Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An exercise in measuring exercise

This morning on an errand I took advantage of a feature of the car we bought after my wife started her new job.

You can track your average miles per gallon from whatever point you re-set the meter. And like on many cars, there's a trip meter that you can use to track your miles travelled from whatever point you re-set that one.

So this morning before turning on the car, I reset both of those meters and learned that my trip covered 2.5 miles, at an average gas usage of 17.8 miles per gallon.

In other words, I used 0.14 gallons (2.5 miles / 17.8 miles per gallon).

That's a generous 2 cups of gasoline (0.14 gallons times 16 cups per gallon = 2.25 cups).

How much energy is in that much gasoline?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


In the primate room at the museum you are drawn to the hand of the ogangutan skeleton.

Made for an easy firm grasp on a branch large enough to hold the animal's weight, it is so perfectly shaped that it's not just the hand as a whole that wraps around the branch. Even some of the individual bones look like they're gently curved for a good fit.

How not to envy the orangutan's hands, when one of your own fingers has already given up bending where it's supposed to?

Still, it's good to recall that those curved bones aren't enough to let the orangutan type. And also that this particular one is already a skeleton.

And that his whole species may be on the way out the door.

And that its exit is our doing.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

We love you just the way (we think) you are (Day 3)

Previous post

This morning we left Playa Rancho Luna outside Cienfuegos, to go to Trinidad, and from there to Sancti Spíritus.
We started near Cienfuegos, went east to Trinidad,
then northeast to Sancti Spíritus.
Much of the first leg of the drive is on the Caribbean, weaving along the coast, taking bridges over small valleys where streams reach the sea, or where streams would reach the sea if there were more water in them at the moment. Along the way, Jesús narrates some of the history of the region, include Trinidad's role in the sugar trade.

Our first stop was at the Santander pottery workshop. We got to see various craftsmen at work at their wheels, and their output in various stages of completion.
Photo: Chris Shaw
Photo: Chris Shaw
The entryway to the potters' shop had a wall full of pictures—the proprietor with Fidel, with other Cuban notables, "los Cinco" (the Five, the Cubans who had been convicted of espionage in the U.S. and later released as part of the warming of relations that Obama and Raúl Castro announced in December).
Photo: Chris Shaw
The lobby also had some dangerously comfortable metal rocking chairs,
Photo: Pat Dopazo
in front of what appeared to be one of the shop's trademarks, a ceramic bell from which hangs a spiral net of smaller bells.

Photo: Anjali Limbu