Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Break: Getting Tubed at San Onofre

In my "youth" we used to make an annual pilgrimage to San Onofre State Park. We would drag my friend Pete's tent trailer down for a massive camping trip. For a whole week we would spend a microscopic amount of money, live on questionably small amounts of food (ramen, mac and cheese, that weird hot dog and mac combo) and consume large quantities of bad beer. The campground is just off of I-5, perched on a cliff above the Pacific. San Onofre is an unholy crossroads that features the following odd attractions:
  1. San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) which provides nearly 20 percent of the power to more than 15 million people in Southern California. Excuse the pre-pubescent humor, but it is also known as, "the big rack", "maternal power", and several other nastier metaphors. Nice design!

  2. Camp Pendleton Marine Core Base (and bombing range) - Just across I-5 is a huge tract of land used for military training and bombing runs. You can hear jets doing low flyovers and the distant sound of percussive bombing throughout the day.
  3. Killer Waves - I grew up in Oregon, and went to college in the Puget Sound area of Washington. Culturally we lived in the shadow of the iconic California surfer lifestyle. Although we had access to lots of beaches, the weather didn't support surfing. Spring break was a chance for 3 pasty white guys from rain-soaked Seattle to try their hand at riding the waves. Yea, we sucked at it and our boogie boards were cheap styrofoam department store junk, but there was nothing better than paddling like a mad man, feeling the lift of a wave, and riding it all the way to the shore!

    This slow motion video from the BBC reminded me of the awesome power and beauty of waves (I'm stunned by the little tornadoes that show up just behind the break). Pete and Matt, I will always cherish our annual pilgrimage to San Onofre... just remember to wait for the 7th wave, and never ever expect anything great to happen at the "Big Lute Shindig"!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Nerd Dream Come True - Pop Sci Free Archives

I consider myself a "Maker" (which is the hipster name for what use to be known as tinkerer, hobbyist, shop guy, etc). I just discovered that Popular Science has opened its archives on the Internet, and like a blast from the pre-2000 Internet past... it's completely free! Today is also the 131st birthday of Albert Einstein, so I think that it is quite appropriate to drool over cool science projects and technical wonders from the past. Click here to visit the Popular Science Archives.

The future seemed so palpable back then. Check out this cool hovercraft from 1965. Why don't we build anything cool looking like this anymore? I'm upset that we don't have hovercrafts and personal robots by now. Clearly all of those futuristic movies and books were wrong!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wahoo! March is a Winter Wonderland

Skiing with the kids and friends today. Nature rules!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Blood Falls" Creeps Me Out... Fascinating Biology

Taylor Glacier in Antarctica features a bizarre red waterfall originally discovered in 1911. Scientist initially thought this was simply algae blooms, but it turns out to be much cooler. A two million year old pandora's box of ancient life! A small pool of water trapped ancient microbes in a frozen state, and they survived without heat, light, or oxygen. This harsh environment shows that life can exist in the harshest conditions. The red color is nothing nefarious, just a rich level of iron in the water. Check out more at http://static.atlasobscura.com/place/blood-falls