Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Driving Adventure

I drove about a week and now I'm back in Tampa again. The hairiest part was in the West Texas grasslands, which in my previous drives through them were the easiest place to drive I had ever been (except for boredom): hours of driving at 80 down a lonely freeway with flat brown grass on one side and flat brown grass on the other. Imagine being at the intersection of nowhere and nowhere, driving for ten hours, and still being in the same place. There's something sort of soothing about it. But this time, about 6 hours into the arid grassland, an incredible storm whistled up and the plains were pounded by torrential rain for about 18 hours. I was crawling along at 20-25 mph, with almost zero visibility, for hours, hydroplanning occasionally, pulling over on the shoulder and stopping occasionally, out between Odessa and Big Spring. Then finally reached a place where I could rent a motel, only to wake up nine hours later and find myself still driving through the same thing. Remarkable!

It was an adventure, which was good, although the hydroplanning was not good, and the incredibly powerful, very close lightning, in the early parts of the storm, was amazing, but sometimes too close and too loud. At one point a lightning bolt hit a powerline or telephone pole across the road from me, and then a second blast went from the pole into the freeway--BOOM! A lot of very visible electricity. We should really, we would do this if we were smart, capture the lightning, and use it as a genie to move our machines.

I suggested to a friend in Texas that the fact that the arid West Texas grassland was suffering such unusual storms might be a sign of climate change. (The area is typically very dry, and I think is typically categorized as a type of desert because of the low rainfall.) My friend replied that I was probably right, but that he had read that climate change was a natural phenomenon. So I guess that's the current state of the climate change discussion in Texas. He told me that the increasing warmth was typical of the end of a "little Ice Age." And I told him that such a theory didn't really account for the fact that cardon dioxide has different chemical properties than oxygen, and that it is not hard to understand that an increased amount of carbon in the air would have certain unavoidable effects.

A few days earlier, back in LA, here are pictures from my Goodbye Party. Dana Ward and I read, and Ara Shirinyan roasted me. And many wonderful people were there! Thanks for the pics Harold!

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