Subzero Temperatures Are Fun

You have two options when living in the Upper Midwest: become friend with winter or at least come to terms with it. I fall into the latter category. Winter is my favorite season. Perhaps by necessity I have developed a fascination with cold weather and the effects it has on everyday thing.

Consider the electronics we take for granted every day. Do you know what the lowest temperature at which your mobile phone or laptop will function? Such information often doesn’t make it into consumer product specifications. I did some digging and it seems most laptops are designed to function in temperatures as low as 50 °F. That’s adequate for environments where the climate is usually controlled such as a home or office. It’s not adequate for the -30 °F temperature to which I work up yesterday morning.

This topic becomes much more interesting on a large scale. Take Texas for example. The state is experiencing a typical Upper Midwestern winter right now. That’s a problem because a typical Upper Midwestern winter there extremely rare so nothing is designed with such conditions in mind. Many people in the state are experiencing blackouts. A lot of people, myself included, have asked why the power grid was so severely impacted by this weather since the same power generation technology is used in environments that get just as cold. Why would a wind turbine in Texas freeze when one in Minnesota that regularly experiences even colder temperatures doesn’t? There are many possibilities. The first that comes to mind is lubricant. It’s quite possible that the lubricants being using in wind turbines in Texas turn into a gel at subzero temperatures. Since Texas so seldomly experiencing subzero temperatures nobody likely stopped to consider the possibility.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) event notification report for today notes that a nuclear reactor in Texas was taken offline because two of its feedwater pumps failed. Could cold weather interfere with a feedwater pump? Quite possibly. Depending on the design of the pump, the source of the water, and other factors it’s quite feasibly that a feedwater pump could fail if the water source or intake froze. Water freezing inside of a pump is even feasible (although flowing water doesn’t freeze as easily as standing water).

Backup diesel generators could also be troublesome in Texas at the moment. There are two types of diesel. #1 diesel tends to work better at lower temperatures whereas #2 diesel tends to work better at higher temperatures. Because #2 diesel tends to turn into gel at cold temperatures, here in the Upper Midwest during winter months we mix #1 and #2 diesel or include additives in our diesel to prevent it from gelling up. I’m guessing the same isn’t done in Texas since there normally isn’t a need. That means backup diesel generators, which are needed now because mains power is unreliable, could also be unavailable.

I wish I had more to offer than observations that I find interesting, but truth be told there likely isn’t anything anybody can do for Texas until the temperature goes up. The fixes necessary to make a state like Texas capable of weathering (pun intentional) these conditions require redesigning almost everything, which is likely too tall of a task for anybody to undertake and too costly for how rare these conditions do occur.

Moving Up in the World

If anybody is still checking this feed, I want to let you know that I finally escaped the Twin Cities region. The misses and I bought a house on a few acres of land out in the country. While I wouldn’t necessarily advise buying a house at the moment (with the way things are going you’ll probably get some stellar deals in a few months if you’re willing to buy during a time of major economic uncertainty), the housing and land prices out in the country aren’t nearly as insane as they are in the metro area.

The only downside is that my Internet is much slower. Since this site is still hosting on a server in my home, the site’s performance will probably be terrible, but I’m not making any money off of this site so I don’t really care. With that said, that single trade-off is well worth all of the benefits (especially if shit keeps going downhill, I don’t really want to deal with civil unrest in a major metropolitan area).

Now that my biggest project is crossed off of the list, I hope to get back to writing more frequently.

Dream Job

Yesterday news broke that “Mean” Gene Okerlund died. Okerlund had one of my dream jobs. In the absurdity that is professional wrestling he played the straight man. If a coked out man in a flamboyant costume said something batshit insane he wouldn’t bat and eye and would continue his interview as if he were interviewing the CEO of a company. I’d say he managed to do what many people don’t, he lived an interesting and entertaining life.

Happy Thanksgiving

For those of us living in the United States, today is Thanksgiving. It’s supposed to be a holiday where reflect what we’re thankful for. So in the spirit of the holiday I will note that I’m thankful for the fact that scientists have made the single most important discovery in human history:

Scientists say they have uncovered how and why wombats produce cube-shaped poo – the only known species to do so.

The fact that people were paid to research this just proves that I’m in the wrong line of work.

A More Entertaining Show

A bunch of conservatives threw a tantrum because Nike chose an individual who failed to stand during prayers to skycloth as its mascot. While a bunch of triggered snowflakes cutting up their socks and burning their shoes is mildly entertaining, this has the potential to be extremely entertaining:

Ford, (F)a sponsor of the National Football League, has voiced support for NFL players exercising their right to free speech and peaceful protest after President Donald Trump urged fans to consider a boycott.

“We respect individuals’ rights to express their views, even if they are not ones we share,” the company said on Monday. “That’s part of what makes America great.”

Queue a bunch of triggered conservatives burning their Ford F-150s.

Yeah, I know it won’t happen. Virtue signalling only goes so far. Some people may be willing to cut up a $10 pair of socks or even burn an old pair of shoes to demonstrate their virtuousness, but few are willing to destroy a vehicle worth tens of thousands of dollars to show the world how much they love the skycloth.

Impotent Rage

Nike announced its new mascot, Colin Kaepernick. Since Kaepernick made a name for himself by failing to stand during prayers to skycloth, a lot of conservatives are upset with Nike and have chosen to make Nike feel their impotent rage:

Following the announcement, the hashtags #BoycottNike and #JustBurnIt started trending on Twitter and shares started falling. Some angry consumers even posted photos and videos of themselves burning their Nike shoes and other gear to protest the company using the divisive figure in its 30th anniversary ad campaign.

I ask you this, is there a more useless way to protest a company than destroying your own property? I can’t think of one. If you purchase a pair of Nike shoes and later burned them, it doesn’t hurt Nike one bit, the company already has your money.

With that said, I am glad that Nike chose Kaepernick as its mascot, not because I feel that a backup quarterback best represents the company but because the memes that have sprung forth have been solid gold! This one is my favorite so far:

Fighting the Important Battles

When an organization is named People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) you might make the mistaken of assuming that it is an organization that focuses on fighting animals abusers, not how fictional animals are portrayed on a bag of snacks:

(AP) — After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of animal crackers are roaming free.

Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco, has redesigned the packaging of its Barnum’s Animals crackers in response to pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA, which has been protesting the use of animals in circuses for more than 30 years, wrote a letter to Mondelez in the spring of 2016 calling for a redesign.

Far be it for me to tell others what battle are or aren’t important but the fictional conditions of fictional animals that represent what you’re about to bite the head off of (because all normal people start by biting the head off of animal crackers) seems pretty insignificant to me.

You Can Just Say Any Old Shit These Days

One of the “wonders” of the modern United States is that you can just say any old shit and get away with it:

Bonafide patriot woman and “Fox & Friends” middle-seat host Ainsley Earhardt made an oopsie during a Thursday morning rallying cry for America when she made reference to the never-existent “communist Japan.”

[…]

“You know, we defeated communist Japan, radical Islamists. We ask our men and women to go overseas to fight for our country and sacrifice so much for our country so we can be the land of the free, the land of the brave,” the host said.

This is an example of a very prevalent phenomenon here in the United States, and from what I’ve seen the rest of the world, where people feel free to talk authoritatively about shit they know nothing about.

I’m currently reading a book on the history of Japan from the Meiji Restoration to modern times. I just got to the beginning of World War II. Although I was vaguely familiar with this aspect of Japanese history, after reading the chapters dealing with the 1920s through the 1930s I now understand just how anti-communist the Japanese government was at that time (and that attitude didn’t stop in the 1940s). This doesn’t surprise me since the Japanese government at the time was strongly focused on the emperor and communists hate emperors (the name specifically, they prefer the term chairman or premier).

Now that I’ve read that part of the book and have familiarity with the topic, I won’t shy away from talking about it. However, before that I would have shied away from talking about the Japanese government at that time because I wasn’t very familiar with it and I try to avoid talking authoritatively about things that I’m not familiar with. I also feel that I’m in the minority when it comes to that.

It’s Tough Having a Conduct Policy in the Music Industry

Spotify announced that it was going to implement a conduct policy, which would punish musicians who behaved poorly. Spotify is now backing away from that decision:

That didn’t take long. After Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said it was working with civil rights groups and folks within the music industry to retool its “bad behavior” framework this week, the streaming service has scrapped it wholesale. “While we believe our intentions were good, the language was too vague, we created confusion and concern, and didn’t spend enough time getting input from our own team and key partners before sharing new guidelines,” a statement from the company reads.

When your business model is build on selling products produced by a group of individuals who have a higher than average tendency to act outlandishly in public, having a content policy is bad for business. Your customers aren’t going to be happy with your service when you remove their favorite artist’s discography after they were involved in a hookers and blow party that ended in a hotel burning to the ground.