Daily Update: Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

03-28 - Three Mile Island

With no Saints to honor, we will remember that on this date in 1979 the Three Mile Island accident happened at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg.

The Three Mile Island accident began at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28th, 1979 (twelve days after the release of The China Syndrome, which dealt with a major accident at a nuclear power plant), with failures in the non-nuclear secondary system, followed by a stuck-open pilot-operated relief valve (PORV) in the primary system, which allowed large amounts of nuclear reactor coolant to escape. The mechanical failures were compounded by the initial failure of plant operators to recognize the situation as a loss-of-coolant accident due to inadequate training and human factors, such as human-computer interaction design oversights relating to ambiguous control room indicators in the power plant’s user interface. In particular, a hidden indicator light led to an operator manually overriding the automatic emergency cooling system of the reactor because the operator mistakenly believed that there was too much coolant water present in the reactor and causing the steam pressure release. The scope and complexity of the accident became clear over the course of five days, as employees of Met Ed, Pennsylvania state officials, and members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) tried to understand the problem, communicate the situation to the press and local community, decide whether the accident required an emergency evacuation, and ultimately end the crisis. On April 1st President Jimmy Carter (who had been a Lieutenant in the U. S. Navy working with nuclear energy) toured the control room while wearing yellow protective boots. The NRC’s authorization of the release of 40,000 gallons of radioactive waste water directly in the Susquehanna River led to a loss of credibility with the press and community. In the end, the reactor was brought under control, although full details of the accident were not discovered until much later, following extensive investigations by both a presidential commission and the NRC. The Kemeny Commission Report concluded that “there will either be no case of cancer or the number of cases will be so small that it will never be possible to detect them. The same conclusion applies to the other possible health effects”. Several epidemiological studies in the years since the accident have supported the conclusion that radiation released from the accident had no perceptible effect on cancer incidence in residents near the plant, though these findings are contested by one team of researchers. The Three Mile Island accident inspired Charles Perrow’s Normal Accident Theory, in which an accident occurs resulting from an unanticipated interaction of multiple failures in a complex system. (Not unlike what happened with the nuclear reactors in Japan after the March 11th, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.)

Last night our New Orleans Pelicans lost their NBA game with the Utah Jazz by the score of 100 to 108.

I woke up ½ hour early for work, and I did my Book Devotional Reading. I finished packing for our vacation, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. We signed the Early Out List at the casino. When we got in, instead of being assigned tables, both Richard and I were now Extras, and we were out with no time. We headed home, arriving at 4:00 am, and I flipped to the next month in our wall Calendars, and we changed out of our casino clothes and Finished loading up the car.

We left the house on our vacation at 4:15 am, with the car’s mileage at 19623. At 5:30 am we were having a big breakfast at Louie’s Café on State Street while we read the Baton Rouge Advocate (as usual, the hash browns were to die for. We were on the road again at 6:15 am; it was far too early to consider going to see Butch at the rehab center.  I continued reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. We reached Mississippi at 7:45 am, crossed over into Alabama at 9:00 am, and went through Mobile at 9:00 am. I finished reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy, we reached Florida at 10:00 am, and I did my book review for this Weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for The Road by Cormac McCarthy. At 12:30 pm we ate lunch at the McDonald’s on Marianna. Back on the road, I read the March 2017 issue of Consumer Reports, and continued reading Messenger by Lois Lowry via Overdrive on my tablet. We reached Eastern Daylight Time at 1:00 pm CDT (2:00 pm EDT). 

At 2:45 pm we checked in at the Quality Inn and Suites in Tallahassee. I texted Callie to let her know when we would arrive tomorrow (more anan), finished  reading Messenger by Lois Lowry via Overdrive, and did my book review for this Weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for Messenger by Lois Lowry. We ate a very good dinner at Backwoods Crossing, and at 7:30 pm we watched Jeopardy!. And I will now go to bed.  Our #10 LSU Lady Tigers (27-7, 4-2) are playing a Home College Softball game with the University of Louisiana Monroe Lady Warhawks.

With no Saints to honor tomorrow, we note that it was on tomorrow’s date in 1882 that the Knights of Columbus organization was founded. Richard and I will drive from Tallahassee to the kids house outside of Charleston, South Carolina. Our New Orleans Pelicans (31-43, 5-10) will be playing a home Nba game with the Dallas Mavericks (31-42, 4-8).

Our Parting Quote on this Tuesday evening comes to us from Richard Griffiths, English actor. Born in 1947 in Thornaby-on-Tees, North Riding of Yorkshire, his father was a steelworker who fought in pubs for money. His parents were both deaf, and he learned sign language at an early age to communicate with them. During his childhood he attempted to run away from home many times. He dropped out of school at age 15 and worked as a porter for Littlewoods for a while, but his boss eventually convinced him to go back to school. He decided to attend a drama class at Stockton & Billingham College. He continued his education in drama at Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama (present-day Manchester School of Theatre). After graduating Griffiths earned a spot on BBC Radio. He also worked in small theatres, sometimes acting and sometimes managing. He built up an early reputation as a Shakespearean clown with portrayals of the Constable in The Comedy of Errors and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and went on to play the King in Henry VIII. He eventually settled in Manchester and began to get lead roles in plays. From there he began to appear on television and then got his big break in films in It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet (1975). By the early 1980s he was selected for the lead role in the BBC drama serial Bird of Prey, an early computer-conspiracy thriller. His character, Henry Jay, was reprised in Bird of Prey 2 (1984). In 1981 he also gave a memorable performance as Chilean secret police victim William Beausire in an edition of the BBC Prisoners of Conscience series. Griffiths was considered for the part of the Doctor in Doctor Who following Tom Baker’s departure in 1981, but was unavailable. He went on to supporting roles in a number of major films, including The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Chariots of Fire, and Gandhi. On stage, in 1985–86 he performed the role of Verdi in Julian Mitchell’s After Aida, in Wales and at the Old Vic Theatre in London. Griffiths’ film roles were in both contemporary and period pieces such as Gorky Park (1983), Withnail and I (1987), King Ralph (1991), The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991), Guarding Tess (1994) and Sleepy Hollow (1999). Later, he was seen as Harry Potter’s cruel uncle Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter series (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1). From 1994 to 1997 he appeared as Inspector Henry Crabbe, disillusioned policeman and chef extraordinaire, in the British detective drama Pie in the Sky, a role which was created specifically for him. He also made an extended appearance in the 2005 version of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. In 2004 he originated the role of Hector (the teacher) in Alan Bennett’s play The History Boys, directed by Nicholas Hytner, winning the 2005 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor. During a June 2005 performance he ordered a man out of the National Theatre, London, when his mobile phone went off for the sixth time during the performance. The actor stopped in the middle of his lines, fixed the offender with an icy stare and said: “I am asking you to stand up, leave this auditorium and never, ever come back”. Other members of the audience applauded as the man left the theatre. During the play’s subsequent United States run, he added a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Tony Award. He reprised his role in the film version which was released in October 2006. He was awarded an honorary degree from Teesside University in 2006 and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours. Together with his Harry Potter co-star Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter, he appeared in a stage revival of Peter Shaffer’s Equus at the Gielgud Theatre in London, and later from October 2008 in a short run of the play at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway which ended in February 2009. Later in 2009 he replaced Michael Gambon as W.H. Auden prior to the premiere of The Habit of Art at the National Theatre, once again directed by Hytner. Griffiths has also performed in adaptations of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, providing the voice for Slartibartfast for the radio adaptation of Life, the Universe and Everything and playing the Vogon Jeltz in the film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Griffiths appeared as King George II in 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. In April 2012 Griffiths starred, with Danny DeVito, in a revival of the Neil Simon play The Sunshine Boys (died 2013): “If I had my way, all actors over 55 would be issued a 3-lb. wet salmon with which to slap the face of every young, beautiful, successful upstart. ‘That’s for being so lucky, you bastard!’ I would shout. And then, hit them again, if you can.”

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