Where are the Maglev Elevators?

The potential of the technology is Fantastic! It means that even very tall buildings could function with only two elevator shafts – one for up and one for down – and an elevator cab could be waiting at every level ready to take on passengers. No more long lines waiting for the only elevator cab to come back down the same shaft. More like a train, one elevator cab starts up and the next one comes along a few seconds later and follows the first.

Unfortunately – I haven’t been able to find any significant updates since the following story appeared in the associated press on January 17, 2006:

Magnetic Elevators To Debut In 2008
Floating In Midair, Similar To Maglev High Speed Trains

(AP) The world’s first elevators controlled by magnetic levitation will debut as early as 2008, a Tokyo-based company said Tuesday.

Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corp. will employ so-called maglev technology — capable of suspending objects in midair through the combination of magnetic attraction and repulsion to control the lifts, it said in a statement.

The maglev elevators will be quieter and more comfortable and will travel 984 feet per minute — not as fast as the company’s conventional lifts that can move up to 3,314 feet a minute, Toshiba said.

Maglev technology has already been used to develop high-speed trains. The only passenger-carrying maglev train in the world links Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China, to the city center at speeds of 267 miles per hour.

A maglev shuttle in Birmingham, England, was abandoned in 1995 after 11 years in operation because of technical glitches.

I am hoping they don’t go the way of the flying cars we were promised in the 1950′s – they were supposed to arrive by 1984!

Here is at least a good animation showing the theory and potential for maglev technology in building elevators:

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Mill Valley – by Rita Abrams

Wow – YouTube really does have everything.. here is a video of the song “Mill Valley” – by Rita Abrams.

Rita Abrams was my kindergarten teacher at Strawberry Point School. She wrote “Mill Valley” and a dozen other songs for us to sing with her in class. Eventually, “Mill Valley” and an album full of the other songs were recorded by Rita and the then-third grade class of Strawberry Point School. “Mill Valley” became a nationwide hit – my classmates were on the radio! It was very exciting.

During the local 4th of July celebration that year, Miss Abrams and members of the third grade class performed, and a camera crew from Warner Bros. captured the event. The film was directed by, then unknown, filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.

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Porsche Carrera GT

It is amazing, a few years of law school, bar exams, and trying to start a business, and suddenly I’m completely out of touch with the world of “toys for BILLIONAIRES” that fill the dreams of the schoolboy in us all.

I was on my way to San Francisco this evening and I was passed by a car that I had never seen before – and was very curious. Turns out it was a Porsche Carrera GT

Seems it is quite a car if you can afford the half million dollar price tag!

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Ailene and I spent a beautiful, sunny, Saturday afternoon wandering through the gardens at Filoli. I highly recommend taking an afternoon to enjoy the gardens on a nice sunny day in spring or early summer while many of the flowers are in bloom.

I have finally added the photos to my Island of Lost Toys site at the following address:

Posted in Art, Garden, Travel | Leave a comment

End of the Golden Gate Bridge View?

Golden Gate BridgeA very small, but extremely vocal, group of folks are once again campaigning heavily to have a suicide prevention barrier installed on the Golden Gate Bridge. Personally I believe a suicide prevention barrier on Handguns would be a much better idea.

Since opening day on Thursday, May 27, 1937, MILLIONS of folks have enjoyed the spectacular views from the Golden Gate Bridge.

On a sunny day, the view from the center of the Golden Gate is glorious: Angel Island to the left, Alcatraz straight ahead, Treasure Island, dividing the long gray span of the SF/Oakland Bay Bridge, and of course, the celebrated hills of the city itself – San Francisco.

“Matchless in its Art Deco splendor, the Golden Gate is also unrivalled as a symbol: it is a threshold that presides over the end of the continent and a gangway to the void beyond.”

The Golden Gate Bridge Building and Operating Committee – succumbing to the anguished pleas of the few – has authorized a new $2 Million, two year long study of, and preliminary design for a suicide barrier on the bridge. The barrier itself would cost in the ballpark of $20 to $30 Million to install and naturally this cost will be passed on to all of us that use the bridge on a daily basis.

They want to destroy my favorite view! Why? Because in the past 68 years roughly 25 people a year jump to their deaths from this idyllic location.

There is a concept – “the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few” – which apparently is not is not embraced by this small group of folks supporting the idea of a barrier. Because of their personal grief – having lost one of the 1300 that have jumped in the past 68 years – they want to take away the view from the rest of the Millions who have enjoyed it each year.

There is a suicide prevention barrier at the top of the Empire State Building – being up there feels like being inside a prison. The view is gorgeous if you can look past the heavy steel bars.

The views from the Golden Gate are as open and enjoyable today as they were the day the bridge opened in 1937.
People walking, jogging, riding bicycles, or driving all share these fabulous, unencumbered vistas. Please, do not let the misguided efforts of this small group of ‘barrier supporters’ destroy the panorama that we are ALL able to enjoy.

I urge to your write to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors and let them know that many of us want the keep the Golden Gate Bridge the way it is today. The address is:

President of the Board
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District
P.O. Box 9000, Presidio Station
San Francisco, CA 94129-060


Posted in Construction, Politics, Travel | Leave a comment

“Nu-cu-ler” Energy & More Oil!

I caught an old speech by President Bush in which he was discussing the U.S. need to be less reliant on oil from the Middle East.
I agree.

He then went on to say this is why we need to drill for oil in Alaska and build new “Nu-cu-ler” energy plants.
I couldn’t disagree more.

To begin with, it is NU-CLEAR not “NU-CU-LER” – if you can’t pronounce it correctly you have no right to demand more. Although I am wondering if “NU-CU-LER” energy is some magical, new technology that is a top secret project of the government. Nuclear energy has proven to be quite dangerous – remember Three Mile Island and Chornobyl’ in north-central Ukraine. In case you forgot, Three Mile Island almost blew-up and Chornobyl’ did!

The production of Nuclear Energy results in large quantities of highly toxic leftovers that need to be buried in giant concrete bunkers with 20 foot thick walls, and stay safely away from all possible contact for the next 10,000 years. Not exactly the brightest idea in energy production if your ask me.

What a shame that the President is so absolutely clueless to the concept of simply reducing our consumption of oil. Auto manufacturers have successfully produced hybrid vehicles that get DOUBLE the gas mileage of the average vehicle on the road today. Why not simply demand that within the next few years all car manufacturers must substantially increase their production of hybrid engine technology. Perhaps require that the average fuel consumption of all new cars is doubled within the next 3 years. This would cut fuel consumption dramatically!

I should think that dramatically cutting U.S. fuel consumption in such a manner would quickly reduce the U.S. reliance on oil from the Middle East, and we wouldn’t have to drill a single hole in the Alaskan wilderness nor build a single new “Nu-cu-ler” power plant. Everybody could be paying less at the pump too as they would be filling up less often. It’s a win-win except for the oil companies who would be selling less gas.

Aren’t we supposed to have a country full of brilliant business entrepreneurs and politicians? Why can’t one of these brilliant folks figure out a simple plan to make reduced oil consumption profitable for the oil companies too?

These are the things that keep me awake at night.

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Trombone Solos in Jazz

I was listening to the local Jazz station last night on my way home. The song featured a trombone solo. There is something that troubles me about trombone players.

I understand that it takes great skill to play lightning fast scales & articulate scales on a trombone. I understand that a great player might like to show off the skill of being able to play such lightning fast and clearly articulated scales. But it is very disappointing to me to hear such folly in a trombone solo.

The trombone is one of the very few instruments in the orchestra that is capable of a beautiful, slow glissando up & down several notes. And yet, seldom does a trombone player take advantage of showcasing, in a solo, the wonderful, slow slides from note to note.

The pedal steel is another instrument that is capable of such melodic potential. Pedal steel players are usually quite skilled at creating the beautiful, slow melodies for which their instrument is so well suited. Trombone players don’t seem to have this sensibility. This makes me sad. I would like to hear trombone players who use their solos to show off the true beauty and nature of the instrument.

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Maserati 3500 GT

One of the little pleasures of living in San Francisco is seeing some really great cars on the road. This morning on my way to work I was passed by a beautiful 1961 Maserati 3500 GT, like the one in the picture below:

I was thinking that so many of the cars produced today look basically the same as most of the other cars produced today. There seems to be very little creativity and originality in the body styles dreamed up by today’s car designers. The 3500 GT is over 40 years old and looks stylish and new! This is brilliant design ahead of it’s time.

Perhaps the auto industry could take a lesson from the film industry and start revisiting the old classics to come up with a better variety.

Tip to GM & Ford – if you don’t want to go bankrupt, why don’t you start producing beautiful cars that folks actually want.

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Losing Our Religion?

I know it’s an older article, but I was just re-reading this great commentary by Leonard Pitts Jr. on the decline of religious affiliation in America. I think he has a very interesting point of view that remains relevant today:

Leonard Pitts Jr.Leonard Pitts Jr.: Losing our faith
Religion seems to be driving Americans away from God

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Frustrations with Norton Internet Security Problems

I am incredibly disappointed with the amount of time and trouble I have now had to go through to “update” my subscription to Norton Internet Security program.

Your software gave me a pop-up telling me that the subscription had expired and gave me a link to click to renew my subscription. Great! Except it didn’t work. All I got was a dialog asking for a number that I didn’t have. I could call your service phone number or use the web to update.

I chose to use the web. Your site actually worked well for choosing the latest version of the software and downloading it.

I went to install the software and the installation shut down – telling me that Norton was already running and had to be turned off before the upgrade could proceed.

Why is the installation software incapable of turning off the prior version of Norton so that it can do the upgrade?

I turned off Norton and launched the installation again.

This time the installation stopped and a pop-up told me that a prior version of Norton was already installed and had to be uninstalled before the upgrade could continue.

I thought the idea of an “Upgrade” was changing the current version of the software to a new version of the software. Of course it is already installed.

Why is the installation software incapable of getting rid of the prior version for me?

I launched the windows software install/un-install control panel and choose the “remove Norton Internet Security” option.

This time I got a flag telling me that Norton cannot be uninstalled using the “uninstall” button, I needed to start again using the “change program” button.

I started AGAIN – using the “change program” button and told it to uninstall the program.

I got a pop up telling me that elements of Norton were still running and the system needed to be restarted before the uninstall could continue.

I restarted the computer.

I started the uninstall process AGAIN using the “change program” button.

Finally! I got a pop-up telling me that Norton had been successfully uninstalled!

I launched the installer for the new software AGAIN!

This time I got a pop-up telling me that elements of the uninstalled version of Norton were still active and the system needed to be restarted before continuing with the new software installation.

I re-started the computer AGAIN!

I re-launched the installer program AGAIN – this time, FINALLY – the installation was successful!!

Then I got a pop-up telling me that the new software needed the product key.

Luckily I saved the email confirmation of the download where the product key number is located and remembered that the product key number was on that e-mail. Note that the e-mail did not mention that I would NEED this number in order to use the software! Also note that the pop-up window did not mention that the product key number I needed was located in the e-mail I had received. I was just lucky enough to put two and two together.

So now I opened up the e-mail to type the product key number into the new software.

The product key is a 25 digit alphanumeric number with NO spaces or dashes, that Symantec was kind enough to format in a 7 point font for easy reading!

After copying and pasting it into a Word document I could blow up the font size to a reasonably readable size and get it typed into the new software.

It took a few hours but now my Internet security software is up to date for 366 more days, then I guess I have to go through the whole process AGAIN!!

And this is just ONE of the 8 computers that I take care of in our office. Already another computer is telling me that it’s Norton subscription has expired and I need to start the whole process AGAIN!!

Unless Symantec can provide some guidance in making the “upgrade” process a LOT simpler! I’m thinking that I should change our office to McAfee.



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