Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Rex Tillerson situation, other energy Update

Curious news from the energy sector today, which is why I'm making another post on the same day here. The CEO of Exxon-Mobile doesn't want the fracking well near HIS yard. All hail the mightiest NIMBY of the planet.  What the frak?

(Please excuse the nod to Battlestar Galactica fans, heh)

Yeah, the business of energy is dirty, and everybody's acting surprised, even when Duke Energy was involved in a bottom ash spill.  Yeah, I know that nobody called that stuff "bottom ash", but I do because I used to be a power plant employee and know the difference between fly ash and bottom ash.  Fly ash is what gets scrubbed from the smoke stack and is highly acidic.  Bottom ash comes from rendered slag mixed with water in a slag crusher, then is flumed out to a holding pond.  Every coal fired power plant does it and has done it ever since nationwide electrification has taken place.

And y'all act like you were born just yesterday.  Pffft.  Cry me a river--y'all get outraged over an ash spill and don't even ask where the water that got it there went to, or what that water has been contaminating over the years. I don't hear all the proponents of solar-electric panels whining about where the wastewater generated from THAT manufacturing process goes to, or what THAT wastewater is contaminating either. You guys can cry me a river, too.

There are two basic types of coal-fired boiler designs: recirculation (drum), and once-through.  Those terms refer to how the water circulates inside the boiler, and that stuff has hydrazine in it. Great for the recirc boiler--but where does it go once it's been through a once-through boiler, hmm?  Nobody has ever screamed about that.

Yeah, natural gas is "cleaner" as a final product, as are solar-voltaic panels...ah, but when you consider how they're produced, and the water that's used and therefore contaminated in the process of producing these things, it's a whole 'nother ballgame.

Well, friends n neighbors, brace yourself for a power generation tutorial in this post as soon as I put my mitts on my old boiler which I'll add some stuff about semiconductor manufacturing, which is what I did at Motorola after I left Illinois Power Company.  Stay tuned.

First I'm going to begin with silicon technology, with a show-n-tell I did for a speech class at Arizona State in the engineering program.  Current solar panels are made from silicon processed thus:

All silicon integrated circuit chips are born this way, in a furnace, that grows an ingot of silicon in which the silicon molecules are aligned in crystalline form because the lattice structure of the crystal is crucial.  The seed is already in proper lattice form, and this is dipped into molten silicon contained in a quartz vat. It is then very slowly withdrawn with the molten silicon attached and the molten silicon attains the desired lattice structure of the seed. It takes several hours to draw up a full ingot.  

When the ingot is fully grown, it is removed from the furnace and separated from the seed, and then is sent to be x-rayed to establish the exact orientation of the lattice.  Once the lattice orientation is established, the ingot is ground down on one side to produce a flat. Some ingots have one major flat; some get a major and a minor flat ground into it, and when the ingot is sliced into wafers, they look something like the following illustration, but they don't have that grid on it yet:

The grid you see here is the result of growing more silicon (epitaxial layers) on top of the original wafer (substrate), but that part of the story is getting ahead of things at the moment. Consider how the manufacturing equipment needs to be cleaned between one ingot and another.  Soap and water doesn't cut this stuff.  Hydrofluoric acid and straight chlorine gas are used to etch the quartz clean, and both are highly fatal to the human being upon immediate exposure.  Straight chlorine rips your lungs and skin to pieces, while hydrofluoric acid penetrates your skin and attacks your bones.  Sweet, huh.

Pure silicon is electrically an insulator.  To turn it into a semiconductor, you need to "dope" it with some other nasty stuff. Whether N type or P type, the subsequent epitaxial layers are doped alternating substances, and a solar cell is more like a diode (2-layer).  One of those dopants is arsenic. For those folks who can handle engineering-level information, here's a link to a more detailed description.

But I was raising an issue about contaminated water, wasn't I.  First, when the ingot is sawed into wafers, all that poisonous doped silicon dust gets washed off as a slurry--so, where does that get disposed of?  And here's where the grid comes into the picture.  After each epitaxial layer on a wafer, a circuit is photographed onto the layer, developed with more chemicals, etched in more acid, and then cleaned with water.  And then run through a dicing saw, which uses more water.  What's in the water in the first case are photochemical pollution, and in the second case, all the nasty dopants plus silicon of the wafer as the saw creates curfs in the dicing operation, as more slurry.  And to think nobody ever asks how that water is disposed of while they're moaning about one single ash spill.  Please.

The following illustration is of a lead frame that has pads upon which each die is mounted, and then a wire bonder stitches the ports on each die to each of the leads on the frame...which then runs through a plastic molder which creates the encapsulation of the die, and then run through a stamper which cuts the package from the frame and bends the leads to become the contact pins of the package.

 ...for the skeptics who still don't believe I'm more science than liberal arts, despite my beginnings in the liberal arts at's an artifact from my own history, circa 1988, 1989...

The following is a flow diagram of a Westinghouse once-through boiler that drove a 600 megawatt turbine, and it looks like it's supposed to be a closed loop until you look at it closer and notice that the only thing that gets recirculated is the condensate...

You can more clearly see that I wasn't fibbing about the hydrazine injection. That's real rocket fuel in them thar boiler tubes.  It's in there to "getter" the extra dissolved oxygen out of the system; whatever oxygen there may be in the system necessarily has to be attached two atoms to every hydrogen atom and no more, or the boiler tubes will rapidly corrode via oxidation under such heat, not to mention the turbine blades. Issues with the turbine blades is why silica content of the water is important--its buildup on the blades can cause imbalance in operation.

The (treated) lake water comes in at the boiler feed pump on the left and exits via a flume back into the lake--and people fish in that lake, including the power plant employees on graveyard shift because nobody superior is looking and the game warden's gone home.  "LP Heater" = Low Pressure Heater, and HP is high pressure.  In basic physics, water holds more heat the higher the pressure it's under, which is why you have LP and HP, and it's the HP that feeds the superheater.  Only when the water is superheated into superheated steam does it get to pass through the blades of a turbine, and it's hell when there's a superheated steam leak inside the turbine housing.  It's invisible, and you could walk into it without a single clue that it's even there.

There's another turbine hazard, just below the shaft: hydrogen gas. And to think y'all thought that electricity was just as easy as plugging sumpin into da wall.

Next is a diagram of the air flow through the Westinghouse once-through. Notice the smoke stack, and the fan ductwork leading to the smoke stack. The bottom part is an ID fan (4) (Induction Draft, because of the direction of the draw on the furnace, not the stack--the other kind is the FD, or Forced Draft; this furnace is also known as a Universal Pressure--UP--boiler because of the fan arrangement). Notice the 90 degree drop-down to ID fan (4), then notice the box with two hoppers underneath it.  Those are the fly ash precipitators, where the fly ash is collected and disposed of, NOT in a pond.

Now take notice of item number 12...

Item 12 is where the furnace's firebox connects to the slag tank, which is full of water and into which hot coal slag drops to get crushed and then pumped out to the pond.  Every stinkin' coal-fired power plant in the country disposes of bottom ash this way, so don't expect me to get teary-eyed over one oopsie in North Carolina. Bottom ash toxic? Try sulfur-rich fly ash on for size if you think it's a problem.  Working around precipitators in the heat of the summer means that your sweat turns into battery acid.  Been there, done that.

Sure, the precip hoppers are automated, but when the controls break because of the harsh environment, take a wild guess who gets to fix 'em or replace 'em. The bulk of the fly ash is collected there, and the rest is collected in the stack scrubber. (Note to George--you can see how I got comfortable with climbing radio towers: climbing 12 1/2 storeys of boilers, sharing that rarified air with all them damn pigeons.)


I wasn't entirely sure about who to credit for the materials provided on the topic of the Westinghouse generating unit, but now I know--it's the defunct company of boilermakers, Babcock & Wilcox.The boiler wasn't made by Westinghouse but it was made to Westinghouse specifications, while Westinghouse concerned itself primarily with the design of the electrical generation (turbine) end of things.  Babcock & Wilcox specialty is boiler engineering; it's Leeds & Northrup's specialty to provide various digital/analog/hydraulic/pneumatic controls which interface to a control computer.  It's the specialty of Bailey Controls to control start-up, shut-down, and continuous combustion control, and so on.

The following is a simplified block diagram of the major systems involved in boiler operation; it should be noted that this book contains a rather interesting account of the history of steam technology beginning with Hero's steam engine.

Ummm...I suppose that I should explain that I'm a consummate doodler, and I still play with crayons.

The next few pages constitute the official key to the numbers in the previously posted illustration of the boiler...

To explain a cyclone further--there are multiple cyclones and the term is descriptive of how powdered coal dust is carbureted and combusted as it swirls.  Man, you should see the coal pulverizers that make that stuff, which is still abrasive and will cause coal chute fires when the walls get too thin from the abrasion. Yeah--this was a fun job.  As a matter of fact, compared to Motorola, I still like it better.  I jumped from a job that was too dirty to a job that was too clean and wound up missing the dirty one.  If Motorola hadn't made a better job offer, I would have stuck with the power plant.  Seriously.

The following summarizes basic boiler construction:

Next, the explanation as to why hydrazine is used in the boiler's circulating water:

Heh--we now pause for a break to consider a meme now making the rounds on Facebook.  No fan of God over here, but the sentiment is certainly shared because I've got awesome friends:

Found another good one...

Finally, here's a boilermaker's technical take on slag, bottom ash, and fly ash:

...well...thus, the discussion gets even more painfully arcane, and so at this point, I'll leave it at that, except to say this--with gas, you get water pollution problems; with solar-voltaic, you get water pollution problems; with nuclear, you get Fukushima/Daiichi-sized epic water pollution problems; with traditional coal-fired plants, you have always had water pollution problems that you've ignored until recently.  What it boils down to, so to speak, is.....................
                       ..................pick your poison.

Thank you, Daily Kos & Greenpeace Africa, for the next graphic--

SATURDAY MINI-UPDATE: A mini article of interest regarding a vote by the PEGASYS board to dissolve itself, which makes mention of the court case previously mentioned elsewhere in this blog, and missing any mention of the amicus curiae, which mentioned the Oklahoma Attorney General.

 Something to worry about? Well, another article says that the AG is paying closer attention to goings-on in Enid, indicating that the best is yet to come...

A certain timelord we all know is famous not only for his travels in time/space, but also saving the universe. He's always been the man with a plan.  Well, every once in a while it befalls the lot of a human time traveler to save the human universe.  I guess it's my turn because of the plan. ;)

Oh, it's not that I think I can save this particular universe; it's yet another case where I've gotta do it, or die trying, and like the fictional Clara Oswald, I've already died a number of times.  What's one more time?

For the green thumbs and those who want them

My track record over the years has been to talk about gardening in mid-February.  If you're a green thumb with a track record, you already know to start your long season vegetables indoors on Valentine's Day.  You also already know that St. Patrick's Day is the benchmark for planting peas outside.

In any other year, I would have been already harvesting lettuces, spinach, and herbs. Yeah, this year has been quite an anomaly on a number of levels.  I didn't have a winter garden this year, nor a summer garden last year, due to an injury which precluded digging.  This year looks like it'll get off to a late start, although any spinach planted in fall will sprout and grow as soon as there's a thaw, and a subsequent freeze won't cause damage; if you have those covered with plastic, they'll remain pickable in spite of a freeze, too.  I am instead going to talk about time-tested techniques instead of current ones, using past pictures instead of current ones.

Veggie gardening season here begins in the autumn, when old compost gets turned over and, after the autumn cleanup of old growing patches, gets distributed over those patches which then get seeded for over-winter crops like the aforementioned lettuces, spinach, scallions, and such.  There will be one patch that had been thus prepared in late summer, where beet seeds have already been started near the patches I've planned for over winter, as those will continue to grow over winter, too, if I can keep those infernal rabbits out.  Squirrels around here are pretty bad, too--they're never happy with all the feral pecan trees around, they always have to have more and will even wage wars over the resources.

I'll have laid out a few rectangles, all of which would be surrounded by 2 rows of water-filled 2-litre soda bottles (not too full--don't want them to split when they freeze), and then adorned the north edge of those with a string of Christmas lights.  The deteriorated garden hose of the previous year gets redeployed as an irrigation system, because leaks in this case are desirable.  Yes, there are tricks to watering an enclosed cold-frame patch even in winter...anyhoo, those patches finally get covered by heavy clear plastic tarps and with the lights on and irrigation going, stuff is ready to pick by late February.

People who get gardening catalogs know about the gizmo called "wall-o-water", usually sold for use around tomato seedlings that are planted out in the yard earlier than they're supposed to be; the water-filled pop-bottles perform the same function, but with gusto.  When it's 10 degrees F outside, the outside wall will freeze solid but the inner wall will remain liquid, thus controlling the lower temperature limit inside both walls, with the help of the Christmas lights.  I have successfully wintered over autumn peas without the lights altogether.

Now back to the starting of long-season seeds indoors in mid-February.  Typically, those would be tomatoes and peppers, and too many people expect a good many of them to "damp off" and die before spring.  Here's what you do to  avoid that: do NOT water your seedlings with tap water, and do NOT over-water them.  Let the  soil dry out on the top first before giving them more water. and ensure that they drain well.

The deal with the tap water is the temperature as it comes out of the  water pipes.  That's what will kill your seedlings.  Instead, keep a container of water at room temperature to do your watering with.  I will now bust a myth about tomatoes for the folks who think that buying greenhouse-grown tomatoes will get them ahead on the season just because the vines are more mature than those started from seed at home: tomatoes are daylight-length sensitive, and won't produce until the daylight hours are long enough.  Those "days to maturity" ratings make a difference only in terms of how late in the summer the tomatoes are produced; they make NO difference in how early in early spring they'll produce.

Much of my success at gardening in north central Oklahoma can be attributed to classes I took in Phoenix AZ, at the Desert Botanical Garden.  Many of the issues that arise as challenges in the Sonora Desert region are similar to what's found in north central OK, including the issues with hard pan and water salinity.

I keep bees, but they're not honeybees. They're mason bees, and the most maintenance I do with the nesting area is keep the holes clean by using drinking straws in them.  Mason bees will refuse to use a hole that has been previously occupied, so I stick drinking straws in them and remove the used straws every season, replacing those with fresh ones.

I will add more tips and pics to this entry as I find them.

Here we go--found a pictorial diagram I did for posting on a Group in Care2Connect some years ago.  This illustrates the principle of the pop-bottle coldframe, but with a single row for walls. I recommend a double wall.

The directional color scheme is important for converting low-angle sunshine into heat on the north end, while permitting less obstruction to the sunlight from the south side. On the north side of the north wall of water, I added black plastic for additional heat. In an election year, I harvested abandoned political yard signs, turned the plastic part inside out, exposing a black plastic panel inside, put it back on the wire frame and put it into the ground on the north side, achieving the same objective.

An example of a sturdy heirloom tomato seedling--variety: Silvery Fir Tree. Yup, that's a tomato and it has proven to be the only tomato variety that produced tomatoes during a particularly hot summer. Note the size of the cup--it has been my experience that smaller containers will dry out too fast and cramp the root system, so this size is actually ideal.

I simply took a yogurt display box from a grocery store to use as a handy dandy transport tray for tomato seedlings.  It's important to "harden off" seedlings by taking them outside when the temperature is above 60 degrees and it's not terribly windy.  A good breeze will help the stems strengthen, and the direct sunlight with the breeze will make them thrive.
Nothing beats home-grown asparagus ("gus" for short). I have already mentioned my gus hedge in previous blog postings, taking a regular hedge clipper to it and such.
One day's taking. I grow enough to enjoy in the spring with enough left over to freeze for use during the rest of the year.
Parsley that grew under plastic inside a pop-bottle coldframe, finally liberated in spring.

The pop bottle coldframe scheme has permitted this artichoke to winter over and produce the following year.  One of the reasons artichokes aren't grown this far north is because they don't produce until the second year.
At the foot of some jostaberry bushes blooms a Southern Illinois Prickly Pear cactus.  Got it from Mom's yard when I went back for her funeral.
From my Backyard Zoo collection: a mockingbird fledgeling hiding in the hedge
This is a variation on the pop-bottle scheme. Christmas lights on the north face inside, 'way int he back. The arch is fashioned from a discarded central A/C unit grille, and that's mostly romaine lettuce in there.

March 3 Update: I forgot to mention that the bright side of all this freezy weather this winter is that it portends a good apricot crop.  One of the biggest problems with growing apricots and other stone fruit like peaches is that the trees bloom too early to escape an ice storm or freeze snap that occurs later.  Pollination that early is also an issue, which is why I raise bees.  Not honey bees, mind you--mason bees.  Honey bees don't like to go out when it's not just the right warmth, and mason bees aren't that picky.

A long period of freeze plus snow blanket means later blooming, and thus a better chance of a good crop.  By the way, strawberries like it, too.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Uncivil wars around the globe now include Venezuela and Ukraine

I know it's been a while since I've addressed global concerns, but the fact of the matter is that they keep changing so rapidly that even keeping up with them via Twitter newsfeeds has become a major challenge.

The stats on this blog show ongoing interest in what's been happening in Egypt, and I know that the last thing I posted on that subject is rather old.  Trouble is, the situation there is still in flux.  Time traveler that I am, I do tend to look at the whole planet, though, and what I'm seeing is, effectually, a revolt against global trade interests, actually, as these individual eruptions (no longer can we call it "Arab Spring" because of non-Arab involvements) are indeed interruptions in global trade efforts, not the least of which is the TPP.

From global orbit, in terms of trade, we can see NAFTA, the EUASEAN and the like, and where TPP clashes with ASEAN.  Prior to that was the old Pan-African movement of yore, an utter failure, and OPEC, which runs afoul of all of those.  And should we think that the South American nations east of the Andes is going to be happy with the TPP involving only the nations to the west?  Brazil is hungry for the World Cup for reasons other than simple sporting interests, and that's one of the other Latin countries in upheaval. And what of Thailand, and whether ASEAN or TPP?

The sum of what's been happening, Arab countries or not, is that the governed no longer consent to being governed by the status quo.  The phenomenon is as global as trade is.  And I don't think global corporate interests figured on any of it.

TPP UPDATE, TUESDAY: Although the news of the breakdown in talks occurred Monday, I held off any further comments because I'd been hearing a number of different perspectives on what happened. At this point in time, I'd like to highlight what I heard about Japan, which is already involved in the ASEAN trade arrangement, as well as involved in TPP talks. Via NHK World, English, Japan had tariff issues in this last round.  NHK World, English, also has a categorical rundown of the TPP talks.

The recent resignation of the Egyptian parliament does not bode well; it appears that Sisi is indeed contemplating a run for the presidency. Insha'allah, he should fail.

PM UPDATE: Somebody just used Bing to do a search on just my name, I see. I'll bet that was you, Eric Benson.  Welcome to the world of Clara Listensprechen. "Anonymous" my ass, ha.  Yup--I'm the gal you can count on to remind you as often as necessary that you're just a city employee and not an elected official. That saying about how lonely it is at the top must be true--look how you're spending your Saturday time, honey.  You're trying to spend it with li'l ole me. How sweet. All good reason to once again commence to be insufferably smug for the rest of the day. :P   XD

Happy Ragnarok. YOLO. 

MONDAY MINI-UPDATE: In checking the blog stats this morning, I can see that this post hit a nerve, ha.  Commencing to be insufferably smug for the rest of this day too. 

I also just put up a slightly different This Is Only A Test vid up on the February's First Friday post which now includes the video Instance of Oy footage from a city council study session, now that I've figured out which vid format will import properly to the software I'm using at home.  What's been slowing things down at this end are all the cross-platform conversions that I have to get the hang of and I'm on the low end of the learning curve even at this point.  C'est la vie.

TUESDAY MINI GEORGE UPDATE: He's back home, with considerable less of him than he started out with, and is still getting professional attention. Yeah, George, even over here I can yell "Semper Fi--HOOO-AH!"  Well done, sir.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The vast ambitions of half-vast city commissioners of Enid

As you might have gathered from mini-updates on this blog regarding city affairs, the PEGASYS saga is under ongoing development, and the story is far from over yet.  The following appeared in today's paper:

These guys, including every member of this board, is ignorant of the role that the cable provider has in providing which channels of what definition it wants to make available for public access.  If these idiots want HD, they're going to find themselves on the less-viewed upper tier of channels instead of the more visible lower channels providing SD, which is what PEGASYS was.

The word "idiot" just doesn't cover it.  The good ole southern term "idjit" is more apt.

And I'd like to know where they suddenly came up with all of this money that it was starving PEGASYS of earlier when they claimed they couldn't afford it.

Answer to challenges: Yes, I know that there are HD entities on lower channels, but those fall into two regulatory categories, neither of which fall under "public access".  One of those categories is "local content", as in channels provided for local TV feeds, like the major TV stations in OKC, and those will be both lower channels and HD.  Public access channels aren't regulated the way local content channels are.

The other category is cable-only content, and, generally speaking, public access falls into this category but the priority is commercial content providers, which public access is not.  Public access is treated by cable providers as a sort of "red-haired step child" of federal regulation, and cable providers won't provide more of its resources to it than federal regulation demands, and a public access entity that demands HD won't get better treatment--it'll get worse.  In all of its vast ambitions, the City fails to take the cable provider into consideration, which makes City efforts, quite frankly, half-vast (half-assed).

SATURDAY UPDATE--convergence of topics: I got another marriage proposal, this time from a young guy who had no idea just how old I am.  This Saturday follows a Friday night when OETA re-ran the Doctor Who episode "Angels Take Manhattan" in which Amy says to Rory, "Husband--run!"  ...followed by River Song (Melody Pond) saying to the Doctor, "Husband--shut up".  In Saturday's newspaper came the weekly local TV listings in which was announced that there would be a re-run of the performance of one Debra Conner, as Zelda Fitzgerald. The common denominator? The antiquated institution with regard to mental health, that's what, and I'll mention again the situation posed by the Broadway play cum motion picture, "Gaslight".  With that, I'll express hope for this hopeless institution by mentioning the emergence of same-sex marriage, the only hope the institution has for evolving into something more civilized than has been its track record ever since it was invented.

Facebook meme that sounds funny now, but was taken seriously in yester-year at a time when The Stepford Wives was a reflection of society's (and religious) ideals, resulting in real casualties.

On the farm, selective breeding of domesticated animals is called "animal husbandry", and there's a good reason for that.  It just seems to me that it's long overdue for humans to grace themselves with something more suitable for human beings than a concept conceived in humanity's repeated Dark Ages, including those Dark Ages when mental health was used as a weapon against women, under the religious belief that it's God's natural law demanding that women be happy with the lot served to them when marriage was considered to be laudable as well as necessary and unhappy women were necessarily unstable, in need of institutionalization.  It will be the gays that saves marriage from itself, in my view.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An actual class taught on time travel? | City update

I was browsing Facebook for any news of George while the Colbert Report was on the tube, which got my attention when guest Brian Greene commenced to explain's online lessons and took the time to explain time.  Touched on time travel a bit, too.

Now, I've got an issue with what was discussed on the Colbert Report in regard to time because the discussion stuck with the benchmark of the "speed of light", and speed is a function of time and distance--so if you have the speed of light defining time, you now have a recursive definition, and that 'un won't fly, Orville.

So I'm signing up for the course (it's free).  Let's see how Mr. Greene takes to having a time traveler in his class.

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: I just heard that George is post-op and doing well--just incapacitated at this time.  That's certainly good news. No doubt recovery will take a long time, though.
UPDATE 2: Earlier in this blog I had thrice indicated reasons to be insufferably smug.  Well, in that regard, another Doctor Who reference in in order: Melody Pond's doggerel about "penny in the air....and the penny drops".  Those earlier posts = threepence in the air.  Today is the day when 3 pennies drop.

I might as well add that although the character Clara Oswald has a lot in common with moi, right down to the feisty bit and being an impossible person, there's a huge helping of Melody Pond in there, minus the bit about marriage--plus I'm a whole lot better at history.  Just picture the two-fisted derring-do and you've got it. (Alright already--yes, they're American pennies.  Now bugger off, tosser.)

CITY UPDATE--3: Got confirmation of one of those pennies dropping this evening, in the form of a rather irate city manager getting all in my face. While I remain concerned about George, this major event warrants my commencing to be insufferably smug and a half for the rest of the day.

City Employee (manager) Eric Benson. YEAH he got that close. Zoom was not used with this. The score as of this inning: Clara 2 Benson 0.
"Penny in the air............

                                                                            ...............penny drops."

THURSDAY GEORGE UPDATE: He managed to get his mitts on a computing device and updated his status on Facebook this morning, expressing an intense desire to get the blazes out of where he is.  And it's quite possible that he hasn't convalesced to the point of being able to be out on his own quite yet, and that its his meds talking.  Basically, he's returned to consciousness and is feisty at that, and those are good signs at least.  I also know he reads this blog, so I'll say something further about what transpired before he went under, something that goes to the heart of a certain matter.

In my treatment of what he said in my regard earlier, and my response to it, it's not to be construed as my leading him on.  Au contraire--it's my way of treating the situation with kindness because I know what the phenomenon is like, and I'm convinced it happens to all of us because of the human animals we are, and cannot deny.  The heart wants what the heart wants and when you try to reason with it, it won't listen.  It never does. The only thing to do is just ride it out, and sometimes that might take a rather long time...but it's only the human chemistry, an illusion, and the masters of illusion in Hollywood shouldn't be surprised by groupies and really fanatical fans because it's the illusion they're in love with.  It happens to the best of us, even me.

When such a phenomenon is revealed under the duress of a possibly fatal medical condition, far be it from me to take a reason to live away from somebody even so.  Because of the chemical nature of the phenomenon, to be cruel would have medical consequences, and I like George too well to do that. He's conscious and he's feisty and I celebrate that.

For all the talk about my time traveling, I'm not a Gallifreyan timelord, and I'm definitely not British--I'm all too human, as it happens.  Surprise. I've walked a few miles in those shoes.  My Prince Charming is somebody I've been with over the decades, I'm happy, my heart is not on the market but somebody did manage to steal it for a moment and nobody's more surprised at that than I am. How the hell did that even happen? But I know it to be an illusion, lovely impossible illusion though it might be. No person of science can explain that which defies reason.

Illusions have a way of fading away, though, and reality has a way of reasserting itself, and to make a reference to a certain congressman who claimed he was hiking the Appalachians, no amount of Appalachian hiking keeps reality from setting in when it does.  Those who marry on the basis of illusion are the first to get divorced--there's that.

Illusion is why, medically, placebos seem to work ("placebo effect"), and why talking to somebody in a coma seems to be beneficial.  Illusions can be good things too, especially during times when a person is going through whatever rough patch he's going through.  It can make the difference between giving up and hanging on, and as for George, I definitely wish him all the best.  Regardless of anything else, he's still my friend.

GEORGE UPDATE 2: His situation took a strange turn and beyond that I'll be giving more respect to his privacy beyond this point.  George, I know that you read this: your friends and your cousins are still pulling for you, buddy.  Hang in there, come what may.