May 5th, 2009

food

Random Bay Area Notes

Note the First: Last week, all the weather sites were reporting that we'd get a single day of rain on Friday.

The rain started Thursday night. Since then, every weather site has been insisting that the rain will clear up "tomorrow". That one day of rain has almost turned into a week now.

It's not serious rain, or even significant rain -- just intermittent spitting and sprinkling, with only occasional, passing moments where it's worth your while to turn on the windshield wipers.

Its stubborn persistence is amusing, though.



Note the Second: Safeway has surprisingly good store brands.

Their pasta sauces are excellent (especially their Arrabiata sauce). Their frozen entrees are decent.

Their sodas, however, are good enough to warrant a journal entry. Almost any supermarket will slap their store label on adequate orange or black cherry soda. Safeway's "fruit" sodas are really quite good. Their Root Beer and Cream Soda (both sold as "Parker's") are excellent, the equal of most anything in a can.

They even manage a good store-brand cola.

I've never found a drinkable bargain-brand cola before. Cola is the hardest flavor to master -- hell, Coca-Cola hasn't managed to get it right since the mid-'80s -- but even my beloved quelonzia, a cola connoisseur, is replacing her RC addiction with Safeway's "Go2" Cherry Cola.

Of course, this discovery occurred as I was phasing sodas out of my diet again. One can a day isn't a lot, but it's more than I usually drink.

As with anything flavor-oriented, Your Mileage May Vary.


Warning: Chaotic System

Mad Science: The Vortex Engine, Revisited

A couple of years back, I made a few posts about Louis Michard's Atmospheric Vortex Engine, a plan to use the waste heat from nuclear power plants and other industrial heat sources to produce artificial tornadoes and harness them for energy.

(I'm sorry. That's just so over-the-top that I can't type it without italics.)

Today, I found an article on Inhabitat from about the same time period. It's the only one that points out the possible flaw in this system that pushes it into True Mad Science territory:

A 200-meter wide tornado might just have enough power to start absorbing heat from the surrounding area all by itself (something which would be a problem if one is hoping to keep it contained, as once the tornado achieves enough energy, there would be very little to stop it from escaping, so says Nilton Renno a professor at the department of atmospheric, ocean and spaces sciences at the University of Michigan).


And remember, the optimal place for an AVE is right next to a nuclear reactor.

Wheeeeeeee!

The hallmark of the best mad science is when making a disaster movie about it becomes redundant, because the whole thing plays out in everyone's mind as soon as they hear about it:

Dr. Renno: "You've got to stop this project! My calculations indicate that the vortex could become self-sustaining and break free of its confinement!"

Dr. Michard: "Nonsense! You're just one man flying in the face of progress! Increase the power!!"

(Indicator lights rise on the status board. Howling winds increase outside. The technicians spout technobabble. And then... red lights flash and klaxons sound.)