Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Warming up

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. My folks are out of the country, so it's the first time I've been on my own for Thanksgiving. Wasn't anywhere near as bad as I might have imagined. Of course, there was a time a few years ago when I forgot it was my own birthday till my Mom phoned me. That's how it goes.

So what did I do instead? I went to the Science Centre, of course. P-Doug brought his mother down from the north and dropped her off at his sister's place, so I picked him up and took him with me. We saw an IMAX movie called "Forces of Nature" that was volcanoes, earthquakes, and tornadoes, and the efforts being put into predicting them and avoiding them. The most interesting thing I learned was that a large fault runs through Turkey, and its stress point has been moving westward, and is now situated about ten miles south of Istanbul. They're going to get it soon, so they have to get ready.

The stuff about tornadoes was also pretty interesting. They field crew they had had two doppler radar setups, and they managed to be the first team in history to position themselves at the proper right angle to record the creation of a tornado in radar in three dimensions. It wasn't quite as zany as Twister, but there was an outtake during the end credits that showed the guy with the IMAX camera realizing the tornado he's filming is too close and deciding to get in the car. The driver comes out for a moment to help him, and it quickly becomes apparent he's locked them out of the car. Talk about your cliffhanger endings. I'd really love to know how they got out of that.

After the show, we wandered around the Centre. There was a display about global warming from the point of view of people living in the Arctic, and it was hosted by an animated inukshuk ("in-NOOK-shook", one of these things: http://www.phototour.ca/pop/inukshuks.htm). I've always found these "global warming" tracts ironic. They always start off by pointing out how wildly varied the climate's been in the past, but then they get into how the temperature variations these days must be manmade. I'm not saying they're wrong, and I think we ought to be roping in emissions for so many reasons... but I'm still suspicious of the science. It's too shallow, timewise. When I was a kid, a few bad winters had science speculating we were heading into the next ice age, since we were blocking out the sun. Now, a few hot summers and we're trapping it. This strikes me as Ug the caveman warning everyone not to spin around three times because that must be what causes the gods to send lightning bolts. Maybe. But I just think the environment is a whole lot bigger and more complicated than that.

We also ran into this guy running the radio shack there. He was a ham operator, and it was pretty fascinating listening to him. But there was this sense of time having passed him by, and even he admitted it. The functions of ham radio not that long ago have largely been taken over by the Internet. More than a few times, he asked us if we were interested in getting involved in ham radio, and he was only half-joking. It did seem interesting, and if I'd been an adult in the 70s, I'd have probably jumped right on. But it's not the 70s.

I better wrap this up for now. It's a start. I'll see if I can record a little more of my thoughts on the trip later on.

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