Blame The SLOW Trains

Train
So another tragic major train derailment in Philadelphia this week. 



Already 8 people killed and over 200 injured. 



All over the news, we see that the train was speeding by going just over 100 mph.



Yes, it was a curve, and maybe we need to build some straighter more stable lines (I believe that is partly what eminent domain used properly is for) and with the latest safety features. 



But does anyone ask how can other countries safely implement their trains at far faster speeds–that makes 106 mph look virtually like a mere snails pace in comparison.



Just last month, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about the U.S. potentially upgrading to bullet trains that rountinely and safely go at far higher speeds:



Japan: 375 mph!



France: 199 mph.



China: 186 mph.



U.S.: 149 mph (even the Acela train has the potential to do at least this much, but for the most part they don’t due to shared lines with commuter and freight trains and an aging infrastructure–uh, so where did all that money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act go exactly?)



In what now seems retrospectively almost mocking, Japan Railways, International Division Chief stated: “We have a track record of transporting a huge volume of passenger traffic with very few delays or accidents…Because the trains operate so accurately, travel can be made very efficiently [and safetly].” 



Do you think we the U.S. can catch up with our 21st century peers here?



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Toshy Island Paddy)

From Flat Tires To Wounded Warriors

Totally awesome new technology breakthrough for treating hemorraging patients from the battlefield to the obstetrics ward.

Popular Science reports how a pocket-size syringe filled with sponges can stop bleeding in seconds.

Instead of having to apply wads of gauze and apply pressure”that doesn’t always work…[and] medic must pull out all the gauze and start over again,” the injection of sponges into the wound “boosts survival and spares injured soldiers from additional pain.”

This same technology developed by RevMedx for the military is being adapted for postpartum hemmorages, and I would imagine could eventually be used in other serious bleeding cases whether caused by accident, trauma, in surgery, or other medical necessity.

The sponges are about 1-centimeter circles and are coated with a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance.

Once injected, the sponges expand to about 20 times their size to fill the wound, apply enough pressure to stop the bleending, and clings to moist surfaces, so they aren’t forced out by gushing blood.

The sponges have X-shaped markers on each that are visible on an x-ray image to ensure none are left inside.

The solution is sterile, biocompatible and in the future may be biodegradable so they don’t have to be removed from the body.

And to think that the inspiration was Fix-a-Flat foam for emergency tire repair. 😉

Mothers Against Shaving Driving

Mothers Against Shaving Driving

So you think drinking and driving is bad…it is!

But look what this person is doing while driving.

No, not texting.

No, not putting on makeup.

This guy is actually shaving while driving an automobile, and he’s at an intersection.

What is he thinking?

Are people really that busy that they can’t find a few minutes to shave in the morning in the bathroom?

Of course when this guy has an accident, G-d forbid, he’ll make up some shameful lying story to get himself off the hook.

Oh, it was the other person’s fault or the accelerator stuck–it’s defective.

Where are people’s sensibilities?

Here’s a band-aid for the nick you got while shaving this morning.

Next time use a bigger mirror and keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. 😉

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

Two Pictures From DC Today

Car Accident

Samples All Gone

These were two photos that I took downtown today.

Both photos represent contrasts of the reality with life in the city.

The first was a car junked-up and sitting on the sidewalk. It was quite out of place in front of the neat rowhouses and otherwise nicely manicured street.

The second was the “free samples” tray of delicious Pumpkin Munchkins at Dunkin’ Donuts with all the samples gone–empty–nothing there.

Perhaps, if we put these together in a storyline then it’s simple…someone wrecked their car, put grafitti all over it in some sort of artistic or social statement, made their way over to DD and in their anxiety ate up all the free munchkins, and left only a short while later to get over to the car dealship to look for a new set of wheels.

That’s a pretty full day even in Washington, D.C. 😉

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Lessons From Breaking A Leg

Lessons From Breaking A Leg

Some things I learned from breaking an ankle this week:

1) Beware of the Crazies: There are a lot of crazy people out there. This guy on the street in Washington, D.C. was yelling and screaming and when I turned to see what all the commotion was about, my foot pivoted sideways off the pavement and crack! I was cussing under my breath at the nut on the street and the pain shooting out of my foot. Thank G-d for the parking meter, which I lunged toward and grabbed to keep myself vertical!

2) Be great: The lady in the hospital that did my cast was amazing. She was so nice to me and talented as a medical professional. She was able to take even a sort of routine task like making a cast (she probably does thousands of them) and do it with an artistic flair and near perfection–I’m telling you this lady was able to make great out of the mundane. All the time explaining to me what she was doing, asking me how it felt, and then helping me test it out. She was like an angel.

3) Easy is hard: The crutches are large and clumsy–they help to redistribute the weight off the foot, but they are uncomfortable to use and look ridiculous. But getting around on crutches, I am realizing that all the things every day that I take for granted as easy are pretty hard with a broken bone. On the first day, I went courageously out to the Metro and was going to head down to work, but when it started raining I realized this was not going to work–how to you carry yourself on crutches and hold an umbrella at the same time and not get your cast wet and ruin it. The next day, I found myself hopping on and off the escalator trying to keep balanced, keep the weight off the foot, and grab the crutches along with me–this was almost comical. Then trying to stay on the crutches, while using the metro card to activate the turnstile, and go through this narrow passage quickly, I found myself wedged between the turnstile gates. Then the morning coffee was a no-no; how do you carry a coffee while navigating on crutches, which then left me with a caffeine withdrawal headache. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Being sick and injured is lousy, but I appreciate my health anew. And I thank G-d for teaching me some valuable lessons–many refreshers–and keeping me from an even worse outcome. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Fun, The Good ‘ol Fashion Way

Fun, The Good 'ol Fashion Way

This was a funny picture today on the street in downtown D.C.

This guy was getting a cheap ride down the thoroughfare in a bin.

She was pushing and he had his arm raised as the winner of the big race.

It reminded me of when we were kids and used to ride go-karts down the hill–and only after we picked up some speed did we realize that the breaks didn’t work that good.

Oh well, a little flip and some chuckles and no worse for the wear.

Those were the days, young and carefree–nothing to worry about except whose house we were going over to, next, to wreck some havoc.

I remember, one day we were having a huge wet paper towel fight and one kid ran into the garage to escape the barrage, I gave chase and unwittingly pushed against the glass in the door to follow and oops my hand went right through.

Not a pretty sight, but I thank G-d lived to tell my kids about it, and now they got one up on me when they do something a little out of bounds and fun–actually they are a lot better than I was at that age.

And it wasn’t that I was a bad kid, I was actually one the good ones–or so I was told–but before we all had computers, the Internet, social media, and smartphones, we had each other.

It wasn’t the technology that drove us, but rather the evolving web of interactions (today my new best friend is…), the challenges we made up (let’s bike up to Tarrytown in 100+ degree heat), the fun we found ourselves in (from the board game Risk to early gaming on the Atari, or just cleaning out a friends garage for a few bucks)–times were simpler, more innocent, and in a way better.

When we went home at night from work or for the weekend, our time was our own–were weren’t glued to email and always on call.

When we attended an event, we didn’t check our Facebook and Twitter, but paid attention to the company we were in.

When we ate dinner together, maybe the one rabbit-ear TV was going in the background with one of the 3 networks stations, but everyone wasn’t being pulled away for gaming, blogging, or some Internet shopping.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my technology as much or maybe more than the next guy, but I also miss just being me in the physical world with my family and gang of friends, and not just so much TheTotalCIO in the office and in cyberspace. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Did The Cereal Box Say To The BMW?

What Did The Cereal Box Say To The BMW?

This family had just come out of Costco loaded with groceries.

They are heading to the garage to pack it into their car.

A BMW comes racing through the garage and runs over one of these mega Costco cereal boxes.

The car keeps going with the cereal box being dragged underneath.

The family runs through the garage and cuts off the BMW waving and yelling for him to stop.

He skids across the double-yellow line and stops blocking both sides of the road.

The man who lost his cereal bends under the front of the BMW to try to extricate the cereal.

The box is so Costco big, it barely can come out.

The man’s family looks on from the side.

Finally, he wiggles the box this way and that and gets the cereal box out from under the BMW.

The driver is standing there sort of bewildered by the whole thing.

If the cereal box could talk, I think it’d beg for a better ending than this.

Too often, as we go through life, we mow other people down who are in our way.

Thank G-d, this was just a box of cereal and not the man’s child or wife that had been run over and dragged.

I wondered how degrading it must have felt for this poor guy to be bending down in the street to get the box out, while the driver simply looks on in an uncaring disdain.

I almost thought for a moment, the driver was going to either just keep going or when he got out wallop the other guy for hassling him to get his cereal.

People can be strange that way and you never know what is going to happen next.

It is good that other people can be around with smartphone cameras and video, so that people don’t feel that they can just behave indiscriminately and obscurely.

In the end, no one should think they are all that–and have the right to uncaringly run over others’ persons or things.

We are all frail humans and G-d is always there with a very big, high megapixel smartphone recording it all for judgement day. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Drama in D.C.

Drama in D.C.

Wanted to share two unrelated, but noteworthy items from my week so far…

First, this tree went down right in the middle of traffic in Washington, D.C. today. The BMW on the left was totaled, the van and taxi on the right had their respective front and rear-ends crushed. So much for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

On another note, I taught an enterprise architecture class earlier this week here, and in discussing establishing technical standards for the organization, one student put it well when he dramatically said “everyone loves standards, that’s why they make their own.” 🙂

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)