atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#6514: Yes, it's f-ing cold out there.

Current temp is 5. This time tomorrow it's projected to be -20. The nadir of -24 is forecast for 7 AM Thursday morning.

Mrs. Fungus wanted me to put some washer fluid in her car, so I went out there to do that. Problem #1: her trunk was frozen shut. So, look in the Jeep? Problem #2: Jeep's hatch frozen shut. Go in through the back door to check the toolbox, find none, and then Problem #3: passenger side rear door frozen open.

Some PB Blaster freed that up enough that I could shut it. Started the Jeep just to make sure it'd be okay today and let it run until the heater blew warm. Also checked the dipstick in the washer fluid for her car--Toyota thinks of everything--and found she has maybe 2/3 of a tank. This is a tank that she once ran dry, and it quite literally took most of two gallons to fill. I'm sure she has enough to last her until we can get her trunk open, or I go to get more of the stuff.

Sunday it's supposed to hit 40. I don't think I'll be wearing shorts, but that sure will feel nice.

* * *

As always, my suggestion is "You first." Anyone who advocates for the voluntary extinction of the human race is a lunatic. Particularly when their reason is that the Earth must be saved from humans.

Dickhead, given the chance we will develop the technology that enables us to move beyond needing a planet to live on. Whatever we do to the Earth in the youth of our civilization we can fix once we no longer need to live here.

So far as we know, we're it; there are no other intelligent species out there. As unique as we appear to be, we have a mandate to preserve our kind; and that includes doing with the universe as we like. It looks as if this big fancy thing is our playground, and we haven't even begun to play with it; right now we're still trying to figure out how to open the gate to get into it.

We can--in time--build our own worlds with a billion times the surface area of one measly planet. We can imagine doing this now; what will we come up with later, when we have the technology to build those worlds?

Any way you slice it, we are only just getting started.

* * *

My 19-year-old Jeep started right up in five degreee weather. Tesla owners may have a little more trouble than that. Of course, considering how much the damned things cost, I expect Tesla owners to keep their electric cars in heated garages, and that's fine...but what do you do when you want to go home tonight and the whole thing's in cold shutdown because the battery pack ran itself flat trying to keep warm enough to use?

Call a tow truck. Have the car unloaded into your heated garage and plug it in. Tomorrow, take the nanny's Volt or Prius to work.

* * *

I am still at a loss to understand why minimum wage advocates stop short. They want a "living wage", they say, and $15 an hour will do...but if you really think simply raising the minimum wage will fix that, why not advocate for $20 an hour? $30? $50?

Idiot columnist in NYT says that $33 an hour is a "living wage" for people living in NYC. And as usual, the lefty that extruded that nonsense hasn't bothered to consider the unintended consequences of mandating a minimum wage that's nearly five times the federal one. You know, things like massive unemployment for unskilled workers.


* * *

Watched Unstoppable last night. I've wanted to see it for a while but I didn't want to pay anything for it; it was pretty entertaining stuff.

Basic story is that somehow a train gets out onto the main line with its throttle in "Run 8" and the train brakes disconnected. Oh boy.

They kind of glossed over the deadman switch in the engine, but simple fact is that the control system in the cab challenges the engineer every so often, and if that challenge is not answered, the thing shuts off power. But there's no story if the safety system works correctly, so they lampshaded it.

The brakes were disconnected. Here I need to explain a little detail about the Westinghouse air brake system used on modern trains before I can explain why this was a bit of a problem.

The "train line" is an air hose that essentially runs the length of the train. Further, each car has a reservoir which is filled from this hose. When there is pressure in the reservoir, if there is no pressure in the train line, the brakes are on and the train doesn't move. In general, most cars will retain pressure in the reservoir for a significant period of time. Nonetheless, when a line of cars is parked, one car must have its handbrake set for every five cars in the train. A train sitting on a siding in a yard will have that.

So far so good.

In the case of the train in Unstoppable, the cars were sitting on a siding with a locomotive connected to them, but the train line was disconnected some minor distance from the locomotive. Tasked with moving the train, when told by his conductor that the train line was not connected, the engineer told his conductor not to bother with it. Even though he knew it was a 39-car train and he had to put the engine in "run 8" to get it moving.

Moving a train that way is, I might add, a violation of federal regulations. Even if you're just moving it to another track in the yard, you don't move it without making sure the brakes work. You can move one or two cars around a yard without brakes, but not a consist of two locomotives and 39 cars.

But it was made plain that it was an active track, not long-term storage, which is why the consist had to be moved in the first place. Those cars--or at least a good number of them--were likely to have full reservoirs. And that means that without the train line connected, they wouldn't move, because their brakes would be on.

Still, I can let that one slide, at least a little. The brake problem isn't nearly as bad as the deadman switch problem.

Where it all falls down is the sequence near the end where Denzel Washington is hopping from car to car, applying the hand brakes. Not because of the "hopping" part--that was how they stopped trains before air brakes were invented--but because he applied the brakes on a significant number of cars, yet with a locomotive attached to the back end and all those hand brakes on, they couldn't get the train to slow down very much.

Federal regulations say that one out of every five cars is enough to keep a train from moving. If he applied the brakes on eight cars, that would be 20% of the consist; given that the two locomotives are powering the train in Run 8--full power--there'd be enough drag from those eight cars that it would have to slow down. Yet when the brakes on the trailing locomotive fail, after the hand brakes have been applied, the thing begins to speed up again. I just don't see it.

So, needed a hefty dose of "suspension of disbelief", but at that I really enjoyed it. WTF, at least this runaway train movie acknowledged that trains use air brakes. Remember Atomic Train? That one had some goober fucking around with hydraulic fluid. *sigh*

It was suspenseful and enjoyable, so what the hey.
Tags: #1, #2, #3

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