End of Hiatus! Penitentiary + Energy Conference + China!

Hello! After practically two weeks of inactivity (would have been 10 days but my computer fan broke and Apple kept my computer for FOUR DAYS) I am BACK!!!!!!!

I’m not really sure how to catch up on everything that’s been happening since I last wrote. It’s week 8 out of 11 or 12 in DC.

I’m going to keep it simple because simple posts are fun, and also I started watching this drama called City Hunter like 15 minutes ago… and it looks REALLY good so far… (yes, I did my running today, I’m making a rule of no dramas before exercise… like right now…)

(If these pictures are all different sizes… blame the uploading and “server maintenance!” You had two weeks to do that, wordpress!)

I’ll start off with some snapshots of what’s been happening.

First off…

I’m going to this place…

For an ‘energy trip’, from August 17 to 27th, with other students from MIT and elsewhere. We’ll visit an offshore wind farm, a coal mine, an electric vehicle charging station, the Terracotta Army (there’s some Chinese culture involved), take classes at Xi’an University…

Expect a CHINA feature on this blog, at that time! We’ll see if there’s time to do daily posts about ENERGY! And FOOD! (And err… the rest of China!) And just a shoutout – if anyone has advice on perfecting Chinese vowels in a month, let me know. Maybe I’ll just karaoke Jay Chou songs and be fine since no one Chinese understands what he says anyway. (Like at MIT! Good times!)

All right, more on that later on, now for other news…

July 4th – went to the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. It was a jail meant to ‘reform’ prisoners by keeping them in solo cells… for two years. So they could meditate on their sins. Did it work? Well… (what do you think?)

Here’s a typical cell (inmates stayed in it for 23 hours and got an hour to ‘exercise’ in a field (through the door) the same size about as their cell…:

 

Al Capone was kept here. Look at his cell!

There was also a prisoner that DUG his way out, and several prisoners escaped through the tunnel… (but they were all found pretty soon)

Oh and I learned that what I’m learning at work is RELEVANT in the real world… controllers, anyone? If they can control a bus wash, they can control Death Row too, right? (By the time death row was added, the “penitentiary” had abandoned all pretenses of being one.)

Today, July 13 – Went to the Department of Energy Quadrennial Conference, a series of workshops talking about their energy portfolio!

Most of the morning consisted of ‘we’re trying to make this public and transparent’ and ‘the number one goal here is to fund innovations’ and ‘we need an analysis of where technologies are at or will probably be in 5, 10 years’. There was less of that analysis. But there was a lot of ‘support for innovation!’ As well as talk about the general political barriers/slowness, questions as to how much the DOE can actually do with a shrinking budget, if it’s going to become the next NSF for Energy, etc.

One thing they mentioned was infrastructure – while other countries have ‘made their choice’ as to what infrastructure they want to support (like China, European countries…) we haven’t. Fuel cells, biofuels, electricity… one panelist said ‘we don’t want to pick a winner and have losers’ – which makes sense in an overall portfolio for an immature renewable energy group of technologies, perhaps… but the rest of the panelists said, ‘Hey, we’ve GOT to make some tough decisions here.’ My question is, when will those decisions be made?

Another thing I liked was that panelists said that carbon reduction was a top priority, not just national security or JUST efficiency or lower prices in the short-term or whatnot but CARBON… yes!!!

There are a few videos of the whole conference here!

At work – did a short presentation on my bus wash project, and think it went well!

Running – bought new, lighter shoes, tried to run on the balls of my feet and actually did, for 7 miles on Saturday at 6 on Sunday… (and maybe 4 today… went more ‘natural’ on the last .5 to keep up with my group) But the weekend was awesome because I got to run under this:

That’s my two week update! Now I’m off to figure out how to run Apache, MySQL, and Drupal for REAL, and and and but first watch CITY HUNTER!

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