Posted July 7, 2017
Ever since the early 1960s, when Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys popularized the “California Sound” and surf music, the union of surfing and sunny Southern California has been “epic,” “cranking,” “radical” – all surfing shorthand for awesome. You can surf in other states, but it’s hard to beat Cali for catchin’ a wave and sitting on top of the world.
Energy makes wave-catching “epic.”
Sure, surfing is riding high on the waves, the sun glinting in your eyes and the briny smell of the ocean in your nostrils. It’s also that surfboard under your feet, which is where energy comes in. Whether you choose a shortboard, funboard or go with an old-school longboard, energy keeps you cruising on the crest of the Pacific Ocean’s chilly blue water.
While the ancient Polynesians and then Hawaiians used wooden surfboards for their sport, since the 1950s most surfboards have been made using layers of petroleum-based products to create durable, light and buoyant boards.
Posted July 5, 2017
It’s summertime, and the living is easy in South Carolina. This time of year it’s hard to beat a little bit of porch-sitting and sweet-tea sipping. A little whisper of a breeze and a cool drink feel pretty good as the temperatures rise and the air thickens. The living is as easy as parking yourself in a rocker, a hammock or a porch swing – with a pitcher of sweet tea nearby.
Iced tea is the national drink of summer. About 80 percent of the 3.8 billion gallons of tea consumed in the U.S. in 2016 was iced, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. In South Carolina it must be sweet tea. Unsweetened tea is what Brits drink hot and Yankees drink cold. (And neither of those affinities is held in much regard in Savannah or Charleston.) However you like your tea, energy figures prominently in the mix. Natural gas and oil help nearly every step along the way, from drying the tea leaves, to packaging the tea bags to the manufacture of sweet tea jugs. Making things better – it’s what modern, versatile energy goes.
Posted July 3, 2017
When Huck Finn and Jim floated down the Mississippi on their river raft, the waters around them swirled and frothed in the wake of massive, wedding cake-tiered riverboats, their paddle wheels churning the “Big Muddy” while tall, fluted stacks belched sparks and clouds of black smoke.
The golden era of riverboat transportation is gone, yet along the state of Mississippi’s western boundary, marked by its river namesake for some 350 miles, descendants of those proud, historic river belles still ply Ol Man River.
With names that include the Steamboat Natchez, American Queen, Queen of the Mississippi and American Duchess, the current incarnations of the boats that were familiar to Mark Twain evoke some nostalgia for a different era – while deploying modern energy to paddle up and down waterways safely, more efficiently and more comfortably for today’s passengers.
Posted June 30, 2017
Ah, NASCAR and North Carolina. They’re like a fantastic couple on a fine summer day: close, warm and comfortable. Their easy relationship surely reflects stock car racing’s deep roots in the Tar Heel State – based on innovation and energy-driven technologies, resulting in pure, heart-pounding excitement. Energy makes it so – in the materials, components, fuels and more that thrill racing fans all across the country.
Posted June 28, 2017
A recognized piece of American pop culture, Capt. James T. Kirk’s dog-eared quotation actually stands up pretty well as a rallying cry for space exploration and the U.S. space program in general. Somewhere, Mr. Spock raises an eyebrow and nods.
Folks at NASA probably would applaud. On a hot, summer day in Houston, parents drop off their children at the space agency’s Johnson Space Center for a day-camp filled with STEM activities and awe-inspiring sights. Who knows, the next John Glenn might be one of the kids goofing off as the campers venture into one of the center’s newest attractions.
The Mission Mars exhibit features Orion, NASA’s Mars-bound spacecraft that one day, NASA says, will “take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before.” Echoes of Capt. Kirk. Campers get to touch fabricated Martian rocks, view a Martian sunset and learn how Orion’s 33.9 million-mile journey is possible. From the propellants fueling the shuttle to the petroleum-based materials in Orion’s landing parachute, energy will take us to the planets and bring us home again.
Posted June 26, 2017
Folks play golf year-round in Arizona. That’s an option when your state capital/largest city can be found in the “Valley of the Sun,” right? Warm temps … sunshine … just add water – for greens so immaculately manicured you could shoot a game of pool on them, and soft, rolling fairways that cradle a long, straight drive, setting up an easy chip to the pin – or, if you’re Jordan Spieth, a bunker shot that you hole out to win the Travelers Championship playoff.
Here’s the scoop: If you like golf, you must like energy. Natural gas and oil help make today’s golf a game of leveraged power – enjoyed on exquisite courses and made enjoyable by energy, from well-fertilized courses to equipment crafted with space-age materials. Natural gas and oil make a good game even better.
Posted June 23, 2017
It’s a day and a half into an old-fashioned driving vacation on historic Route 66. Oklahoma is just over the next hill, about a third of the way along the highway’s 2,400 miles. The road ahead is clear, the Ford Mustang is humming – and with Tom Petty wailing “Free Fallin’” over the car’s sound system – it’s a little like a scene from “Jerry Maguire.” Freedom on the open road.
Well, mostly freedom. Within view of the Oklahoma state line, the car’s fuel indicator winks on. The Mustang’s getting thirsty. No problem. Billboards rising over gently rolling, brown landscape point to gas stations just inside the Sooner State – at Quapaw and also Commerce, Mickey Mantle’s boyhood home.
You pick Commerce, a nod to “The Mick’s” memory. While the Mustang quenches its thirst, you scan a state map, looking for attractions along 66’s storied route.
Posted June 21, 2017
On a clear June morning in Kansas, a farmer inspects his hard red winter wheat crop and notes that it has turned from green to a shade of gold. He takes a bite out of a kernel to test for hardness, and then he knows his crop is ready to harvest and turn into flour at the nearby mill. He climbs into his combine and works quickly to cut the stock and separate and crush the grain before the next rain comes.
Often weighing more than 40,000 pounds, the combine is the most important piece of equipment at a wheat farmer’s disposal. The large, gasoline/diesel-powered machine, manufactured by companies including John Deere and International Harvester, efficiently cuts the wheat and threshes it, separating the kernels of grain and discarding the leftover straw. Like so many aspects of modern life, harvesting the wheat that goes into our daily bread and many other food products is an energy process.
Posted June 19, 2017
Mounted on the conference room wall of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s Washington, D.C., office is the one that didn’t get away – “Walter,” a 63-pound King salmon that the senator fished out of the Kenai River in her home state a few years ago. In a video tour of her office, Murkowski says just about everyone who comes to visit her in D.C. wants their photo snapped with “Walter” in the background.
King salmon is king in Alaska.
This time of year, sport fishermen, tourists, Native Americans and others are checking charts and tables that track salmon “runs,” when King (also known as Chinook) salmon – as well as Sockeye, Coho, Pink and Dog salmon – make their way from the oceans to freshwater spawning areas inland.
Murkowski’s “Walter” is a whopper. Yet, the King salmon people fish for rarely weigh less than 30 pounds, so your rod and especially the line you’re using better be up to the task. That’s where energy comes in – one of countless ways oil and natural gas are helpful parts of our work and play every day.
Posted June 16, 2017
The basket slowly rises, and you flash back to that runaway balloon that nearly spoiled your fifth birthday – except that the balloon above your head right now is about seven stories high, a big bag of hot air bringing flight to the wicker-basket gondola that’s your vehicle to a world between heaven and earth.
The balloon floats higher and higher over New Mexico’s Moreno Valley, about a hundred miles northeast of Santa Fe. Wheeler Peak, at more than 13,000 feet the highest natural point in the state, towers to the north. High-mountain meadows and rolling prairies fan out to the east.
New Mexico’s Balloons Over Angel Fire event makes for a perfect Father’s Day weekend. Pilots travel from across the state and from as far away as Colorado and Oklahoma to the village of Angel Fire for the 5,000-person, three-day event. Filling the sky with 40 colorful balloons takes a lot of energy – from the fabrics used in their construction to the fuel that heats the air. The result is one of the country’s most spectacular outdoor events, brought by natural gas and oil.