5×8 – 4/19/10: Messages from the volcano

The Monday Morning Rouser:

1) The volcano in Iceland is still spewing ash, the European airspace is still mostly closed, and people who don’t quite understand what happens when ash enters a jet engine are saying “enough” with the caution that’s stranded travelers and disrupted their lives.

What’s the big deal?

Still, it’s possible we haven’t seen anything, yet. Check out the U.S. Geological Survey fact sheet on volcanic ash:

When volcanic ash accumulates on buildings, its weight can cause roofs to collapse, killing and injuring people. A dry layer of ash 4 inches thick weighs 120 to 200 pounds per square yard, and wet ash can weigh twice as much. The load of ash that different roofs can withstand before collapsing varies greatly–flat roofs are more likely to collapse than steeply pitched ones.

Because wet ash conducts electricity, it can cause short circuits and failure of electronic components, especially high-voltage circuits and transformers. Power outages are common in ash-fall areas, making backup power systems important for critical facilities, such as hospitals.

Eruption clouds and ash fall commonly interrupt or prevent telephone and radio communications in several ways, including physical damage to equipment, frequent lightning (electrical discharges), and either scattering or absorption of radio signals by the heated and electrically charged ash particles.

CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Sunday said the situation has people his age remembering life before jet travel…

My grandkids believe everything in America is about an hour or so away. Earlier generations appreciated how broad and diverse our country is, because they had to travel through it, not glance at it from 30,000 feet.

Before jet planes made it possible for politicians to fly home every week to raise money, campaigns were a lot cheaper.

Slate Magazine has a nice primer on ash clouds here.

Should the airlines be allowed to resume flying even if there are concerns about the volcanic ash?online survey

2) This is Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts, and the annual running of the Boston Marathon. Run it yourself with this virtual route.

3) Peter Sagal, the host of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” is a funny guy who writes an occasionally serious post on his blog. Today, he’s considering the differences between the hatred of the Bush administration:

Back to our current disputes, which has already begun to have subtle and not-so-subtle echoes of the Civil War. There is a lot of similarity to those who say “I want my country back,” and those who demand the restoration of our Constitution, whether they did those things in 2004 or 2010. But there must be, and I think there is, a profound difference, if only because of the nature and policies of the regime they are protesting. But let us judge not, lest we be judged.

4) Sure, now that biking season is at hand, we could revisit the tired, old bike vs. car debate. But why not just drop in on the bike vs. bike discussion, instead.

5) Let’s go to work today with all the enthusiasm and inspiration of Eddie Feibusch. He’s 86 years old now and he’s spent almost 70 years doing what somebody’s got to do — sell people zippers.


The St. Paul School Board will vote this week on whether to cut elementary band and orchestra programs, as well as middle school athletics. What extracurricular programs had an important impact on your life?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour The complexity of international adoptions. The Russian government suspended adoptions of children by U.S. citizens after a Tennessee woman sent her adopted child back to his Russian homeland. While many international adoptions go smoothly, experts say adopted children often have complex emotional and psychological issues that may not surface until much later.

Second hour: The Decision Tree. In an age when an overwhelming amount of medical information is at our fingertips, how do we make smart, informed health care decisions? A new book aims to help readers take control of their own medical destinies with an innovative system called “The Decision Tree.” (Rebroadcast)

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page and his wife, Diane Sims Page, of the Page Education Foundation discuss education policies and the achievement gap.

Second hour: TBA

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Education secretary Arne Duncan.

Second hour: A search-and-rescue dog handler talks about calling on man’s best friend to help look for the lost.

  • vjacobsen

    While I do completely agree that calls to resume flights are premature, the flip side is that there are lots of people stuck, very, very far from home. A friend has been in London, and the volcano erupted the day she was supposed to fly back. She had a flight booked today– it obviously was canceled. Her post on facebook this morning says she a flight on Friday. FRIDAY! While some comments on her post are of the “wow, you are so lucky” attitude, others are checking in to make sure she’s OK. It’s got to be stressful.