The Return of Sam the Space Dog

By Jeffrey the Barak In 2016, Sam the Space Dog, a lovable little stuffed animal, rode a balloon into space, reaching an altitude of 25 kilometers. He was the hero of a lot of British schoolchildren who excitedly watched the fascinating high definition video transmission from their little buddy’s adventure. Alas, upon his descent something…

Are we building the wrong way?

By Jeffrey the Barak Most Westerners live in one of two types of house. Either it is masonry, solid, strong, but not much good in an earthquake, or they are in a wood-frame cage with the gaps filled in with drywall and stucco. High rise dwellers may instead be in a steel cage with concrete…

I used to be Hawai’i

By Jeffrey the Barak __ I used to be Hawai’i I am the Detroit Tablemount. I am two and a half thousand meters under the sea. To my East is the West, Attu Island, the edge of the USA. To my North is the East. Ostrov Mednyy, the edge of Russia I used to be…

The alleys turn to dust

By Jeffrey the Barak. When a city or a state runs out of money, it takes longer for potholes to be fixed in the roadway. It takes even longer for sidewalks to be repaired, despite their upheaval due to short-sighted tree planting decades ago. But far behind on the priorities, are the service alleys. Behind…

What is in that dust?

By Jeffrey the Barak As usual, I spent a few minutes today playing with my trusty vacuum cleaner and also a Swiffer duster. And as usual, the vacuum and the duster each had plenty of dust to pick up. Sometimes I cannot see dust without putting on my eyeglasses, but that’s another problem altogether. So…

Lahaina Noon in Hawai’i

By Jeffrey the Barak The State of Hawai’i is the only place in the United States in which you can lose your shadow, outside, in the middle of the day. when there are no clouds. In Hawai’i this is known as Lahaina Noon and it happens twice a year, but on different dates, depending where…

End of the Uh-Oh’s

I wonder if we will call this coming year twenty-ten or the more cumbersome two thousand and ten. I think we should have called 2001 twenty-o-one, just like they did in nineteen-o-one and eighteen-o-one. Personally I will from this day make that change, and no longer refer to twenty-o-four, as two-thousand and four. And what…

Los Angeles, what are we standing on?

By Jeffrey the Barak Geologists would say that the Los Angeles Basin is like a huge bowl of sand The geologic center for the Los Angeles Basin is the place where the Los Angeles River and the river known as Rio Hondo merge in South Gate. At this central point, sand, silt, clay and other…

The hazards of imagining countries

By Jeffrey the Barak Nomadic tribes move independently of each other and occasionally come together to interact through trade, war, sport, cultural exchange, intermarriage, murder etc. In the dense jungles of South America and Africa and Asia, the boundaries formed by geographical features such as ridges and valleys are all it takes to keep two…

Before you celebrate new year….

Just a reminder that even though we all love our hours, minutes, seconds, months, weeks and centuries, none of them are real. One year is real, but it does not necessarily start on January 1st. It’s just one whole orbit around the sun. One day is real, but it does not necessarily start at midnight….

The Green Shave

By Jeffrey the Barak How would you like to spread Napalm on your face while releasing questionable propellants into the ozone layer, and then put a stack of eternal plastic into a landfill? Doesn’t sound like something you’d want to do does it? And yet if you use aerosol shaving gel, it contains the very…

The least continental place

By Jeffrey the Barak Nake Islet, part of Millenium Island, formerly known as Caroline Island, now in the Republic of Kiribati, is the closest point of land I could find after moving the Google Earth globe around to a spot that showed the least land. The only significant continental land visible at the edges of this hemisphere…