Sunday, July 26, 2015

Instant (?) Pain Relief

I get cold sores.  Usually when I am out in the sun or wind for a while.  Like when I go on a motorcycle trip.  Stress doesn't help. What often helps is Lysine.  Natural supplement that I start slapping on the second I feel a hot spot on my mouth.

This time, nothing helped.  I have had this one for almost seven days.  It starts to heal when I am not riding and then the wind and sun stop it from healing the next day.  I rode the last two days with a bandanna tied over my mouth and it didn't hurt as much while I was riding, but it didn't heal either.

So today I went to the pharmacy and bought Campho-Phenique.  As you can see from the tube it offers to "instantly relieve pain".  I even circled that part in red for you, just in case you thought I was making this up.

It took every bit of willpower that I had not to scream out loud in the parking lot of the pharmacy when I dabbed it on my cold sore.  To be fair, eight or ten seconds later it had relieved my pain quite nicely.  I, however, do not consider eight to ten seconds to be any sort of definition of the word "instant" in this type of context.  Maybe a credit card company who offers to instantly refund some charge, or Instant Rice, that takes a few minutes to cook. 

Causing great pain for eight to ten seconds prior to relief, however?  Absolutely not.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The future of nuclear power

The Energy Department is working on multiple fronts to help the industry. It is dedicating $452 million over six years to help reactors get licensed, partnering with mPower America to develop a reactor with a goal of operation by 2022 and working with NuScale Power on its own reactor development, a program worth $217 million. The department also has an industry-wide program aimed at assisting with licensing.
There are a couple things I wanted to comment on from the previous quote.

One, the Energy Department is dedicating $452 million to help with licensing.  This makes no sense to me.  Make the regulations so complex that you have to have a special program to get through it, then spend federal money to pay for people to get through your regulations.  What am I missing? Why not just streamline the regulations so that you don't need special help to get them licensed.

Two, the above quote comes from an article in The Hill on small nuclear reactors and energy policy.  Small nuclear reactors have been around for years.  Toshiba has a design for a liquid sodium cooled "portable" reactor, the 4S.  I read articles about this several years ago.  Why has no one pursued this before?  Politics is the short answer.  Regardless of what the Energy Department says, anyone who proposes putting a nuclear reactor anywhere in the United States is going to be inundated with lawsuits and environmental protests.  Never mind that nuclear power is incredibly safe and clean.  There hasn't been a new nuclear plant built in this country since the Seventies, and not because people didn't want to build them.

Cliff dwellers, Motorcycle Diaries Part 3, Addendum, 2015

Mesa Verde.  You know that picture that you've seen all your life of a cliff dwelling?  It's black and white, it dates back to the eighteen hundreds, and it is the quintessential southwestern Native American shot.

Yeah, that one.  It is just as incredible in real life as it is in those 150 year old pictures.

Today we visited Mesa Verde National Park.  Started with a two and a half mile hike to see some petroglyphs.  Incredible hike, tiny little trail winding along the side of a canyon with occasional flights of steps built of sandstone.  At 7,000 feet you run out of breath sooner than you thought you might.  Incredible scenery, however.  Sample?  OK:

Tomorrow we are going to ride the Telluride, Silverton, Durango highway, then Friday do some more hiking over in Canyonlands.  I have to do more hiking.  I haven't done any in years and it was a blast.  Thought I'd be more out of shape but other than the altitude it was OK.  I guess martial arts, running, and surfing is a good routine.

Stand by for updates.

The Motorcycle Diaries 2015, Day 2

You wouldn't think that you could ride a motorcycle for two days without anything interesting happening, would you?

You'd be right.  Lots interesting.

Only problem is it started with me not feeling well.  Four days without a good night's sleep.  Haven't been doing a good job of watching what I eat and that keeps me awake at night.  Woke up feeling OK, then stopped for breakfast.  Felt sick to my stomach all morning.  Great.  That's when I realized that I had slacked on watching my diet.  Heavy carbs, potatoes, toast and rolls, sugar.  Normally don't eat them, had lots the past few days.

While eating breakfast took a look at the weather radar.  It looked something like this.  Debated finding a different way around but decided to ride a bit and see what happened.

This is what happened:

To our left:

To our right:

Straight ahead of us:

To add insult to injury stopped in Salt Lake City at the Harley dealer and as we walked out discovered that I had an oil leak.  Purchased some gaskets, found a hardware store for the tools I didn't have, stopped at the Provo KOA early and fixed the leak. 

It didn't rain that night, proving the forecaster wrong, and it didn't rain in the morning, proving the other forecaster wrong.

We managed to get all the way to Cortez without any rain other than a few drops right outside Moab.

Camped we did:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Barely worthy of metion, but only in America

The United States is an amazingly large place.  I have ridden my Harley through most of it at one time or another, racking up about 225,000 miles on my two Harley Davidsons, during which time I have crossed the country on several occasions. I have also crossed it by car even more times.

I am still surprised when I am traveling down the interstate highway (because I had to, not because I wanted to) and suddenly I look to my right and see:

Image result for malad gorge

I was, of course, up on that bridge span looking down, but I feel like this would be a major attraction in most places.  Instead we whizzed by at 80 miles per hour, the only notifications that there was something interested being the glimpse of Malad Gorge that we saw from the interstate and a state sign saying that the Thousand Springs State Park can be found at the next exit.

We, however, are on our way to Utah to see interesting canyons and rock formations and didn't have time to stop.

The Motorcycle Diaries, 2015 Day 1

Washington state produces 117 million bushels of wheat a year, fifth highest in the United States.

Why would I tell you this in a blog post on motorcycle travel?

Well, I rode through much of that land.  It is simply amazing how vast an area is covered with wheat.  The hillsides are planted in wheat and watching the combine harvesters make their way along was just mind blowing.

The towns are somewhat sad.  Many of them have beautiful old downtowns, including nice houses, but most of them have significant numbers of boarded up businesses and homes.

I rode about 400 miles, Blaine to Waitsburg.  Tried to stay off the interstate highways, but in the interests of time took I-5 down to Everett to get on US Hwy 2, and I-90 from George to Moses Lake.

Best ride?  Highway 261 from Washtuga (a great example of a horrible town, no actual center, no indication that it ever actually had a center or was a town, just a collection of run down houses and stores on a strip of back highway), through Starbuck (which might have been a nice town at one point with some old houses and a couple old buildings).

 Picture to follow, free wi-fi at KOA is acting up.

Apparently the Palouse Falls just off Hwy 261 is really cool but it had been a long day.  I'll need to stop by some time and check it out.,%20Washington.jpg

Monday, July 13, 2015

Government funding: the default postion

Why does everything have to be funded by the government using tax dollars?  Why are we "doing nothing" unless there is a government program to either do it or fund it?  Why does cutting government spending always lead to accusations of "doing nothing" or "attacking" the concept in question?

Even conservatives are guilty of assuming that government funding is some sort of expectation.  Witness a recent column at about renewable energy.  Tony Abbott, prime minister of Australia, has just directed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a government funded bank designed to finance renewable energy research and projects, to stop funding wind farms.  There could be many reasons for this directive but the one that leaps to my mind is the fact that wind power is inefficient, unreliable, and not cost effective.  Turbines cost millions of dollars, are somewhat unreliable, and only generate power in remote areas with steady winds.  Even after billions of dollars in government subsidies and research dollars, wind turbines are still not a generally useful way to provide power across a grid.

The author at, however, makes the following statement:
The funding ban is just the latest salvo in the government’s attacks on the renewable energy sector which also includes small-scale solar projects.

How exactly is cutting government funding equivalent to an "attack" on renewable energy?  Anyone who wants, assuming that they can obtain the requisite permits and environmental impact studies, can build a wind turbine, or even a whole farm full.

This is typical of leftist thought.  They have to take other people's money and use it to fund their own priorities.   Any reduction in that direction is "an attack" on that priority.

It is unfortunate that we see it creeping into conservative/libertarian writing.