Posts Tagged travel
I’ve just returned from a wonderful conference in Vienna of European and African (plus one Malaysian) Design-Expert® software users. Afterwards I spent the weekend in Budapest. First off I must marvel at the chances of a magnificent river such as the Danube just happening to wind its way through these two great cities, as well as Bratislava and Belgrade—all four being capitals. Surely this fortuitous routing of the waterway evidences a higher power. ; )
My knowledge of the histories of these regions in Austria and Hungary increased many-fold, but of course I must acknowledge starting with a very low denominator on this ratio. The tour of the private quarters of the Habsburg Emperors went far too much into the sad story of Sissi—the beautiful Empress who lived like a beautiful bird in a gilded cage and ultimately died at the hands of an anarchist run amok (he actually meant to kill another royal, but settled for her). See the sordid details here.
The history of Budapest was laid out nicely in a display I stumbled across in the Royal Palace on Castle Hill. Via a series of a dozen or so placards with associated artifacts, this stroll through time told a story of repeated destruction. It starts with the mid 13th century construction of a walled town to fend off the Mongol hordes. Then in another hundred years it continues with the building of a keep by Prince Istvan the Angry (a royal pain—I am sure). After some further hundreds of years the Turks came in and the Turks came out. The story told at the church on the Hill is that their ammunition exploded and a statue of Virgin Mary burst out of the wall that they’d plastered over when converting it to a mosque. This catalyzed the successful end of the siege by Christian forces. Holy Mary! Coming to the 20th century things get even worse with the two world wars and the cold war, which of course resulted in various occupations by unwanted outsiders. But all is good now, I think, other than the armies of Americans and other tourists coming left and right on Viking longboats for four-day forays around the town flinging forints (the Hungarian currency) to the local shopkeepers and restaurateurs. It could be worse!
Earlier this month I enjoyed a wonderful sail out of Cornucopia, Wisconsin to Lake Superior’s Mawikwe Sea Caves — described nicely here in a pictorial blog by the Howder family.
Mawikwe means “weeping woman” in Ojibwe. Due to heavy rains in the days leading up to our voyage, the caves were weeping steadily, as you can see and hear in my video. I was fascinated by the cacophony of dripping water combined with the galumphing of the waves into the baby caves at water level. It provided a pleasing mix of randomness and rhythm. Turn up your volume and listen for yourself.
PS. By the way, I learned that by yelling into a sea cave you can (pun intended!) duet yourself.
Our marketing director emailed me this motivational video called “212° the extra degree.” this motivational video called “212° the extra degree”. It says that at this temperature water boils providing the steam needed to accomplish things. The idea is that only one degree of heat makes all the difference.
I get it. However, being a chemical engineer with an interest in being accurate about physical processes, I had to be troublesome by pointing out that here in Twin Cities at over 800 above sea-level the pressure drops enough that on average the boiling point drops to 210.5 F. But setting this aside and focusing only on the 1 degree between water and steam, one must keep in mind the huge difference of simply heating up water versus making it change state, the is, the heat (or enthalpy in technical terms) of vaporization.
Thank goodness that our marketing director had become accustomed to working with a bunch of engineers, statisticians and programmers who, when one asks “Could I talk with your for a minute?”, immediately set the timer on their digital watches for precisely 60 seconds (the the nearest one-hundredth).
Coincidentally, while vacationing in Wisconsin’s Door County, I enjoyed a fine demonstration of how hard it can be to bring a quantity of water to a boil. It’s a tradition there to throw a bunch of fish in one kettle and vegetables in another and cook them up with a wood fire. However, as I learned and experienced from a somewhat dangerous vantage point, a pitcher of kerosene provides the final heat needed to accomplish the boil-over. My eyebrows needed a bit of burn-back, so that’s OK.
My youngest brother, an engineer like me and our father, sent us this link showing how a fellow from Michigan, Wally Wallington, single-handedly lifted a Stonehenge-sized pillar weighing 22,000 lbs. I visited Stonehenge in June and learned that, prior to erecting these really large pillars, earlier builders (2000 BC!) put up 80 bluestones, up to 4 tons apiece, that they mined 240 miles away in Wales. These were thought to have been moved magically by the sorcerer Merlin. More likely these were transported much of the distance by raft and overland on rollers as demonstrated by the Millennium project.
I thought the bluestones were the coolest of all that I saw at Stonehenge, but you must look beyond the larger sandstone pillars to see them and appreciate how much older they are. For more on their history, see the Secrets of the Preseli Bluestones by Dr. Colin R. Shearing.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. – Arthur C Clarke