Requiem

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At 4 o’clock in the morning the swamp cooler can be used without water. Temperature outside is cool enough to freshen up the room, so no need for anything else than outside air. Although by day we are having 95 degrees as the latest norm, by night temperatures drop to 60-56 degrees, bringing a well needed break from the daily sweat.

She was seating in front of me, although she wasn’t there. The memories of her face and body slowly dissolving as time goes on, like a gentle friend who let bad news set in while waiting patiently by the side in case of being needed to bring a long and warm hug.

Logic and passion at war once more. She left without saying goodbye; without saying a word. It was the best thing to do for both of us, logic reminds me as my main adviser. But passion, crawling inside from my heart to my brain, like a gentle but deadly disease, entertains itself in keeping the memories alive. So I miss her.

Her face becomes blurry in my mind as time accumulates between today and the day she left. Just a few pictures remain on duty to refresh my memories of those days, but every time I see them she looks more and more as a stranger that one day I met. I guess time will come when the image of her in those pictures will mean nothing more than a loose memory of a distant past that I will struggle to recall.

Dancing Ghost.

A tired heart that felt young again by just spending time talking by the lake. The hard beating was there once again. Her spirit dancing in front of me while she was seating without moving, other than her hands gesticulating to support the intensity in the meaning of her words. Her sweet voice was music and her beautiful face was a fresh paint. She was art. But like art, you can buy it; you can borrow it; but you never own it, because art is free by nature. She had to go, I know.

Seating in front of the computer in a Sunday early morning I can hear the sounds from the swamp cooler bringing fresh and cool air to the room while I try to concentrate in writing, yet memories assault my brain and for a brief second the Dancing Ghost was there, while she was seating in front of me with her beautiful smile and piercing eyes looking back, to sting my heart with a bit of the past, to requiem a time that I guess it really never was.

Raul

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Family Reunion

2016-07-25  Family Reunion (1)

 

In the previous post I was talking about the Indy 500 and the amount of trash that is generated in that kind of events; these days I’ve had the same situation of huge amounts of trash being generated, but now while in my own house!

A brothers and sisters reunion that turned into a whole family reunion, Italian style, has been occurring at my house for the past several days. We are not Italians, but this reunion did congregate three generations of our family, all at my house for a couple of times. Although we are a small family (15 total for 3 generations), for the same reason we are used to live in a sort of isolation as a family. It’s been just three of us for the past 20 years and suddenly we became a lot of people in the same room, including grandmas to grand kids; the first talking and eating and drinking, while the last running and screaming and creating a mess with toys spread all over.

While we normally generate about half trash can a week, every single day it’s been a whole trash can! That’s times 14! (X 14). But we are normally 3, and now we can be a total of 15, so that’s only X 5, and about 5 of them are staying at a hotel and only show up during the day, so that reduces the number to about X 3, so how comes so much trash is generated?

At one hand, in order to simplify things, we’ve been using only disposable plates, so that’s a reason for some of the extra trash. Another thing is the amount of food that is dumped every day. Plates served and consumed only half way go to the trash with the remaining food in them. We never did that before, but in this reunion we had the chance to see how it happens in other families (my family!). That could account for X 3 or maybe X 4, but still it is a mystery to me how it does come to X 14!

It seems a good amount of trash is composed also by toys that get disposed of without noticing by the young parents in this family. New toys arrive every day, and it seems some parts of the old (one or two days old) go to the trash by accident, keeping automatically a sort of “balance” in the amount of toys owned by the very young kinds (2 to 4 years old). And these accidental disposal of toys occurs because of the complete mess that exist in a room where very young kids play, without parents teaching any organization skills.

Not surprisingly, parents show also this complete lack of organizational skills, among others, the apparent syndrome of not being able to stand a piece of empty surface. As soon as a small surface like a table or shelf shows empty, they have to place something there! It can be a purse; the car keys; a small blanket; kids shoes; kids toys; kids food, etc.

Then the amount of electronic devices like tablets; phones; game players, and their corresponding wall chargers. It is kind of unbelievable to me the amount of electronic devices per person my family carry.

So it seems a combination of owning too much stuff; acquiring more every day; not being able to keep things organized, and the chronic lack of planning, all together lead to the continual disposal of toys; food; disposable plates and tons of wrapping paper every day into the trash cans. No wonder why the generation of trash has been the most remarkable part in this family reunion. Oh, and empty bottles of wine and beer too!

It is so strange to look down and see the floor permanently dirty; look around and see so much stuff occupying every possible surface, and a huge number of people (for us) talking and laughing while my son and I are seating somewhere observing this truly alien landscape for us. We are Aspies, remember?

And that is the whole thing. What is normal and desirable by most people, like meeting in big numbers and talk; drink; eat; make noise and take the place as their own, for us Aspies (my son and me), quietness and organization are elements we are accustomed to. So I guess what I can see in my house these days is what happens in those public events, only in bigger numbers like from 15 to 100,000, which obviously has to imply a huge amount of consumption and trash being generated.

Funny though, I have now the opportunity to observe like a small cell of a giant creature, in order to better discover the origins and reasons for its characteristic behavior.

Raul

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High Planes versus Indy 500

2016-07-21  High Planes versus Indy 500 (1)

In the previous post I mentioned the racetrack we have here close to Denver, and how races are held there. In this post I want to mention the main differences I found between the High Planes Raceway and the Indy 500.

Obviously there are many, and in many instances they simply cannot be compared. But one of the things that caught my attention is the difference in the “attitude” these two races have.

For instance, while at the High Planes the concept is for racers to go there and get the best result they can, independently of spectators; and even more, they simply don’t care about spectators and it seems they would prefer there would be none, at Indy 500 the assisting public constitute the main element of the day. At the High Planes is about the races, with just one or two people watching; at Indy 500 is about the people, with a race somewhere in the day’s program.

USP INDYCAR: INDIANAPOLIS 500 S CAR USA IN

While at the High Planes you can freely walk around the race cars and take pictures, and even talk to the drivers and mechanics, at the Indy 500 you can walk freely around concession stands and buy different kinds of foods and memorabilia. The race is just an excuse to promote products that fight each other to be the “official” product of the race, and even celebrities move around to be seen and promote themselves to the assisting people. In other words, the race becomes a products and artists promoting event.

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Unless you have a lot of money to spend in one day, at the Indy 500 you may assist to the event but still have to watch the drivers on the big screens. Sure, you can watch the cars live while they are racing, but at a long, long distance from where your seat is. The only way to see the drivers up close; have the chance to talk with them (very briefly); ask for an autograph; see the race cars; and watch the race from a relatively close distance, is to spend thousands of dollars!

And that’s my point. The Indy 500 is a people’s event, not a race. Those who go there in the majority are not race fans; they are party goers. Obviously there are always a few number of spectators who are effectively race fans, but they are just a very small minority. The point of the Indy 500 is the whole day’s party…not the race! And you can see that reflected in the huge number of stands selling all kinds of foods and beverages in big amounts, just like those selling T shirts; hats; stickers; rings, you name it, and also in huge quantities.

No wonder why there is so much trash left behind! It is a reflection of all the “consumption” that happens and is expected in that event. The idea is to create a spectacle that would last most of the day, so to have more time to sell more; and the “excuse” for this event is a race.

I know some people might think, “but the Indy 500 is a traditional race!”. Yes it is, but to hold this traditional race there is no need to create a whole spectacle for most of the day, and definitely there is no need to sell so much food and stuff. The Indy 500 may be a traditional race, but it’s commercialization simply reached a point where the race is just and add-on to the event, and the most important part definitely has become the selling of food and stuff and the promoting of products and celebrities.

Let’s face it, if one day the organization notify to the spectators in the grand stands that the Indy 500 race will be postponed to the next day and people can come back the next day and get in free by using the same ticket they have now, and that anyway they will have a, let’s say, a lower category car race the original day; do you think people would restrain from consuming food and buying memorabilia for the Indy 500? All because they will come back the next day for the race? Or might they feel lucky that they can have two days of fun rather than one, all for the same ticket price? And if they stay and watch the lower category race and consume food and drinks; will they come back the next day just to watch the race, but restrain themselves from buying food and drinks because they already consumed the day before?

That would be a super business for the organization! I believe the only reason they don’t do it is because the facilities would be a mess for the second day, so they prefer instead to just pack all they can in one day, to make people consume the most possible in that long day, and reserve the two days show for when rain prevents from racing on Sunday.

And then the trash. Gee! I’ve never seen so much trash together! It seems nobody taught these people to collect their trash in a bag and throw it away in their way out. It could be so easy if the organization placed those big rolloff containers in every exit, so people just toss their bags with trash there. But I guess even if those big rolloff containers were there, people still would leave their trash on the floor where they were standing. It’s a culture thing, and the images after the event shows the level of culture of the assisting people. I’m sorry to say that, but what else can I say with those images?

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Then at the other hand you have the High Planes races, where there is no business in selling food (except for the “burritos” truck) and no memorabilia, but instead it is all about watching races and learning about the race cars. It is an event for true race fans. There are some trash containers around and there is no trash left on the floor. The few spectators that go there go to watch the races, not to “consume”, so there is no trash left behind.

There are enough races for the afternoon, while in the morning is the classifications, so still it’s a whole day event. Going at 9am in the morning and walking around the cars being prepared; talking to the mechanics and pilots and watching classifications; to then have lunch at the “burritos” truck, and spending the afternoon watching the actual races you can have fun until around 6pm. It is also a whole day event, but only about races, not about artists; products; and/or any kind of commercialization and indoctrination.

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Another element that shows how the Indy 500 has been turned into a “Show” rather than a “Race” is the ceremonies with the winner at the end of the race. At the High Planes there are trophies and a podium, but you can see in the pictures below how simple and straight to the point it is. No fancy stuff and no show involved; just the giving of the trophies; a quick interview from a local radio or TV station and the applause of the other racers; mechanics, and the very few spectators that can also stand watching from a 10 feet distance for no extra fees.

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At the other hand, at the Indy 500, the winner was interviewed for about 30 minutes by different TV stations; given a ride in a convertible all around the track while the announcer was asking for applause to the people in the different curves of the track, resembling a TV show about contestants; prizes and music, rather than a sports events. And then spent another 30 minutes with the driver kissing the bricks a hundred times, so they could be photographed and recorded on video from different angles. Funny, if you had put Dishdashas to the drivers, it would have looked like Muslims praying; something many people in this country fear! And they were doing the bending and kissing so many times, it lost all the meaning!

2016 IndyCar Indy 500 Race

No wonder why I personally felt so comfortable at the High Planes, worried about what cars and categories were racing and watching them how they negotiated the track, rather than trying to dodge people carrying huge coolers and bags full of stuff. The High Planes races are about racing; so for pilots, mechanics, teams and race fans it is a straight to the point event. There is no show, products, selling and/or promoting…and no trash! Just racing.

I am a racing fan, and the Indy 500 didn’t seem like a race but rather an excuse to sell, giving me just a small taste of racing somewhere in between the whole day program. I do appreciate the race at the Indy 500. I believe it is a very tough race and a “classic” race by it’s own merits, but I disagree with the commercialization the organization have done to the extreme point it has been taken; and the use of such distinguished race to make indoctrination of people while taking their money with tons of products and food. The honorable Indy 500 has been turned into a “Superstar” that sells; and the majority of people going there are mostly party goers that consume and leave their trash behind after partying all day. Oh!..and there is a race too!

Raul

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High Planes Raceway

2016-07-11  High Planes Raceway (1)

 

A couple of days ago my son and I went to watch the races at the High Planes Raceway. It was a birthday gift from my son.

This is a racetrack we have close to Denver (about 40 miles). They host races for different categories, mostly local, but also some calendar races for some categories that compete inter-state.

The weather was fine with a hot day in the 90’s but partially cloudy, which made the heat more bearable. There was a mix of categories that day, with some local races and some calendar ones. This meant there were all kind of race cars with different shapes and characteristics. From the simplest three door coupes with just a roll bar inside and some missing interior parts to reduce weight, to the nicely cigar shapes open wheel types.

 

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Since this is a race facility with no public facilities, meaning by that just a couple of small seating places and a truck selling burritos and sodas, it was just the racers and their equipment, and maybe a grand total of no more than 10 spectators, including my son and I. No wonder why the cost to get in to watch the races is only $10 per person, and the lady at the gate was happy to accept a two-for-one coupon my son printed from the internet. So we got in for a total of $ 10; five dollars each.

And it was great! With my son we had the opportunity to walk around the “pit lane” (parking area) and see the race cars up close, and even take pictures. We also had the chance to talk with the pilots and ask for autographs, but we both are Aspies, so we have an internal brain construction that prevents us from initiating human conversation. We didn’t talk to anybody! Well, we did have a short human contact when a lady standing close to us in one of the races suddenly started complaining and cursing car number 10 very out loud. Then she turned to us and told us she was going to kick that pilot’s butt for closing and pushing back her husband when he was attempting to pass him on track (car number 10). It was a fun moment!

Having the chance to walk around and watch the races from different points; being able to see the cars up close and take pictures; even spending some time analyzing the engines and construction of different cars while watching them at a distance of no more than three feet from the car, it just couldn’t get any better!!

 

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We spent about four hours there with my son; we watch four races; we saw so many different race cars up close; and best of all, it was a very nice time spent with my son! We both love racing and we follow and watch different categories from the TV transmissions, so it is very enjoyable for me to spend time with my son watching races, and this time we had the chance to go together to see them live. They call it “quality time” when you spend time with your son; I call it enjoyable times!

All in all it was a very pleasant surprise to discover they have a racetrack here in Denver, and that they do have several calendar races throughout the year. I have the feeling my son and I will be going to these races very often.

In the next post I’ll make a comparison between this track and races with what I could perceive from Indy 500. Then I’ll explain you why my impression from the Indy 500 wasn’t really favorable.

Raul

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Simple Engines

2016-07-14  Simple Engines (1)

 

In the previous post I mentioned how a modern engine operates using sensors to detect the specific conditions of the moment and feed the engine computer with the information, so the computer can take the proper decisions on how much fuel; for how long; how much spark advance, etc, all of these with the intention of obtaining a higher efficiency in extracting the maximum power from the engine, with the least amount of fuel consumed.

It works. Modern engines are a lot more efficient compared to equal size engines from the 50’s and 60’s, when computers weren’t still integrated in the operating configuration of an engine.

At the other hand, those old and simple engines used to be easier to fix by a mechanically inclined driver, and although they used to fail more often than now, they were easy to repair on the go. This implies a big change in society and how it works, and more especially in how people used to think and live.

You can see how different look under the hood when you compare the picture at the top, which is obviously a modern engine, and the picture below, of an old vehicle with the same size engine.

 

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While at the previous post (Loop Mode) the modern way an engine operates is explained, and how things change when something like a sensor stops working properly occurs and a comparison with people’s behavior is given, I believe it is also possible to see a parallel between how a simple, old engine works and people’s behavior used to have at that time.

A simple engine had a more straightforward way of operation, although a less efficient one. It was easy to see the components and their participation in the process, and when some of those components stopped working properly, thus making the engine run erratically or simply stops running. It was easy to see the problem and it’s solution. Since there were no sensors and no computer, there wasn’t also a Check Engine light. If a component failed, there was no keep running in emergency mode and a warning of coming repairs for the driver; it simply stopped running and that was the warning!

By having a lot less elements at play, each element used to have a bigger play in the whole. It was easier to check with simple tools the condition of the few components, and the checks were more in the “works/doesn’t work” area. In the same way, people’s lives use to have less elements to deal with, and those few elements were more in the “have it/don’t have it” situations.

 

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While in modern engines there are more elements at play and they have to be tested for operation with especial equipment since it is no longer about just works/doesn’t work, but it depends on ranges now, people’s lives also have more elements to deal with, like cell phones, internet providers, TV providers, gym time; movies; dating, etc, and more than just have it/don’t have it; it is now more about what kind, brand and quality, and also in what range of efficiency and coverage. Like modern engines depend on more elements to obtain a more efficient functioning, modern people’s lives also have become more complex in order to have access to a more efficient life.

But not just that, at a bigger scale, the number of people participating in a working and social configuration also has increased and with it, the complexity of interactions has changed. While before you could have older and newer elements working together in a simple system, today the quick replacement of elements at the first doubt has become the norm, and this in part due to the specialization of every component, which also makes them cheaper to replace; people and automotive parts.

Maybe because of all these, it is no strange that before engine used to run at a slower pace and with less efficiency, yet were easier to fix with the knowledge of a mechanic alone, and at the same time people had a slow pace life that was helped with the knowledge of a friend or a single doctor. And even though today’s engines can run smoother, more efficiently and with more predictability, they do need more complex tests and the use of specialized shops for the different areas of the car, just like modern people can do more nowadays, but require the help of more specialists in the different areas of the human body.

 

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Simple engines in the past reflected simple lives in people. Today’s complex engines reflect complex lives in modern people. Each one got their own advantages and problems, so it is not to say before was better or today is better, but rather more a matter of personal preferences. Every generation have advantages to enjoy and problems to deal with, don’t you think?

 

Raul

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