Thursday, August 21, 2008

If I cared more, my ego would be more bruised than my bum.

After a two day heat-wave/sunny streak we got our rain back. That's fine, I got my fill of vitamin D and I got my annual sunburn. I'll get skin cancer but at least I'll be happy for a day or two.

Now, and this could be another of my made up scientific theories, but it could be true... I think that when it is hot out (which it totally was in Juneau, I swear) the asphalt (a derivative of petroleum) releases some oils or something. When it rains again, the asphalt is particularly slick. I feel like this is legitimate, but then again, it wouldn't be the first time I made up a completely legitimate sounding theory.

The reason I am theorizing about asphalt and weather variations is because this morning, I looked like an ass.

I'm an aggressive pedestrian, I believe that, since I am out in the elements and in just as much a hurry, a car should allow me to cross. I saw cars coming at a reasonable stopping distance so I crossed the street, holding up about 5 cars in their morning commute. I put my hand up in the, 'thanks' wave and then immediately slipped and fell on my ass in the middle of the road. I feel like I was sitting there for ages but it was probably only a half second before I righted myself and continued on my way with my head held high. When I got to the sidewalk safely I swore like a sailor, cursing the slick asphalt and going over the asphalt theory.

Overall, I find it hilarious. I am lucky to be one who can laugh at herself, rather than being a horribly serious type. That doesn't mean I didn't try to come up with an excuse for my lack of grace though. I've been researching the properties of asphalt in an attempt to prove my theory:

Asphalt, black, cementlike material varying in consistency at room temperature from solid to semisolid. It can be poured when heated to the temperature of boiling water and is used in surfacing roads, in lining the walls of water-retaining structures such as reservoirs and swimming pools, and in manufacturing floor tiles and roofing materials. It is not to be confused with tar, a black substance derived from coal, wood, and other substances.

Asphalt is found in natural deposits, but almost all of the asphalt used commercially is now derived from petroleum. Straight-run asphalts, which are made up of the nonvolatile hydrocarbons left after petroleum has been refined into gasoline and other products, are used for paving. Air-blown asphalts, produced from petroleum residues at temperatures of from 204° to 316°C (400° to 600°F), are used to make roofing materials and similar products. A small amount of asphalt is “cracked” at temperatures of about 500°C (about 930°F) to make some insulation materials.

Natural asphalt was used extensively in ancient times. Ancient Babylonians used it as a building material, and it is referred to several times in the Old Testament books of Genesis and Exodus as a caulking material (see Bitumen). Natural deposits of asphalt occur in pits or lakes as residue from crude petroleum that has seeped up through fissures in the earth. Typical of these deposits are the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles, in which the remains of prehistoric flora and fauna have been found. A natural asphalt pool is Pitch Lake, Trinidad. Deposits of asphalt-impregnated rock, called rock asphalt, are found throughout the world. An asphalt deposit of some commercial importance is Gilsonite, also called uintaite, found in the Uinta River Basin of Utah and used in the manufacture of paints and lacquers.

The use of asphalt for street paving in the United States began in 1870; by 1903 more than 35 million sq m (about 42 million sq yd) of U.S. streets were paved with asphalt. Today, asphalt derived from petroleum is used to surface about 90 percent of paved roads in the United States. About 75 percent of the more than 24 million metric tons of asphalt produced in the United States each year is used for this purpose(MSN Encarta).


THIS JUST IN: 5:53pm

Either I'm a genius or this journalist made up the same theory...

1 comment:

Myron Davis said...

I think you're right...

I think asphalt leaches chemicals and stuff into the surrounding area, that is why roads with time get less and less black and the oil based substances leach away.