If This Land’s Still Made

How big a fucking bottle of Dawn will it take to wash away “an event of national significance?”

Answer: a bottle the size of Australia.

Here’s what’s being done to capture the oil:

Chemical dispersants: About 100,000 gallons of chemical dispersant has been dropped from the air into the Gulf, where it breaks up the oil slick into smaller droplets. The droplets then get mixed into the water, where they are subjected to ocean currents and natural degradation processes, according to the Minerals Management Service (MMS). “This potentially exposes the water column and near shore shallow bottom-dwelling organisms to oil,” according to MMS.

Soapy soap soap.

Skimmers: Once broken up, skimming vessels come in and collect what’s left. The droplets are collected in drums and some of that material gets cleaned and recycled. The rest is “properly disposed,” Mendenhall said. But skimmers can only capture about 10 percent of the volume of spilled oil, according to Charlie Henry of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Controlled burn: On Wednesday, BP and the Coast Guard, along with other agencies, conducted an in-situ burn in which they used a fireproof boom to corral dense parts of the oil spill, moving it to another location and then burning it.


In general, burning is probably the most effective method for cleaning up heavy oil like that leaking in the Gulf, according to said Edward Overton, a professor emeritus of environmental sciences at Louisiana State University. But it has drawbacks. When you burn near the coast, you have to destroy wildlife, and offshore burning is harder to do.

“I have no idea what we’re going to do, this is trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t work,” Overton said. And news reports suggest since the oil is really an oil-water mix, burning actually might not do the trick.

Collection domes: BP has also started to put together a subsea oil collection system, and when used will be the first time this shallow-water technology has been adapted for the deep water. The oil leaks in the Gulf are nearly a mile down. It is expected to be ready for deployment within the next four weeks, according to BP.

When ready, here’s how the oil-spill technology would work: The dome would be placed on the seabed to capture the leaking oil. This oil would then be pumped up to surface vessels that could collect the oil and take it away. Similar systems have been used in shallow water, but never at depth of 5,000 feet. The Coast Guard has said the construction could take two to four weeks.

New method: However, Thursday afternoon officials said they might try an experimental oil-dispersal method that would involve releasing chemicals from under the water. “We were notified that this technique might be more effective in spreading the dispersant at the source on the riser than by using aircraft to spread it on the sea,” said Doug Suttles, BP’s Chief Operating Officer.


Leftover oil

As for what happens to the “dispersed oil,” that doesn’t get skimmed off or burned off or otherwise collected, “We’re told it disperses naturally. It eventually breaks up and evaporates. There are different ways, but we’re told it just kind of goes away,” U.S. Coast Guard’s Mendenhall said.

Bacteria can also help degrade most components of oil.

Soapy soap.

But not all oils are created equally. At first, reports suggested the oil leaking into the Gulf was standard Louisiana crude oil, a type of oil that biodegrades pretty well, Overton said. But sample testing revealed that the leaking oil was a different type, one that contains a very high concentration of components that don’t degrade easily, called asphaltenes, according to Overton. He estimates that the concentration of these asphaltic components could be as high as 50 percent in this oil spill, while in other types of crude oil it might be as low as 1 or 2 percent.

“That is bad, bad news, because this oil is going to be very slow to degrade,” Overton said today.

Soapy soapy soap soap soap.

Some of the oil sinks to the sea bottom, where it can get buried into an anaerobic zone where there’s no oxygen. Oil in these zones stays in a chemically reduced form and doesn’t degrade as much, Overton said. But, he added, there’s not much life down there to be contaminated.

The oil slick could reach the Mississippi Delta coast as early as Friday, so at least some oil will hit shore. A satellite image of the slick taken Thursday showed it was almost touching the delta.

Image: NASA/Terra

There Is No Other Troy

When I left my house this morning, it was a cold spring day. Two miles later, it was winter again as I hiked from the parking deck to the library. I was only dressed for one season, and underdressed without a Sherpa.

Plastic slipcover filled with lettuce sprouts, occasional Italians.

A weekend or two ago, Pete took this picture on a warm, sunny morning before we experienced daily variations on raw, with spotty raw, followed by cold, wet, windy and – you guessed it – raw. Over the weekend, we’d planned to get up early, don silly outfits and pedal around our hometown in support of the local food bank, but the idea of giving ourselves pneumonia for charity lacked a certain broad appeal. You will be pleased to know we were wracked with guilt as we ate really delicious bagels in our cozy dining room instead.

But there is a time for everything, though some things like spring and understanding for Sinead O’Connor take longer to arrive than one might hope. Sinead was always right: the Church hierarchy was covering up the abuse of children. This week, she returned to American television with the story no one wanted to hear 20 years ago, and now, we must listen.

[T]he Vatican is – it‘s a 15th century organization. It‘s a medieval organization. And what we‘re seeing is the battle between medieval thinking and 21st century thinking.

If they want to survive into the 21st century, they‘re going to have to become a 21st century business, which means that they are, first of all, those who have brought the Holy Spirit and Catholicism into total disrepute should be fired.

Whoever was involved in the cover-up of child abuse and therefore endangering children should be fired. The pope should be fired or should stand down. There should be a criminal investigation of the Vatican and of the pope.

They should all get out and let us in the 21st century choose who we think is fit to run our church because it is ours. It‘s not theirs. It shouldn‘t be any more of this black smoke, white smoke nonsense, you know, it‘s them and us.

It‘s our church. We need to reclaim it and we need to have it run by people who actually believe in God.

This is the person American Catholics punished?

Yes, yes it was. Her career was destroyed, and she will never trust us again, but even that is not important.

[O]n behalf of all the Irish survivors, they and I and anyone involved in the campaign is so, so grateful to the American media. Because, you know, you all have leapt in just at the right moment.

After Pope Benedict‘s letter came – that‘s why I then wrote to the “Washington Post.” I was disgusted by this letter, which actually referred to the priests, the bishops who covered up as being a “well-intentioned” desire to protect the church.

What on earth was well-intentioned about it? The letters are a study in the art of lying. It suggests that the Irish hierarchy were acting independently of the Vatican.

The letter and their actions have not punished at all those people who were accomplices by silence to the crime of child abuse. None of them have been fired. It looks very bad that the pope hasn‘t fired all of them and said, “How dare you bring us into disrepute.”

That looks like the house of the Holy Spirit has become a haven for moral criminals. But as I say, just at the right moment, America stepped in, the “New York Times” piece. “Boston Globe” also stepped in.

And now, a lot of the victims – I was just sitting with some of them this morning. They were saying, you know, almost with tears in their eyes, sitting back, saying, “We‘ve waited 40 years now, trying to bang the door down here. And now, we can sit down and relax because the American media have taken it on board.”

And it‘s their baby now for want of a better – pardon the pun, you know. But we‘re enormously grateful in Ireland for what the American media are doing because we know the Americans don‘t take any nonsense and they don‘t take any prisoners.

And there‘s no way the Vatican are going to get off the hook now that the Americans are after you. So thank you very much.

The Phoenix rises from the flame. And we will learn.

The Pank Who Tries To Drive

What the hell, let’s give posting a go, eh?

Nature's freaking bounty.

Tonight, I sprinted from task to task and didn’t sit down until 10. Grocery shopped, started yogurt, made ricotta. There was little time for testing out all the little posting options. When we set up the PIC years ago, the artists’ pages went up first and the blog was an afterthought, so the look and feel were already established. What’s this look like? The inside of a tidy toolbox, but it’s got to be temporary.

You see the man behind curtain and he is wearing Mighty Mouse boxers – but he might’ve been nekkid. I guess you’re ahead.

I Gave You A Long Look

On Tuesday night, I got an odd email from a person I didn’t know. It said simply, “We’ll be shelving tomorrow night at 7:30. Hope to see you there.” Because I work in a library and have no intention of freelancing, I wrote back to ask who the writer was, shelving what and where – and I didn’t use the word fucking even once. The Mystery Writer responded that the food pantry blocks from my house was looking for volunteers the following night. Then I stopped swearing with my inside voice. The times I’ve sorted stuff at the food pantry followed all hands on deck emergency calls, but this was not that. Though curious about ordinary activities at the food pantry, I was also concerned that stress on my hip would force me out before the work was completed.

Turns out I needn’t have worried: three middle-aged women, another in her thirties and six teenage girls sorted donated items for half an hour at a high rate of speed, then tossed around cases of industrial-size canned goods, then composed bags the food pantry distributes to its clients once a month, I believe I heard. I’m not entirely sure, since I was running my tail off and tossing off one-liners. We cleaned up the room and left in place a satisfying arrangement and quantity of those special bags. I explained that emails to me must contain information such as who and what they’re talking about and surprisingly no one punched me. Admittedly, the ache when I sat down concerned me, but the next morning, I told Lupe about how much fun volunteering was and Lupe intimated that after exams, she’d like to join in. The food pantry needs Wednesday night help every two weeks. It really is that easy.

In our backyard, lettuce seedlings in containers are just about ready to live outside the greenhouse. It’s not really a greenhouse. It’s a clear plastic tent, but it serves the purpose: as soon as the tender seedlings are ready to live outdoors, younger seedlings can be transplanted into containers. In the kitchen, we thought long and hard about it and decided that we should be eating organic, cage-free eggs, which cost about $1-$1.50 more per dozen than eggs where the chickens lived in grisly factory farm conditions. These eggs were so pretty Pete took their picture. It matters how animals are fed and treated, you know? Kind of a lot like it matters to people.

Everything I Have In My Hand

Waiting…waiting…trying to cut down…

On 1 May, Blogger’s cutting me off. Poor Impulse Control, such as it is, will become a static museum of swearing, stylish footwear, bad behavior and do-goodery almost exactly six years after Paulie Gonzalez pushed me at the laptop and pointed the way. Sure, it’s traumatic for me, but what fresh start isn’t?

Siobhan’s been working on the technical aspects of the move, which have proven ridiculous. Yesterday, I couldn’t even be rational about a URL. If Siobhan doesn’t toss me into a borrowed wood chipper – she wound never be stupid enough to leave a receipt trail – by next week, we should be on our way. Where? No idea, but – dagnabbit! – we’re going.

And Around Me Waist A Belt

Behold: tiny Drusy, nestled into a pale blue microfleece, patiently enduring the usual adoration. She is used to having us go all googly when she does something small, like rest her cheek against Pete’s or curl up in my arms like an infant. It’s not easy to be so beautiful, but Drusy never complains. Here, we have exhausted her with tuna treats, playing with the gray mousie finger puppet and our very attentions. Though she loves us, she would just like to gently close her eyes.