From the universe song in Monty Python's Meaning of Life:
So remember when you're feeling very small and insecure,
how amazingly unlikely is your birth,
and pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space,
'cause there's bugger-all down here on earth.
To a small dog, a human is a wall with nose hairs at the top.
And with apologies to any residents of the Cornhusker state...
English Bob : Well, actually, what I heard was that you fell off your horse, drunk of course, and that you broke your bloody neck.
Little Bill Daggett : I heard that one myself, Bob. Hell, I even thought I was dead 'til I found out it was just that I was in Nebraska.
I saw a miniseries version on Canada's Space: The Imagination Station, long before it was bought out by Corus. It was an early-aughts-era made-for-TV miniseries, but I thought it was fantastic.
This must be the John Harrison "Frank Herbert's Dune" miniseries made in 2000, followed by a "Children of Dune" miniseries in 2003. My wife and I are watching these right now -- no special coincidence, we're just working through our DVD collection in alphabetical order and it was next on the list.
The miniseries is indeed good. Harrison makes an admirable effort to closely follow the story, Ian McNeice pulls off a suitably creepy Baron Harkonnen and the special effects (although outdated by today's standards) are quite good for the time.
If you're a Patrick Stewart fan like we are, you can go back to the great 1970's BBC miniseries of the "I Claudius" novels and see a much younger Picard sporting curly golden locks as the Sejanus character.
Definitely some possibilities there. I hope it's better than the gawdawful 1984 attempt. My brother and I went to see it with high hopes on the day it hit the theaters. Within the first five minutes we looked at each other and said "we've been had".
National Lampoon has a great spoof novel, "Doon". In it, the Litany Against Fear becomes the Litany Against Fun:
"I must not have fun. Fun is the time-killer. Fun is for children, customers and the help. I will forget fun. I will take a pass on it. And while it is going, I will turn a blind eye to it. When fun is gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain -- I and my will to win. Damn, I'm good!"
True enough. Me old mum's 50-year medical career witnessed a daily parade of human hijinks. On her annoyance scale, a spot of sanitizer drama would rate little more than a shrug and maybe some laughs in the break room.
In 1977, a time of dire peak oil concern, my Alma Mater sponsored a symposium titled "What Happens When The Oil Runs Out?". The speakers included notables from industry (the CEO of Exxon), conservation (David Brower of Sierra Club), federal government (Walter Hickel, then U.S. Interior Secretary) and state government (Richard Lamm, then Colorado governor).
The gist of the speechifying amounted to this:
Exxon: "At current rates, the Hubbert curve says we'll run out around... here."
Hickel: "God will provide, we'll never run out!"
Brower: "Sure, we'll run out, but we don't have to run out quite so fast."
Lamm: "As supplies diminish, government will play an increasing role."
Afterwards, the floor was turned over to the audience for comments. The first commenter rather scathingly pointed out that not a single speaker had addressed the alleged topic of the symposium -- what happens when the oil runs out.
not letting "perfect" get in the way of getting stuff done and making the best of what we can with what we have and know at the time
The world of science has a well-known quotation for this situation.
In the late 1930s, a few years before World War 2 began, Britain began building an air-defense warning system using the recently discovered concept of radar. The leader of the project, a physicist named R.A. Watson-Watt, pushed ahead with the construction of what became known as the "Chain Home" system -- a network of radar stations based upon primitive, balky low-resolution technology. When asked why he was deploying "third best" technology when more advanced systems were already being designed, Watson-Watt replied:
"The best never comes, and second-best comes too late."
My wife saw a peregrine falcon outside this morning, which for no adequately defined reason reminded me of a poem from the Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle "Lucifer's Hammer" novel:
I went out to take a friggin' walk by the friggin' reservoir,
a-wishin' for a friggin' quid to pay my friggin' score,
my head it was a-achin' and my throat was parched and dry,
and so I sent a little prayer a-wingin' to the sky.
And there came a friggin' falcon and he walked upon the waves,
and I said, "A friggin' miracle!" and sang a couple staves,
of a friggin' churchy ballad that I learned when I was young,
the friggin' bird took to the air, and spattered me with dung.
I fell upon my friggin' knees and bowed my friggin' head,
and said three friggin' Aves for all my friggin' dead,
and then I got upon my feet and said another ten,
the friggin' bird burst into flame and spattered me again.
The burnin' bird hung in the sky just like a friggin' sun,
it seared my friggin' eyelids shut, and when the job was done,
the friggin' bird flashed cross the sky just like a shootin' star,
I ran to tell the friggin' priest -- he bummed my last cigar.
I told him of the miracle, he told me of the Rose,
I showed him bird crap in my hair, the bastard held his nose,
I went to see the bishop, but the friggin' bishop said,
"Go home and sleep it off, you sod -- and wash your friggin' head!"
Then I came upon a friggin' wake for a friggin' rotten swine,
by the name of Jock O'Leary and I touched his head with mine,
and old Jock sat up in his box and raised his friggin' head,
his wife took out a forty-four and shot the bastard dead.
Again I touched his head with mine and brought him back to life,
his smiling face rolled on the floor, this time she used a knife.
And then she fell upon her knees and started in to pray,
"It's forty years, O Lord," she said, "I've waited for this day."
So I walked the friggin' city 'mongst the friggin' halt and lame,
and every time I raised them up, they got knocked down again.
'Cause the love of God comes down to man in a friggin' curious way,
but when a man is marked for love, that love is here to stay.
And this I know because I've got a friggin' curious sign,
for every time I wash my head, the water turns to wine.
And I gives it free to workin' blokes to brighten up their lives,
so they don't kick no dogs around, nor beat up on their wives.
'Cause there ain't no use to miracles like walkin' on the sea,
they crucified the Son of God, but they don't muck with me.
'Cause I leave the friggin' blind alone, the dyin' and the dead,
but every day at four-o'clock, I wash my friggin' head.
Changing the name might end up as a repeat of Borland's ill-fated late-90s decision to rebrand as "Inprise". During the few years before the name was mercifully switched back to "Borland", a confused public invented its own company moniker. If the same thing happens here, the RMH may end up as "The Heater Formerly Known As Rocket Mass".
Removing a lengthy stretch of asphalt can be a herculean task. On our previous property we replaced a worn out driveway. The asphalt was a standard 4-inch pour; the attached picture gives an idea of the scale of the removal process. The crew's dump truck made many trips that day.
Keep in mind that, in one of the many gif-movie internet spoofs of Lord of The Rings, when Boromir utters the famous line "one does not simply walk into Mordor", Frodo replies with the obvious and reasonable:
A problem with underground nests is that you don't know exactly what you're up against (i.e., the size of the opposing army and the layout of their fortress) until the war is over. A nighttime assault gives you a temporary element of surprise, but within 10-20 seconds they're awake and boiling out -- half of them from that exit you didn't know about -- with a score to settle.
On a hot day like today I could definitely go for getting caught in the rain. Conversely, I AM into yoga and, except for the occasional mimosa, am not into champagne. I'd be okay with the whole "making love at midnight in the dunes" thing if it weren't for the sand trying to join the fun.
I understand is that even a Carrington event is not a global phenomenon
Technically, a magnetic storm is a worldwide event inasmuch as the entire magnetosphere is involved. However, you're correct that the effects of the storm can be very localized.
In general, the storm does damage by inducing sheets of current in the earth's crust. A regional effect is that the current density tends to increase at higher latitudes due to the higher magnetic activity in the auroral zones. Unfortunately, much of the industrialized world reaches into the high latitudes.
The induced currents are able to enter the power grid at the points where the grid is connected to the earth. In regions where the crust has low resistivity, the currents *may* stay put within the crust and not enter the grid. However, in regions of high crust resistivity, the grid offers an easier path to the currents thanks to the grounding points. So, another regional effect is introduced: a portion of the grid sitting above conductive bedrock may see a negligible amount of invading current while a neighboring portion sitting above resistive bedrock sees a huge amount. The picture below, from a USGS publication, illustrates the process.
This is where the power industry's interest in "risk maps" comes in. Over the past decade or two, the Space Weather and Geomag communities began combining data on regional crustal resistivity with historical and simulated data of magnetic storms to produce national maps showing how much induced current might be expected at different points of the grid for a given level of storm. The power industry then uses the maps to assess the vulnerability levels within the grid and come up with mitigation plans.
If a major collapse of the grid occurred, a limiting factor of the recovery would be simple human short-sightedness. Around 2005 I was told by an industry rep that full recovery might take decades because 1) the existing stock of replacement transformers is a tiny fraction of the many thousands that would be lost to meltdown and 2) worldwide there are only a handful of manufacturers of said transformers. I hope that The Powers That Be have addressed this issue since then.
I should probably shut up about the EMP as it is an extremely remote likelihood.
The possibility of a large-scale magnetic storm isn't too remote. In 2012, the Earth got lucky and was outside the path of a massive CME. The Space Weather and Geomagnetism communities later determined that, had it hit the Earth, it would likely have been a Carrington-level event. The power industry is increasingly aware of the danger and is steadily supporting development of mitigation strategies and geoelectric "risk maps" similar to risk maps for earthquake damage.
NOAA has an interesting slide show that summarizes the vulnerability of power grids and includes some photos of what storms like the 1989 "superstorm" and the 2003 "Halloween storm" can do to the huge transformers that the grid depends on. The conclusions rather casually mention that the 1989 storm packed about one-tenth of the punch of the Carrington event:
We've somehow ended up at the overkill end of the electricity spectrum. Our property came with a 20kva diesel generator that had some mechanical issues and was so old that nursing it and finding parts would be a full-time job. It crapped out on the first winter power outage.
The smallest replacement we could find on short notice was a used (120 hours) 40kva tricked out with a load bank and acoustic weatherproof enclosure. The installer had to stop in mid-installation to go get a bigger tractor -- the one he brought was big enough to move the old generator but waaay too tippy with the big kahunga on the forks. So far it's performed flawlessly for its weekly 20-minute exercise cycle and through power outages ranging from 4 to 16 hours. We estimate that, if we were frugal about power use, it could run non-stop for up to 10 days on its internal fuel tank, and non-stop for another three weeks on fuel transferred from the external tank that holds our heating oil.
Having 40kva available borders on the obscene, but it's nice to know that during a power failure we could bake a turkey while running space heaters and a blow dryer with maybe some laundry and arc-welding on the side. It's also reassuring when the lights go out to count "4... 3... 2... 1..." and hear that big 'ol John Deere engine spring into action.
I remember this one from a book of childhood poems. It was great for learning vocabulary and pronunciation.
A Nonsense Rhyme
by James Whitcomb Riley
And what will we sing?
Some little crinkety-crankety thing,
That rhymes and chimes,
And skips sometimes,
As though wound up with a kink in the spring.
Sing the song that the bullfrog sung.
A song of the soul
Of a mad tadpole
That met his fate in a leaky bowl!
And it's O for the first false wiggle he made,
In a sea of pale pink lemonade!
And it's O for the thirst
Within him pent,
And the hopes that burst
As his reason went,
When his strong arm failed and his strength was spent!
Sing, O sing
Of the things that cling,
And the claws that clutch and the fangs that sting,
Till the tadpole's tongue
And his tail upflung
Quavered and failed with a song unsung!
O the dank despair in the rank morass,
Where the crawfish crouch in the cringing grass,
And the long limp rune of the loon wails on
For the mad, sad soul
Of a bad tadpole
Forever lost and gone!
And now we'll see
What the last of the lay shall be,
As the dismal tip of the tune, O friends,
Swoons away and the long tale ends.
And it's O and alack!
For the tangled legs
And the spangled back
Of the green grig's eggs,
And the unstrung strain
Of the strange refrain
That the winds wind up like a strand of rain!
And it's O, also,
For the ears wreathed low,
Like a laurel-wreath on the lifted brow
Of the frog that chants of the why and how,
And the wherefore too, and the thus and so
Of the wail he weaves in a woof of woe!
Twangle, then, with your wrangling strings,
The tinkling links of a thousand things!
And clang the pang of a maddening moan
Till the echo, hid in a land unknown,
Shall leap as he hears, and hoot and hoo
Like the wretched wraith of a Whoopty-Doo!
The possibility of friction from potential heirs might need to be addressed in the legal jargon. A relative lusting for a million-dollar property could appear from the woodwork to contest the will:
"Your honor, out of nowhere this smooth-talking Guy From The Internet shows up and within a month svengali-ed my client's dear 'ol uncle into rejecting the loving nephew what personally cared for his every need in his declining years!"
My wife and I once operated a dog boarding kennel for a few years. Two regulars were a pair of male Brittany Spaniels, littermates, who shared a kennel. After their daily walk, they would sit facing each other, almost touching with heads straight up and muzzles crossed, doing a weird "woooowoooowooo" quiet almost-howl.
An interesting offer, but I fear that my wife might, at best, consider it sufficient cause to withhold my daily gin/grapefruit ration or, at worst, demote me to the role of "nutrient substrate" in the next hugel mound.