Rob, this post's for you. Or because of you.
- You saw the movie Take The Lead, didn't you, the one starring Antonio Banderas as a dance instructor who volunteers to teach ballroom dancing to some at-risk high school students and ends up making a big difference in their lives? That could never actually happen, could it, at least not in a relative backwater like, say, Odessa?
- Oh, look...another dragonfly picture! Click to, as they say, embiggen.
- The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is considering requiring gas drillers to disclose the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing. The story is also getting a lot of attention in local media, print and broadcast. The industry is pushing back, citing competitive confidentiality concerns. This is one area where the drillers would be wise to give in. There's so much misguided hysteria about fracing as it is (including how to spell the word, which is surpassed only by "blogging" in terms of unwieldiness), and secrecy about what's being pumped into the ground just exacerbates the problem. People are justifiably protective of their water supplies.
Disclosing the ingredients doesn't mean that you have to give the recipe (and the Administration would be wise not to press for that). The downside, of course, is that while there has never been a single documented case of hydraulic fracturing contaminating an underground source of drinking water, the disclosure that some of the chemicals used in the process aren't exactly potable will lead to further hysteria.
- However, if you're curious about the generic makeup of frac fluid, here's a PDF provided by Energy In Depth that gives an easy to understand breakout. Or, if you don't trust an industry advocate website, download this PDF from the U.S. Department of Energy and scroll to page 63. Heck, you can even get some specific frac "recipes" via this PDF provided by industry regulators in Pennsylvania, where a huge amount of hydraulic fracturing is now taking place. This document shows how each service company concocts its "secret sauce" for injecting into the producing formation. (This reporting to the state would seem to defuse industry arguments about protecting proprietary information.)
- I'm sure there are any number of good reasons not to live in West Texas, but the fear of natural disasters is not one of them. I've often thought that our neck of the, uh, desert should be in its own homeowners insurance pool, separate from the rest of the state, because other than the occasional dust storm, and some hail every few years, we simply don't live in fear of what Mother Nature might have up her sleeve. And this website supports my contention. (Link via the staggeringly prolific Neatorama)
- One thing I like about high school football games is how quickly they proceed. There are no TV timeouts, no referee reviews, and usually not a lot of passing plays. Football is an awfully inefficient game when you consider how much actual action occurs during its official 60 minutes and its actual 3+ hours at the college and pro level. In fact, researchers have determined that in the average pro football game, the ball is in play for only 11 minutes. But, guess what? That's still more than 100 times the lifespan of a rifle barrel. Yep, according to more of those industrious researchers, a gun barrel has a bullet going through it for a total of only about 6 seconds during its life (measured in terms of accuracy). (Rifle barrel link via - you guessed it - Neatorama; football link discovered through my own exhaustive research)