Chasing Damselflies over the Potomac

It was cloudy yesterday morning at Pennyfield lock as we set out north towards Riley’s lock.  My old routine of early morning runs along the river on Sunday mornings has changed. I have company these days.  It has become a family affair. My wife and I are by ourselves on some of the Sundays, but on many other Sundays this also turns into a group event with other families joining us, the other families having been convinced that the outdoor activity is indeed a good thing for them.  In order to accommodate the larger group, this event has become a walk rather than a run, and it takes place a little later in the morning than I have gotten used to for many years.  But it is all for a good cause!

The cool of the cloudy morning, the early signs of changing color on the trees, and the dry leaves already on the ground informed us that the Fall season is on its way.

There are still flowers on some of the plants along the trail, but I could see that these would also be soon gone.

There were no herons to be seen on the canal this day, but I did sight an egret in the distance in the middle of the river.  What was it up to? Was it catching fish, or simply enjoying the feeling of standing in the flowing water while listening to the sounds of the river around it.

The waters of the river were low and at some point we decided to go down to the river from the towpath to see how far we could get walking towards the middle of the river by stepping over the exposed rocks.

We encountered plenty of damselflies along the way. (Yes, these exist, and they are not the same as dragonflies.)  Some of us tried to catch them as they hovered around, but they were too quick for us.  I stuck to using my camera.

The water was clear and you could see the fish and other little creatures of the water swimming around.  There were dry leaves already floating in the water, a sure a sign of the start of the Fall season, .

As we walked along the towpath we came upon the squirrel sitting on the branch of a tree chewing on something or the other.  It cooperated long enough for its picture to be taken.

It was a very pleasant walk on a day that also happened to be my birthday. I think this was the appropriate way to celebrate an event like this, and the way to also try to celebrate every day of my life.

Cheers everybody!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

It took me just a little while to realize that I had the perfect subject matter for the topic of this week’s challenge.  This is because I have been wandering over the C&O canal towpath over many years taking pictures through all seasons.  Here are some pictures that capture one aspect of change as I have observed it.

The first target for my observations is the Pennyfield lock house.  Here is a picture from early spring.

and here is one from a month later.

Here is the same lock house in winter.

Then take a look a Swains lock on a Fall day,

and then in winter.

Taking a look at the aqueducts of the C&O canal, the Catoctin Aqueduct was destroyed by Hurricane Agnes in 1972.  It was replaced by a temporary bailey bridge for many years.

April 2006Here is what it looked like when they started reconstruction.

and here is what it looks like after the work was complete in 2011.  They did a great job!

I will end with a picture of the bridge near Anglers Inn that was taken in the Fall.

Here is another picture of the same bridge taken in winter.

Feb 2010I find it hard to resist the temptation to dig up more pictures of this wonderful place I visit, but I must stop lest I be accused of obsessive behavior!

Types of Technology Initiatives that make Sense

Environmentally friendly approaches to technology development are important because they ultimately impact the future of our planet and the quality of life for the generations that follow.

In this context, when it comes to the technologies related to energy, we look for cleaner sources of energy, we look for technologies that generate energy more efficiently from these sources, and finally we try to design equipment that operate efficiently without wasting energy.

The article below pertains to technology that does not fall neatly into any one of the categories noted above.  It has to do with regenerating energy.  It is about saving the energy that might have been wasted and reusing it in some way.

The principle used in the system described below is in some ways similar to that in hybrid cars. In an hybrid vehicle, a traction battery provides power to a motor that supplements the gasoline engine as needed to move the vehicle.  This battery is recharged when there is either some braking action, or when the automobile its trying to increase speed and build up momentum on a down-slope.  Essentially what is happening is that the energy that is generated from braking, instead of being wasted as heat, is converted to electric power.  Kinetic energy generated on the downhills is also converted to electric power. There is no additional external source of power.  We are basically saving energy in the battery when possible and then using that energy later when it makes sense.

In the system described below, the trains provide electric power in real time to the underground stations when they brake to come to a stop in the station.   The numbers from the article are an indication of the tremendous amount of energy that is available from this process, and also an indication of the tremendous amount of energy we are wasting today.  It would be great if this kind of a philosophy – of taking advantage of the unused energy from an inefficient process and reusing it for either the primary process itself, or for a secondary purpose – be considered more widely in the design of all systems that consume energy, especially since we have many technologies in place today that are still quite inefficient.  Towards this end, the ability to store energy efficiently on a large scale at a reasonable cost point is still a significant technological issue to be addressed and solved.

London Tube’s ‘regenerative braking’ tech can power an entire station“.

Are there any Boundaries for Greed

People like the person noted in the article below are greedy parasites who seem to thrive on the misery of others.  They can come up with all kinds of reasons to justify the things they are doing, and also make all the excuses they want in this regard, but in reality all they seem to care about is making money for themselves even at the expense of others.  This is unfortunately the result of capitalism run amok, without a conscience.  It is folks like this who cause new rules and regulations to come into place regarding the the conduct of business that they can later cry about.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/business/a-huge-overnight-increase-in-a-drugs-price-raises-protests.html

The publicity behind this story may have changed the final outcome a little.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/22/business/big-price-increase-for-tb-drug-is-rescinded.html?_r=0

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grids

The picture below illustrates how humans tend to convert natural shapes that are usually irregular into those that are more repeatable, including the grids that are very common for farming.

The picture below is another example of a grid created by human beings, and is perhaps also also a commentary on the state of the human condition.

This is the Grid!