Zheng He


Zheng He; ¬†eunuch, admiral, explorer – was one of the most remarkable figures of the Ming Dynasty. Sometimes when I look at ancient history I can’t shake the question “what if”. What if Zheng He had been allowed to continue his voyages, what if Zheng He had found the Americas?

Zheng He wasn’t even Chinese; born a Muslim Mongol in a remote province of central Asia; Ma He was captured by the Chinese in 1382. His name changed to Zheng He when he was castrated at the age of ten and sent as a eunuch to the court of Zhu Di. For the next 20 years Zheng served Zhu Di, eventually becoming his strategist in battles with the Mongols. In 1402 Zhu Di became Emperor – the greatest age in Chinese history unfolded. Zhu Di built the Forbidden City,widened the “grand canal” to accommodate well over a thousand ships a day, and constructed China’s “treasure fleet”. Under the direction of Zheng He the first voyage sailed in 1405. Almost a century before Columbus stumbled upon America, Zheng He and his treasure fleet had sailed to Arabia, Africa, and India.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0507/feature2/

Fate has a way of shaping history – in 1424 Zhu Di died. China that followed didn’t see the world as ¬†Zhu Di and Zheng He did; by 1433 the treasure fleet had been destroyed – every last ship burned, along with a law that forbade construction of ships with more than one mast.

 

I can’t help but ponder what might have been if Zheng He had been left to his own devices. It makes me ask – what might historians say about us a thousand years from now. Fate has a way of shaping history.

Car2Go


Notes is now a member of Car2Go, a car sharing program developed by Daimler in Ulm, Germany, 2008. Nothing short of brilliant, I’m stoked over the concept, no need to purchase a second car, and how easy it is to use. Car2Go is now running in 7 countries, with over 7000 gas and electric “Smart cars”.

The premise is simple; locate a car2go, swipe your card against security panel to unlock the doors. Enter your PIN code and drive away.When finished, swipe your card again to stop your trip. Trips are charged to your account at .38 cents a minute, you don’t pay for gas, parking, or insurance. If you find your vehicle low on gas and choose to stop and fill up – enter your PIN again to open the glove box containing Car2Go credit card and fill up. For your trouble, Car2Go credits your account with a discounted charge for that trip. An app downloaded to your android phone pinpoints the location of the nearest car, which you can then reserve up to a half hour in advance. I live next to a hospital, most days a car is parked in front of my house. With over 300 cars in the Vancouver area, a Car2Go is never more than a few blocks away.

A taxi in Vancouver starts at 3.20 on the meter, then 1.84 a Km., or 32.86 an hour. With Car2Go, I could drive downtown and be parked in under 15 minutes – normally about a 12 – 15 dollar cab ride,now under 6 dollars, and I park anywhere for free.

As I said – simple and genius.

Solar Wind Report


My theory is; if I ponder solar wind and space weather enough – people might start to pay attention. Space weather has an impact on our lives. Magnetic storms routinely knock out radio waves, or force airplanes to change their flight path. Solar flares responsible for the “Bastille Day event” or “Carrington event“, still news to most people. Space weather is fascinating; ever present, and not going away.

On Dec. 17 a massive coronal hole opened up on the surface of the sun. It unleashed some impressive solar winds. Currently solar wind speed is 470 Km/second. Located in the southern hemisphere of the sun, the impact of the wind will not be earth directed for now. Depending on how long this coronal hole acts up, it may be earth directed in the next few days.