Tuesday, September 22, 2009

There's still hdpe... or Time Traveling Trash

No, not a typo. HDPE is a common plastic.
A few weeks back, it occurred to me that what Mexico really needs are cars that run on white plastic bags, since the entire landscape of many of Mexico's roads are littered with them. If you live and/or drive in Mexico you know exactly what I mean. It's unsightly and sad. You will see drivers in front of you casually toss trash out the windows. Kids see the parents do it and litter and littering travels through time this way.

But there is hope. I recently caught wind of a company that makes conversion plants for plastics. One ton of waste plastic can be converted into "approximately four 42-gallon barrels of high quality, synthetic light to medium oil. That oil in turn could be used to produce gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and kerosene."

More information is here

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Latest Recording... Black Orpheus

The theme song from the movie of the same name, performed by the 1st Mate, myself and our good friend, Daniel. Listen to it at the 1st Mate's Blog here (I promised her she could post the next song we record). As usual, Bliss does vocals, I play electric guitar and the keyboards and do the mix. This time Daniel sat in to add his muy rico acoustic guitar work.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hurricanes I've known and loved

Hurricane Jimena. Beauty and power.

(Sept 6) Since I wrote the stuff below, Jimena stretched across the Sea of Cortez to slap us around a little bit, kinda' like a strict aunt at dinner, correcting bad table manners.

You can read more about Jimena at the 1st Mate's blog, while I reminisce.

(Sept 3) I'm stretched out in bed writing this on my laptop. Casual, you say?
Right now Tropical Storm Jimena is raging outside, filling the landscape with seascape, knocking out power (ours has been out since last night). The dogs refuse to go out do their thing this morning because it sounds like freight train out there.

We're on the internet now because I have a 2000 watt inverter connected to the VW van parked in the carport with the engine running.

I've been in a few hurricanes, starting with Arlene in late July 1963.

Arlene's track in 1963

Hurricane Arlene

I was on a 200 ft flat-bottomed troop transport ship in 50 ft seas. Of the 100 people on board, only 8 of us didn't get seasick (maybe I should have joined the Navy instead of the Marines). We were in that storm for 3 days and nights.

Wikipedia: A cloud mass in the central Atlantic became a tropical depression on July 31. It headed to the west, becoming a tropical storm on August 2. Arlene rapidly intensified that day to become a 100 mph Category 2 hurricane, but lack of outflow weakened Arlene to a tropical depression on the 4th. For the next three days, a disturbed area of low pressure that may have had a circulation moved to the northwest. On the 8th, while turning northeastward, conditions favored development again, and Arlene rapidly intensified to a hurricane that night. Arlene passed over Bermuda on the 9th, and, after reaching its peak of 100 mph again that night, steadily weakened until it became extratropical on the 11th. Arlene caused $300,000 in property damage in Bermuda, but no lives were lost.

Then came Flora...

Hurricane Flora

Flora struck the southwest peninsula of Haiti on October 4 as a 140 mph hurricane, causing heavy rains. Flora then hit southeast Cuba near Guantanamo Bay on the same day, but a high pressure system to its north and west caused it to drift over Cuba and nearby waters. During this time, intense driving rains caused catastrophic flooding, resulting in thousands of deaths and millions in crop damage. A shortwave trough finally pulled Flora to the northeast, bringing the hurricane into the Atlantic Ocean on the 8th. Flora strengthened over the open Atlantic, but posed a threat only to shipping, and became extratropical on the 12th.Hurricane Flora originated from a tropical depression which formed on September 26 in the Central Atlantic. The depression moved rapidly west-northwestward, and on the 29th it reached tropical storm status. It then rapidly intensified into a 120 mph Category 3 hurricane by the 30th. Flora moved through the Leeward Islands, first striking the island of Tobago, and passing near Grenada shortly afterwards. Flora then crossed the Caribbean Sea and strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane, peaking at 140 mph winds.

Hurricane Flora was the 5th or 6th deadliest Atlantic hurricane of all time, causing over 7,000 deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, mostly due to flooding from intense rains as it stalled over Cuba and the surrounding areas. Damage estimates (mostly crop losses) reached over $500 million.

Enlargement of Flora's Track over Cuba

I spent all of that storm alone in an underground bunker- the nerve center for a 155mm howitzer battery in Guantanamo. I was there for a week, and by the time Flora was done, I had three feet of water in the bunker with me. Water and C-rations was all I had to eat and drink.

In 1964, I was stationed on Okinawa before heading to Danang. That's where I spent some time with:

Wilda's track in 1964

Actually, the 13 months I was in Vietnam and the Far East, we had dozens of typhoons. So, I've lost count. Wikipedia states,

"The 1964 Pacific typhoon season was the most active season in recorded history with 39 storms.."

Super Typhoon Wilda.

Super Typhoon Wilda, having started on September 19 and reaching a peak of 175 mph (282 km/h) on the 21st, steadily weakened after its peak. It turned northward and northeastward, and made landfall on southern Japan on the 24th as a 115 mph (185 km/h) typhoon, and became extratropical the next day. Wilda left 42 dead or missing from its heavy flooding.

Nobody was talking about global warming then...

The last hurricane that sticks in my memory is Carlotta, because I was solo sailing in Cortez when it caught me 20 miles offshore of Bahia Conception. After 13 hours of dodging shoals, reefs and islands, I blasted into Santa Rosalia on a breaking wave, nearly decapitating a fisherman who parked his panga at the mouth of the manmade harbor there. (No I didn't hit him or his boat, but it was really close).

Hurricane Carlotta was the most powerful hurricane of the 2000 Pacific hurricane season. The third tropical cyclone of the season, Carlotta developed from a tropical wave on June 18 about 270 miles (470 km) southeast off the coast of Mexico. With favorable conditions for development, it strengthened steadily at first, followed by a period of rapid deepening to peak winds of 155 mph (250 km/h) on June 22. Cooler waters caused Carlotta to gradually weaken, and on June 25 it degenerated into a remnant area of low pressure while located about 260 miles (420 km) west-southwest of Cabo San Lucas.

The hurricane produced heavy rainfall and rough surf along the southwest coast of Mexico, though no serious damage was reported. A Lithuanian freighter traversing through the peak of the hurricane was lost after experiencing an engine failure; its crew of 18 was presumed killed.

Carlotta track in June 2000

Carlotta contributed a lot of southerly wave action to the Sea of Cortez by taking huge storm tossed seas from the Pacific and, by virtue of her counterclock rotation, spinning them up into the Cortez as I solo sailed across.

My sense of things are this: I would rather be ashore than at sea in a hurricane, but when it's time to clean up afterwards? Well, I'd rather be at sea.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the references and photos.