talk of in hushed tones about these machines of mythical presence, astronomical costs, and infinite desire.  Bikes like this haven't been seen since the late 80's early 90's and it is a welcome return!  The one oddball out of the mix is Kawasaki.  Where Honda and Yamaha are turning out spiritual successors to their RC45 and OW-01 respectively (pictured after the first three photos).  Kawasaki has brought a bazooka to a gun fight with the Ninja H2, there is literally nothing else like it on the planet.  When you compare it to their ZX7R (also pictured belos) of the past, admittedly the less sought after of the three older bikes you can tell that they threw out the rule book when they made this bike.  So take it in people this is most definitely a new era for the Japanese motorcycle industry and they have put the European manufacturers on notice.  Looks like it's going to be a bi-lingual bloodbath.


System Ops: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

I drive past this transmission corridor whenever go to and from work.  There are four 230KV lines and one 500KV line in close proximity of each other.  It looks like the land owner has cut down whatever trees that were growing in the orchard and is getting ready to burn them.  The last times a landowner did an ag-burn under a 500KV line this happened.

Appropriate notifications have been made.