Friday, August 19, 2011

Best Buy or Worst Buy?

Last week, I needed to recycle a television. Our local government sponsors recycling, and they'll take old paint and motor oil, but they won't take a television. Knowing that e-waste is a huge problem for our planet, I got hubby and son to put the malfunctioning behemoth in my van, to the only local spot for television recycling— Best Buy. It took talking to five different people to get the television out of my van and into the store, because each person I spoke with told me to see someone else.

After I finally got my ten dollar "gift card" which is what I got when I paid ten dollars in federal reserve notes for them to take the television, I looked for something to buy with it, because I didn't know anyone that I dislike enough to give them a gift card from BB. Finding anything to buy was really difficult, it seems that Best Buy really doesn't have many good buys. I asked yet another of the blue clad employees, if there might be a cheaper case for an iPad than the thirty dollar one I finally found. The response was, "You just said Apple and 'cheap' in the same sentence. Hah!" I guess they don't like Apple products. Or price conscious customers. So, I took the case to check-out. After all, it was only twelve dollars more than at Amazon, so it was one of the better buys in the store. It snapped on as it should, and since it has no electronic parts, it should serve its purpose.

Actually, I am just glad that I didn't need a repair. Over the years, I have been fortunate that my Apple products don't need much repair, and when they do, the Geek squad doesn't work on Apple computers. Thank goodness.

Any of you seen this one yet?

Or this one?

Good ol' Best Buy needs a new name, doesn't it?

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Semiballistics on the Way?

Readers of science fiction grand master Robert A. Heinlein's Friday just might remember the term "semiballistic" in reference to aircraft. The title's namesake heroine, Friday Jones, is on vacation, after having recovered from a near-death on-the-job experience, and she decides to visit Auckland. She leaves Winnipeg via ANZAC's SB service, for a ride which will take forty minutes. As the point-of-view character, Friday describes the experience: "the high-gee blastoff that always feels as if the cradle would rupture and spurt fluid all over the cabin, the breathless minutes in free fall that feel as if your guts were falling our, then the reentry and that long, long glide that beats any sky ride ever built."

The distance from Winnipeg to Christchurch is about 8,200 miles so the fictional SB would be going about about Mach 20. Okay, that sounds impossible, but more chronologically gifted readers might remember a time when Dick Tracy's wrist phone seemed impossible, too.

Case in point— an experimental, unmanned aircraft is being tested by our military, and press reports state that it has gone 22 times the speed of sound. The Falcon Hypersonic Vehicle 2 sits atop a rocket, then detaches and operates within the upper regions of the earth's atmosphere, at speeds of about 13,000 miles per hour. That's almost identical to Heinlein's SB's speed.

What would it mean to be able to travel at Mach 20? It is about 4200 miles from Atlanta to London. At Mach 20, the flight would be less than half an hour. That's great! No need for an in flight beverage, and most folks wouldn't need the restroom, either.

When will the hypersonic vehicle be ready for airline service? Probably not in my lifetime, but my children may very well live to travel at "semiballistic" speed. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

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