Casa Grande

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MLK Day Monday January 16, 2012

Met up with Lucy’s sister Lorane and her friend Sam staying at the Pinal County Fairgrounds near Casa Grande. We signed up to stay for 3 days at $20 a day. We have water and power and they have a dump station close by. It’s just a big dirt and gravel parking lot, but for now it is home.

I worked today and arranged to have some plans printed and UPS’ed to me so we will be staying through Wed at least. If the plans arrive early in the day, we will leave here Wed.

Lucy and Lorane went to town for a pedicure and a manicure, but that was the most exciting thing that happened today.

I tried to honor MLK today by reading and reflecting upon a couple of his sermons. That was both enjoyable and enervating for me. Having experienced that period of history while living in Kentucky, I can see and applaud the great strides we have made in eliminating prejudice and social injustice. Unfortunately I can also see that we have a long way to go before we can truly say that those things are relegated to history. On any given day I witness prejudice against people of different races, religions, or lifestyle choices. People often say or do things that they do not even recognize as predudice. I am ashamed to say that I occassionally catch myself having unkind thoughts toward people for unfair reasons. This is not a political blog so I will not go into any detail here.

Tuesday January 17 2012

Today we visited one of the most interesting and fascinating places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. We took a tour of a place called BioSphere 2. You may have heard of it as a failed experiment back in the eighties. The idea was to build an enclosed environment that was totally self sufficient in every way and see if people could survive with no outside interference or help. They had a few problems with food production and personality clashes, but they did prove that it could be done. The experiment was flawed in that it did not incorporate enough variation in the people involved. There was no farmer included even though they were expected to produce their own food. All of the participants were research scientists and we all know how well scientists get along. They did not starve, but they relied too heavily on food that they brought with them. They lacked good farming technology and enough people capable of maintaining a farm. So in effect, that part of the experiment failed, but for easily identifiable reasons.

So after a couple of years they were left with a $130,000,000 structure which turned out to be a great place for environmental reasearch. It was a place where you could create your own environment and then change it to observe the effects changes have on our world. They have created a rain forest, a savanna, a desert, and ocean environments. Many scientists from around the world associate themselves with Uniiversity of Arizona for the opportunity to use the facility for research.

Although I was intrigued by the life sciences aspect of this tour, I was absolutely blown away by the engineering involved in designing this facility. As you can see by the photos, this is a giant glass structure and the structural genius ivolved in making it sound is amazing. More than that, the mechanical methods used to move air, recycle it, and keep the pressure constant and evenly distributed are just mind boggling. They created two giant rubber coated stainless steel encased lungs connected to the main structure via tunnels. As the temperature variations in this giant, completely enclosed greenhouse expanded or contracted, the air was forced through the tunnels one way or another and the lungs expaned or contracted to keep the pressure constant. The air is conditioned, or heated strictly by water movements. There are no chemicals allowed, such as freon. They call this underground area the Techno-Shere. Of course the problem of how to produce oxygen and eliminate carbon dioxide without relying on outside sources was easy, lots of plants. Plants from all over the world, which were native to the various environments.

One of the big areas of research is the effects that climate change will have on our world over the next hundred years or so. I don’t want to get political about this, but to those who poo poo the whole idea of climate change I have to ask. If the overwhelming majority of scientists are wrong and the climate is not changing, what have we lost by trying to be cautious? How much should we be willing to risk to assure that the grandchildren of our grandchildren will be able to live on as beautiful and hospitable a planet as we enjoy. If the scientists are wrong, we are out a bit of money. If you are wrong, your decendats will be gasping for air and fighting to find clean water and uncontaminated food.

Wednesday January 18 2012

A relatively uneventful day. Breakfast at IHOP. I did a little work on a project, Lucy did laundry and some shopping. Just got word that my plans have been delivered, but it is late in the day so we will spend one more night here. Wondering now about dinner plans. Considering the possibility of partaking in an adult beverage or two. Looking forward to heading out in the morning to explore more of southern Arizona. Hoping to end up at some lower elevations by tomorrow night. The evenings and nights in this high desert are quite cold. I am not following the sun for the sake of light. I want heat! I need heat! I know it is January but this is getting annoying! Help me Arizona!

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