Monday, March 31, 2008

Earthquake signs save lives

Ha! San Bozodino has great faith in their signs: "If there's an earthquake, this building will kill you. Now, come in and enjoy 50% savings!"

Nothing to worry about, the next earthquake will clean out these buildings anyway....

3M fun ended

I've had *way* too much fun with this. They are sending me my replacement strips. Even if they still don't work, it won't be fun to raise this again. I mean, that would be just *pitiful*!

$100K list is out!

Oh joyful day! The wonderful $100K list is now out! Of course, with inflation and everything, absolutely everybody in OPG is now on the list.

Wasn't like that when it first came out. We poured over it, like finding Santa's naughty list! We were stunned when people who we thought were completely useless, ended up on the list. They had gotten overtime for doing nothing! We found so much phony overtime, it was unbelievable. Of course, the next minute, management put in a complete ban on embarrassing overtime, which probably lasted -- a minute!

I wonder if other people had as much fun as we did.

Being grouchy about Earth Hour

Yeah, somebody is grouchier than me! Bah, Humbug!

Personally, I think if Nellie can drum it into my kids' heads to turn off the dang-tootin' lights, then more 'power' to her!

3M Command Strips Continued

I just sent this letter, after visiting every 'big box' store around!

Dear Jill, in anticipation of receiving the coupon in some manner, at some time, I set out to search for replacement strips. Did you know that you can't get them anywhere? Even on the internet? In fact, I can't find this product anywhere. I was 'lucky' to get the last one at Rona!

Even if I found some strips somewhere, I fear they will be the last ones, as well. Specifically:

A - they will be a lot more than $5

B - they will be as old as sin, and all dried out

I would suggest that you explore alternatives, such as sending me a replacement set of 8 strips, ripe and juicy, straight from the lab! If you have to go 'up the line' for this, I could provide an internet writing campaign 'Give Harold his Strips!". My blog fans are quite insane! I regret that I cannot return it to the store, since I opened it on Recycle Day. Besides, returning things always gives me anxiety attacks.

Thank you for your efforts so far.

ADDENDUM

This fun makes up for the money I lost. Here's my Youtube video, where I'm trying to test the new higher resolution. Looks the same to me.

Siemens Suffers from Nuclear Flu

Yes, the old stock value has taken a beating. Even mighty Siemens has found that building a nuclear plant is a bit too much to chew. Who is going to inform the politicians that their dream of sloughing off all the risk to the private sector is just a fantasy?

These things are always twice as expensive, and take twice as long. It is the "Law of the Nuclear Plant". In China or Romania, they can hide things, but not in the real world! If the plant actually works at the end, it is still a good deal for Society, who might not have any power otherwise, but the public has to pay the piper.

So, let's grow up, roll our eyes, and hope the Americans now cancel all their plants, so we can get some decent AP1000's. Otherwise, we are stuck with building ACR1000's with their wonky physics.

The French still can't do concrete!

Concrete is not cheese! It shouldn't resemble cheese in any manner. Cheesy concrete is a curse on humanity!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Computer worm breezes through Health Canada

I love reading about these things, since it is my contention that a Microsoft Worm caused the big North American blackout. This time the computers at Health Canada were knocked out, and if we were in the middle of an epidemic, we would have been screwed, or why keep these people employed?

They always say that patches were 'available', but nobody had them in yet. Could it be that some MS patches are worse than nothing? I feel sorry for those people that maintain these things, except they get $1.5 million in overtime! And then they set up for another party!

ps. all the computers at the Disaster(ous) Call Centre are MS! (except they're not allow to talk to anybody!)

Tanzanite, the new blood diamond

Tanzanite was a mineral I've never heard of, until I read of a massive miner death. These people dig single shafts hundreds of feet deep, and when the rains come, they all drown like worms. Tanzanite has had a checkered history, sometimes pulled off the shelf, and put back when things cool down.

Of course, we all know that diamonds nowadays are all 'pure' as 'legal' ivory. Since Tanzanite is all heat-treated anyway, I'd rather buy synthetic ruby as a gemstone....

Intelligent Designer makes Face of Doom!

There it is! Proof that the volcano in Hawaii is going to kill us all!

As the sulfur-laden Face of Doom ascends into the heavens, it will rain death and destruction on all of us non-believers (in Intelligent Design). Of course, the other people will be collateral damage....

Too lazy to hack Linux

Linux survives the hacking contest! The funniest thing was reading some of the Apple extremists saying the only reason the Apple was hacked first was that the mac-air was the more desirable machine, and they tried harder. Perhaps nobody wanted the Sony laptop with Linux!

Daughter takes one for the team!


You see the patch? 5 stitches! She is so proud of them, especially since they are blue! All the other girls were in great admiration. I got to see 2 periods of the Leaf game, waiting in the hospital.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Areva ever eager

Always keen to keep their thumb in, Areva issues another, rather useless, news conference. First of all, the Alberta thing is a joke. Second, if we want to wait forever for a nuclear vessel, we should go with the Ap1000, which is a better design.

Michael Geist is into everything!

We've got to get this guy into Project NEUTRON! Maybe if he realizes how much money flows through these hearings, he'll be interested in prying some of it out for the public good.

Our very own UF6 plant

I didn't realize we did UF6. What I don't know is if we also have some Iranian centrifuges to concentrate the U235 and produce enriched fuel. We should do this work, since the next generation of nuclear plants all use enriched fuel.

Friday, March 28, 2008

3M Command Strips for Shower a Washout

I wanted to put up a soap dish in the shower. Being a big fan of 3M, I decided to try their command strips for the shower. I bought it at Rona. The strips seemed a bit dry, but I followed all the instructions. It stuck well, but as soon as water splashed on it, the soap dish committed suicide. I tried it a second time, with more pressure. Sure enough, I splashed on some water and it flung off! Here is my note to 3M:

Dear Sir, I just bought the Command shower caddy from Rona. As
an engineer, I am stunned by the total failure of this product. I am a devote
follower of instructions, and both times, the strips practically flung
themselves off the shower wall as soon as water hit them. It's a smooth
tile with a gentle ripple. Suction cups stick well to it.

The strips seemed dry, and a bit old. Do they age? I also suppose that we
could have a batch batch. They didn't even stick well to the hangers.

I never call these help centres. I might just outline my horrible
experience in my technical blog, but I have to say that I gave you a chance.

And I got a reply right away:

Dear Harold,

Thank you for contacting 3M Canada.

We would very much like to correct the difficulty you have had with the 3M
Command(TM) Shower Caddy, and we appreciate the opportunity to do so. It
is distressing to learn that a product has not exceeded our customers'
expectations.

It is possible for the adhesive strips to dry out over time; if the strips
are older, or if they have been exposed at any time to extreme
temperatures, their adhesion can be affected.

We would be more than happy to send a $5 coupon that can be used towards
replacement adhesive strips, or any 3M product of your choice. Please
ensure that you are using the Command(TM) Water Resistant Strips 17605BC
(3M stock number 70071493442) which are blue in colour. These strips are
designed to adhere even in a humid environment, such as a bathroom.

We are confident that the replacement will be the quality that you have
come to expect from 3M.

If we can be of further assistance to you please do not hesitate to contact
our Customer Care Centre at 1-800-364-3577 (1-800-3M HELPS).

Thank you for your inquiry and your interest in 3M products.

Best regards,

Jill
Customer Care Centre
3M Canada Company

Now, I can't tell if they are actually sending me the coupon, or I still have to go through a horrible call centre. Since I included my address, I shall assume the coupon is coming.

Britain tries to out-hustle Ontario

Boy, the old testosterone must be bubbling up in those Ontario politicians, who have totally taken over nuclear. Britain has thrown down the gauntlet saying "We're #1!".

How will Ontario take this? Go instantly to the ACR1000? This should be interesting.

Nuclear power or rivers

Interesting perspective. Destroy a thousand waterfalls, or a twin nuclear plant. I think the same goes with putting up thousands of bird whackers.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pt. Lepreau retubing

Pt. Lepreau in NB is undergoing the same thing that old Pickering A did. Mainly, all the interior pressure tubes will be replaced, and the old tubes shoved in the backyard in questionable casks.

The real question is the condition of the steam generators. Can they really last the next 25 years? Pickering A had to give up on 2 reactors, and Bruce is replacing them.

AECL press release

You've got to love the concept of a press release. If you look at Canadian press releases there are an awful lot of them per day, all pushing something. A press release is useless if it just hangs in limbo, it has to be picked up by content-hungry newspapers.

So, this press release is a classic, picking up on something that may have happened a while ago, and polishing it up to make it look current. I'm picking it up in my blog, just so they are happy! (maybe not!).

Project NEUTRON - Open Source Nuclear Hearings

We are starting a new open source project - NEUTRON, which doesn't stand for anything yet. Unlike programs, this project will give credit for those who get stuff out of OPG, stuff that benefits an open society.

Here is the manifesto:

It is time to call an end to closed-source and proprietary nuclear hearings. These only benefit an inbred group of lawyers, consultants, newspapers, regulators, and local politicians. We wish to spread the booty over many more people!

We need volunteers in the following areas:

Someone to think up a neato acronym for NEUTRON.

Starting up a flash-in-the-pan Facebook group, demanding open source

Getting those 'Next great primeminister' guys to do youtube videos.

Organizing 'Mystery Bus Tours' to the next hidden hearing.

Somebody to get something unscripted from the hidden bureaucrats of OPG.

Any other thing.

OPG starts hiding its Darlington hearings

Yeah! OPG starts its obscure hearings on the new Darlington nuclear plants! They are going 'as far away' as Cobourg! I can't go, because I would probably seize up and die, which would interfere with my fishing! (yeah, summer's coming!).

If anybody does attend, remember that you can't stop them jamming a plant at Darlington, but you might get an earthquake scenario out of it! They would pay any money to keep things quiet. Use it for a societal good!

If people mention my blog at the hearings, maybe they'll pay me to keep quiet!

Dirty bomb scenario in Toronto

This sounds really neat! A scenario involving a dirty bomb on the 401 in rush hour. This involves a lot of hospitals, and its hard to tell if the main OPP call centre is involved.

Maybe I'll live long enough to see an earthquake scenario, which I think has a slightly better chance than this one.

Texas reactor costs climb

Blah, blah. Yet another US utility has come to realize the worthlessness of the dollar, and has upped the cost estimates of a new nuclear plant. I think they are still way under the estimate, their price is sooo yesterday!

Still, the best time to build a new nuclear plant is during a recession.

GE splits itself in two

I always thought GE would bid with its crap boiling water design. In fact, I included it in my review. Some people are shocked, shocked that the US GE would bid against the tiny Peterborough GE, who is tied to Candu.

Boy, I sure wish I could attend those parties now!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Danes believe Greenpeece Reports

I just came across this article, which is amazing for the fact that somebody believes a GP report. On the other hand, only the French could screw up concrete!

Earthquake Scenario - 2

Benefits to the Community

When a major earthquake occurs in a community where policy makers and the public are unaware of an earthquake risk and have not taken steps to address that risk, losses to buildings, infrastructure, the economy, and lives can be catastrophic. Buildings that are not engineered for seismic safety may collapse or become uninhabitable. Transportation networks may be severed, affecting the lives of commuters and workers. Disruption of utility systems may result; fire and chemical releases may interrupt critical services, and threaten life safety. Landslides and, in coastal communities, tsunamis, may also cause further severe losses.

A well crafted scenario provides a powerful tool for members of private industry, government officials, and the general public to begin to draft mitigation policies and programs. It will help the community weigh various risks associated with the earthquake and begin to set priorities that will systematically reduce the impact of the likely future event.

The basic idea here is to reduce the impact of the earthquake, and to be able to get back to normal as soon as possible. Obviously, one can take a "Bring it on!" attitude, but these things can really work. For example, I would predict that firehalls on soft soils would get their doors jammed in an earthquake. Wouldn't they look foolish? What would they do? How would they prevent this from happening in the first place?

Japan nuclear plant to be shut down a long time

This is going to be a long time for a plant that wasn't really damaged much (har, har!). Most of the work involves inspections, since they still contend they didn't find much. I contribute this to the horrendously complex boiling water reactor, which is nearly impossible to inspect. And what are they looking for?

This is a lesson for our own nuclear operators. In an earthquake, you are going to have the exact same damage as Tepco, and you will have a lot of egg on your collective faces. The earthquake will bring out all the errors of the past. Since the Candu design is a 'plumber's nightmare', you will have trouble inspecting, so that the plants will be closed a long time.

This is not good for a province which depends so much on nuclear power. As in Japan, a lot of carbon will be burnt while the inspectors fiddle.

Bell starts bittorrent throttling

I haven't seen it yet, but I now take back my assertion that the DSL phone line is better than cable for downloads. Of course, it depends on the extent of the throttling, yada, yada.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Guidelines for developing an earthquake scenario


As outlined in my wiki article (which amazingly has survived intact!), an earthquake scenario is a planning tool. For this article, I am just outlining some of the points in the EERI publication.

First, why would a city (or province!) want an earthquake scenario?

Scenarios are widely used to better understand and help plan for the future. A successful scenario tells the story of a defined earthquake and its specific impacts. It draws the reader in by incorporating familiar aspects of the community that they can readily recognize. It helps decision makers to visualize specific impacts that are based on currently accepted scientific and engineering knowledge.

See? A scenario is not something to be scared of! It's not like you're admitting that a great white shark is cruising the beaches! It's just a boring planning tool.

Scenarios help to challenge assumptions. Conflicts that arise between planners when constructing a scenario can help to clarify issues or areas where knowledge is lacking. Challenges from other agencies provide new views which would not be possible if disaster planning occurred privately or individually.

There is nothing worse than the current assumptions for Western Lake Ontario, and the Ottawa Valley.

What can ordinary people do? Emergency Measures Ontario is just a big police call centre, they don't have the flexibility to spend money. I would suggest that if anybody finds the next OPG regulatory hearing (perhaps held in the Ajax Pickle Factory!), then they raise the point about regional earthquake planning. After all, it affects the safety of the plant, if everybody is running around like headless chickens! They might slough off responsibility, but they are the only ones that can make things happen (along with the sleepy CNSC!).

*Note to CNSC: If you want to restore your reputation after gutted out all your brains, then you should jump on this!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sparcs with laser beams attached to their heads

Sun is going for a very nifty computer project. They can now align chips very precisely along their edge, so now they think they can put in a laser wave guide. This would allow megachips to be assembled without the problem with wafer-scale integration (one tiny defect ruins the whole thing!).

ps. the paraphrased quote from Dr. Evil was lifted from somebody else.

Cities prepare with earthquake scenarios

This week I am looking at earthquake scenarios. Many facilities and cities are preparing them, and sometimes running through them with actual drills. The area around Seattle is quite a hot zone for earthquake risk. Forgetting about the 'super' M9 quake, there are things one can do for a smaller earthquake. They have a lot of water and soft soils, so the expected damage is appreciable.

Evolution funnies

There's absolutely nothing going on in the nuclear or earthquake biz, but go over to Science Notes, and see all the funny things going on with the evolution crowd. This is something I totally stay away from!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

50 year old 'peace' symbol

I thought this was neat, the old 'peace' rocket ship is 50 years old.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Finland nuclear waste

I found some more stuff on Finland and its nuclear waste. Like Bruce, they had to settle on a site right by a nuclear plant, but at least it looks like decent geology. The whiners are whining that maybe they could have picked a more solid piece of solid granite. Come on! Look at the other shit that countries are trying to pawn off! Can you imagine Japan finding a piece of solid rock?

Final whining is about the next ice age, where maybe a teensy weensy bit of fuel might leak out. They don't mention that the available water will increase a thousand times, and there will be a zillion more tons of radioactivity released by the ice grinding up nasty granite. Been there, done that, lots of times!

Nuclear hearings in the middle of nowhere

I just like accumulating a list of nuclear hearings. Here's the all-important Pickering hearing set in Ajax. Does any nuclear plant have such a long list of boo-boos? Will any of this come out at the hearings? Will anybody be there? Won't lots of people be happy if nobody is there? Those hearings are a bit sad, really....

Alberta is going for another nuclear panel

Jeez, we've got nuclear panels up to our ears! Not one has started yet. I am sure they can find a lot of the half-dead old guys that are responsible for some of the messes we are in now.

I can't imagine life on a panel. It would be like jury duty! They run these things the way they did a 100 years ago! It would be so good to get submissions by youtube, and broadcast via bittorrent. Panelists could keep running blogs. Just having lawyers read out pages they haven't written is horrible!

Another Candu - Avro Arrow thing

Hello everybody, the Arrow was a horribly expensive technical marvel that this country couldn't afford (much like some nuclear company I can't mention anymore!). You can read the irony in this article, in that the company takes components from other countries and assembles them. Well, there would be lots of work like that for any reactor, simply because that's how you build one!

Now that we can't talk about this anymore, I was dying to ask the Westinghouse people, how long would we have to wait for a reactor vessel? If it's like 5 years (Japan steel is supposed to double its capacity), then it's okay to go with them.

Nuclear blogs muzzled by Ontario

Yep, nobody can discuss the new nuclear plants for Ontario. Good thing I slipped in my comments before all this. Actually, all the information is out there, this will prevent public pressure, and lots of advertising.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The world's worst nuclear waste

Really, you shouldn't get this horrible stuff, mixed up with legitimate underground fuel storage, like Finland is doing. This stuff is the liquid plutonium left over from making bombs. Even Homer Simpson couldn't last 5 minutes with this stuff!

Hayward fault scenario

In California, they go big with the earthquakes! This Hayward fault earthquake scenario is severe. We don't do earthquake scenarios in Ontario, but there would be a lot less death and destruction. We would just have a generally miserable time.

Darlington nuclear moves up to next step

I have no idea what this means. It looks like they are going to find another 'magic panel' to review the environmental assessment. They have so many of these panels up in the air, that maybe I'll be on one! (NOT!). I haven't heard of any one of them finalizing.

The problem with these things is that they leave all the important stuff off the agenda. The trick of making a truly useless panel is to restrict the scope. For example, an environmental assessment is restricted to determining the effect of the plant on the environment, not the other way around. When you do want to raise the seismic issue later, they say it was covered already.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Finland deals with nuclear storage

It's refreshing to read about rational things. Finland seems to have it's act together, and because it is a northern country, it needs nuclear energy. Wind power can help, but it could never support a high-tech country.

They might start site work soon, and I'm looking forward to reading about it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Earthquakes prove deadly to chickens

Did they accurately predict it, and were terrified?

Is the Alberta nuclear plan a phony diversion?

It looks that way from this article. Bringing coals to Newcastle! Could be just a plan to keep Bruce Power in the headlines. Might mean they realize they can't build another plant at Bruce, due to transmission line choke-up. (A new plant means new transmission lines over the Niagara Escarpment!). They certainly don't know about their geology problems!

CBC to use Bittorrent for prime show

This is a fantastic idea, and I'm sure they'll get a better show for it. It will also put pressure on Rogers who considers Bittorrent to be evil, and does their best to filter it out. All the more excuse for everybody to dump Rogers!

Nuclear planners forget the geology

And I thought Tyler Hamilton read my blog! But here it is, another story on how great Nanticoke would be for a nuclear plant. Bruce, however, is used to having nuclear plants on the hanging wall of a major fault. But this one is right beside the Cleveland seismic activity.

It's always interesting to see what happens when you pick turkeys for nuclear sites. Will the geology always be left off the agenda? Can they just bulldoze it through, and then sink into the rotten rock? This is fun.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wind turbines and ice storms

This article suddenly got me thinking of one the great 'Fab Four' of Ontario emergencies: ice storm. Now think of an ice storm with wind turbines! They'd be flinging off the ice like giant catapults! Fantastic! For the price of one disaster, you get two!

Giant sea turbine


These tidal turbines are getting huge!

I love the statement "It's almost completely underwater." It would make a great Nintendo game obstacle to get by in your little Mario rowboat! Can you imagine the tip of thing slicing out of the water!

Little things for earthquakes

I'm just back from my presentation, when I realized that we are spending many millions for structural improvements (via the building codes), and cannot spend anything to improve general public safety.

So, you can work in a building that has acknowledged the reality of earthquakes, and yet be clueless. The Italian restaurant in the building will stand, but those huge giant wine bottles on the shelves over your head will kill you.

Why is that? I think it's because, in the political world, you can't acknowledge earthquakes, without having to do something dramatic. There is no 'dipping your toe' into the cold waters. All I want, is to place 'earthquake', in the hit parade of Ontario disasters: fire, flood, and ice-storm.

Could we ever be rational with earthquakes? I think it's rational to spend 1% per year, on lives saved, assuming 1 million dollars per life. This gives us room for little things. For example, an educational campaign. Or getting those highway signs ready for an earthquake. It would be great to have an automatic way to flash "Earthquake, Slow Down!" on every sign. That would save dozens of lives.

The Ottawa Valley needs earthquake drills. People need to take down heavy things over the beds of their kids. People near Chalk River need to know that an earthquake will sploosh radioactivity all over the place.

Ah, the dreams of old men....

UK to sell off its nuclear turkey

Lots of excitement on the sale of the British equivalent to AECL. They had brought in a big American boss, but he couldn't do much. Now the British may have to suffer the humiliation of it being sold to the French!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Presentation slides

These are the slides for my presentation. They are very basic, and only intended to remind me what to talk about.


video

Canada science advisory council

I found the website of these guys, if you want to read up on all the great things they've done, and the meetings they are having.

And what have they done? Absolutely nothing! What do they plan to do? Same thing. I would love to join these guys, they share my attitude towards work.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bird whackers to be replaced by fish blenders

Tidal power can also do as much for the environment as wind thingies. This is an interesting article on how disastrous previous efforts have been, and how they are going to do so much better, this time around.

Actually, these things aren't going to replace wind turbines, but will work together 'in harmony'.

Bruce still thinks they can build a nuclear plant at Bruce

Fine, let them think that. I'm not going to burst their bubble gum, because you get the yucky stuff all over yourself. They think their site is especially good because there will be a waste repository right under it. Can you beat that?

I'm looking forward to watching this whole thing (at least on a good day!). I really don't know what will happen when it all blows up. Perhaps an emergency will be declared, and they will allow costs multiply by many times. Who knows?

Fuji S9000 fixed

A great letdown in the blind belief of Japanese quality. Fuji had a major design flaw in the S9000 camera, which I hope is fixed now. My camera was either out of warranty, or I didn't want to bother (I always lose the papers!).

Seems a very tiny shaft is made out of cheap plastic, or the torque is too high for the material, so it shears off. This makes the 'command wheel' useless. I basically followed the instructions here.

As I got into, I was beginning to think that this was an elaborate internet joke. The shaft was so tiny, and the attachment nearly impossible. I got around my problems by filling the command wheel with hot glue, and potting the end of the shredded toothpick. Then I spent the next 20 minutes using a Dremel to slowly shape the hex shaft for the switch wheel. It works now, and I hope it holds!

Otherwise, it's a great camera and I have my water polo pictures over here.

Crazy Toronto Star thinks we have a nuclear choice

Nice editorial. These things are always written by highly educated English Majors.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Linux and movies - 4

You don't have to ditch your xp machine, but you have to spend money for new stuff. First, you need a wired network. I use 100 Meg Cat5 wire, and switches, but all the new stuff is coming out at Gigabyte speeds, which would be useful for transferring files. Because of streaming, you don't need that speed for now.

You need a decent computer. I buy from parts, so I can avoid the 'Windows tax'. Ask a kid to do it! I would go for a standard motherboard, with a dual AMD-64 chip, and at least 2 Gigs of memory. I'd pack in a very large disk.

Loading Linux is easy. There is lots of help on the internet. I use vanilla Debian 64 bit. The 64 bit is magnificent if you are doing several big things at once, like downloading, converting and streaming.

On the Linux server, you need to load MediaTomb, which is the data streamer. Buy a PS3 as your tv top player. It's heavily subsidized by Sony, and is great even if you never play a game! It has built-in divx, up-scaling, and blu-ray.

For file fetching I use gtk-gnutella most of the time. You also have to ditch cable internet, since they bitch about this sort of use. Even the phone line thing has its ups and downs. Since I also create content, you really need full time access to bandwidth you pay for.

That's it! I'd be happy to answer any questions about this interesting, and totally legal hobby.

Ontario - 2, Alberta - 4 Nuclear Reactors

While Ontario is limiting itself to 2 reactors (ha, ha), Alberta is going to 4. They also say they are dumping AECL as a single vendor, and going for the crowd. Maybe they can buy reservations for reactor vessels on the open market, since these things are booked up for 20 years.

I'm still interested in how they are going to do the site studies. Bruce is famous for leaving out certain things.

Ontario gov't going for twin reactors

That pretty well settles it. Ontario is going for twin AECL reactors. I don't even know why we have those other guys hanging around.

Personally, I didn't think they were happy with just a twin. I thought they were going for 4! With just a twin, Darlington probably has enough room. The article says that with an ACR twin we can get rid of loser Pickering, but I'm not so sure.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Absolute power corrupts absolutely

No great comments on this article, since it is political, but you can see what is happening in the nuclear area.

We now know from the 'spitzing' that when people appoint themselves, judge, jury and executioner, strange things happen.

Bruce Nuclear makes its move

Yahoo, cowboys! Bruce is taking the wagon trail to Alberta! They finalized their various purchase, and are heading out to the beautiful Peace River. I wonder if the site rock is as bad as Bruce. Perhaps they have an affinity for it?

There are certainly no earthquakes there because nobody's been around to feel them. All in all, a match made in heaven!

Ontario's Nuclear Choice - AECL ACR1000

I feel as though there's this huge whirlpool, slowly sucking us all to use the ACR1000 as the next nuclear plant. Although we'd all be happier using the AP1000, we'll never get one.

The ACR1000 continues the Candu tradition of being a 'plumber's nightmare'. You can read all about it at this site. It has the same layout as an AP1000, except they allow two reactors to be siamese twins.

The only sop to modernity is the use of light water in the pressure tubes. Since Candu's are 'neutron starved', this can only be done by jumping up the fuel with some extra juice. They use a fuel somewhere around 2% of the hot stuff. The fuel can be jacked up with the ground-up remains of old Soviet nuclear bombs.

I believe they just use a hyped-up Darlington design. If they increase the coolant flow, I'll feel sorry for them. They never really figured out the physics of why the Darlington fuel channels have such a horrible vibration instability. I know, but I'm telling anyone. :) This new one has more fuel channels jammed in, and could be a real musical instrument!

So, let's hear it for the ACR1000, our only choice!

Bottleneck in nuclear plants

As I've outlined in my nuclear series, the rationale approach would be to go with 4 AP1000 reactors, like in China. The problem is that there is only one place in the world that can forge the main reactor vessel.

This forge is in Japan, and they make the vessel like a Samurai sword. They are booked up until the next century (or at least my lifetime). Ontario's diddling doesn't help us here.

This most likely forces us to use the AECL reactor, since nobody else is making them, and the calandria is multi-part forge. Nevertheless, we shall keep on partying with all the vendors until December!

Linux and movies at home - 3

So, if the movie companies saw the light of reason, they would use an advance compression technique such as Divx5. But these things are always changing, and there are different formats. I use Avidemux to decipher and convert formats. This is also where having a 64 bit dual processor comes in handy, because it takes some time to convert. Luckily, a lot of promo-movies are now available as Divx5, so I don't need conversion.

As I've said, I'm only talking public domain movies here, until the movie companies wake up. In the future I see compression techniques matching with the end device. For example, the PS3 has these incredible side-processors, like a super-computer, that make for great 'upscaling'. That's taking a dvd movie and making it look like a blu-ray. Right now, for me, a good quality, compressed movie looks like blu-ray at 480p, which is the best that my big screen can do.

You'll want to store all these bizarre movies, and the best way to do it, is with a media-server. I use Mediatomb, and it's fantastic. It can store movies, photos, and audio. It streams them over your network wires, so the playing device doesn't have to store anything. (Wireless is hopeless here!).

We need a word on how the movie companies will eventually get these movies to the home, which is a real bottleneck. They could use dedicated servers. I would recommend imprinting each movie with the customer's name, since they can sell children's books this way. It makes for a very expensive system.

On the other hand, they could use existing resources. I use gtk-gnutella, that has a direct Bitzi connection to flag dangerous files. As well, I also use Bittorrent. Both these services are nearly identical, in that they split up the movie into a zillion pieces, and all the people who are downloading, are uploading little pieces as well. It becomes efficient when there are lots of people involved. I can sometimes get my full 700 Kbytes/s with a dozen feeds. Of course, there aren't that many people looking for the totally legal stuff, like me!

Next: Getting the equipment.

Big earthquake movie coming

Don't you just love earthquake movies, the ground opening up and swallowing people, entire buildings collapsing to dust. Such great Hollywood work!

Now, there's a big one on San Francisco 1906. If you want to enjoy this one, you shouldn't read too much on this blog. I might watch it, and it could be as funny as The Core!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ontario's Nuclear Choice - Areva EPR


I'm a bit behind on this. I can't find a speck of difference between the Areva and Westinghouse design. I think it takes a larger footprint, but it is supposedly good up to 1600 MW. They are having a bitch of a time with it in Finland, but I don't know if it is the fundamental design.

Ontario's Nuclear Choice - GE Boiling Water Reactor

The BWR, or to spiff it up, the ABWR (for 'advanced') appears to be the poor sister of the choices, perhaps just included as the life of the party. The bwr ditches the use of steam generators, and puts everything into a fantastically complex core. The Japanese used to like them, until the last big earthquake, and now they appear to be dumping them. The problem is that the core is such a big, complex mess, it is impossible to assess for earthquake ruggedness, and impossible to assure no damage, after a big quake.

The control rods are shoved up from underneath, which seems rather silly, and you can notice the vast array of steam dryers on top. The steam goes directly to the turbines, which makes for some radioactivity in the turbine hall. As such, the building is complex.


This is a generally terrible design, that would not be good for airliner strike. The footprint appears to be the same as for the AP1000, so there is still the problem of fitting it on the Darlington site.

Of course, they are now offering the 'super advanced' bwr, but I can't find anything on that. I would assess this as a loser design that I would not want to see in Ontario, but again, I'm not part of the Spritzer parties.

Linux and movies at home - 2

I have suffered heavily with all the different compression formats out there. For the video, they call this the 'video codec', and the audio is completely different, most likely mp3. Video compression works by separating the fast moving bits from the slow moving background, through fancy transform techniques. The eye is attracted to faces and such, and that requires the most detail.

One of the first video codecs was mpeg-2, which is used by satellite channels, and standard dvd's. I'm not too sure how that works, but I believe it only looks at one frame at a time. This makes it possible to get a full movie down to 4-6 Gb.

Now, old mpeg-2 looks rather primitive, but the studios must produce a physical medium, much like the record companies are forced to stick to cd's, which is very old technology. There are now newer video codecs which look at multiple frames, and have greater compression. The most common is mpeg-4, which can be called DIVX or XVID. A further wrinkle is that older movies are DIVX-3, and the PS3 only takes DIVX-4! And try telling the difference!

Nothing much has changed on the audio end. MP3 works by dumping parts of the sound that the human ear can't pick up. We all know how tightly that compresses, and the quality is determined by the bit rate.

Next: converting formats

Indonesia follows Ontario on nuclear hopes

Wow! Indonesia is going to put in 4 reactors. I'll bet they'll have a long short list, talk about it forever, and wait for Schreiber-booty to pour in.

Although *some* Ontario sites are as bad, they'll have a real problem putting up a plant on that unstable land. All the proposed plants for Ontario have a standardized seismic resistance to 30% g, much like a Japanese plant. For Indonesia, they can't gloss over the issue like the Chinese, they'll have to go for 60% g, and I don't know where they'll find such a plant. Perhaps the Russians? I'm sure their certifications are good....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Linux and movies at home - 1

As you can look up on the site search, I'm a big fan of Linux. One of the reasons is it's ability to handle multi-media. I do the editing of my videos on Linux, and process the results of my seismic analysis.

If ever the movie houses got a clue, they would distribute movies like zml.com. Right now, that must be Mafyosi operation, but wouldn't it be nice? Of course, if you are going to swim with the sharks, you need some better security than woosie XP. Even the virus checkers won't help here, because you are dipping right into the brand new stuff.

Even if zml.com were legit, there is the question of how to deliver movies at a decent download rate. PirateBay has torrents, but wouldn't have a means to charge for the service, and people seeding the files might not do so, for a commercial service. The Bay just makes money showing Spritzer-ladies. (sp. intentional!).

Thus, I have led my investigation into how to download movies, for the future, when they are legit. Actually the reason they can't do it now is that Walmart would yank off all the first one's DVD's! Without wanting to get anybody pissed off, I do my investigations with totally legal fare, such as hour-long infomercials!

When loading a movie length travel promotion, the first thing that has to be considered is the compression technique. This has caused me endless problems with my 'How to Make Expresso' collection, since there are so many formats, and some devices (such as the PS3) don't play them.

Usually a full-length movie can be compressed decently into 700 Mb, but a 'dvd quality' travelogue can be split into 2 files of 700 Mb each. This is the magic number to fit on a standard CD for the flea markets. I can't see this general limit being valid for future legit movies, and in fact it's being exceeded in a lot of cases. A current dvd has 4 to 6 Gb of data!

(more to come, if my ad revenues make me happy and nobody sues me! :)

Next: A Zillion Formats!

Ontario's Nuclear Choice - AP1000 Darlington Layout

This is the last bit on the AP1000. Next, it's off to GE and the boiling water reactor.

The AP1000 is designed as a self-contained single unit reactor. This has certain advantages in management, where it is known that managing a 4 unit plant is a nightmare. The AP1000 doesn't really need shared facilities, unlike the old CANDU with its monstrous vacuum building.

The Chinese layout is shown in this picture.


You can see how they hug the water source, and the electrical facilities go out the back. It is unclear how they will handle water intake and discharge, but I suspect they are simple pipes thrown in the water. We would most likely have a shared tunnel intake and outflow, like Darlington A. The forebay would be behind the plants.

I have calculated the general footprint of one reactor to be about 100 m and 300 m long. You need to place them about a width apart. As such, I have come out with this layout for Darlington.


As you can see, it's ugly and mashes up a lot of existing buildings. As well, there is a mountain of dirt under this site, and it ends up very close to the quarry blasting. That is why I call it a 'postage stamp'.

Nuclear plant costs triple

Yes, and they have a lot more to go up. Especially if the Ontario government continues to make arbitrary political decisions that double the cost each time.

The rational approach, like the Chinese, had a reasonable base cost. Just slap on some AP1000's (or whatever!) on a site with plenty of room, such as Wesleyville (a few years ago!). Of course, that is not possible, so every step towards political correctness slaps on another billion. And that's before OPG Management has a go at it!

It's a bit sad, which keeps me in the doldrums.

Ontario's Nuclear Choice - AP1000 Geology and Seismic

The 7000 pages of the NRC submission make for an interesting read. Of interest here are the geology and seismic requirements, which closely follow the IAEA guidelines. I don't think the Bruce Caves could pass these specifications.

All of these new plants are designed for a generic 30% g, standard US spectrum. When I was with the CSA nuclear seismic standards, I foresaw these 7000 pages, and wanted the new CSA code dedicated to handling this stuff. Alas, no such luck!

Our problem in Canada is that we never believed in the US standard spectrum, and have no way of formally certifying that a given site is adequate for the design. In the old days, we would determine the seismic parameters, and make a new custom design for those numbers.

The US NRC has declared that 30% g is adequate for most sites in the East, whatever that means. The documentation outlines their method of seismic analysis. They start with the site plan for the nuclear island, since nobody cars about the turbines!
From this, they make a finite element model, which is really just a Lego model of bricks.

Now, this looks very fancy, but then they reduce the whole thing into a single lumpy stick for the actual seismic analysis.

Our seismic site evaluations are different from the US, so now we have to go into this, and compare. As well, they specify a whole suite of geology, and geophysics that we have to do, and we haven't started on that!

Next up will be the Chinese multi-plant layout and how that would fit on the Darlington postage stamp. I just read how the Minister has dismissed Wesleyville, which is one of those decisions with a billion dollar price tag.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Seismic analysis - soft layer on stiff

I still have all the humour sucked out of me, but here is the latest run, with a soft layer on top of a stiffer layer. There is still some wave running up the outer edges, but I hope to solve this with foam around the outside.


video

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Off again.

I've hit a low cycle again. Can't see that blogging is doing much for me. I'm still doing my guest talk, and might work for the wife in boring computing stuff.

Tour of Ontario Nuclear Options - 1

Ontario has settled down to a very long "short list" of nuclear plant designs. In this series I shall attempt to wade through the huge amount of licensing papers to see how these things will fit on the sites in Ontario.

The first is the Westinghouse AP1000 design. Westinghouse is the 'grand dame' of nuclear plants in the US. The core is something lifted out of a nuclear submarine (in spirit only). It uses 'power grade' enriched uranium, which is about 4% of the good stuff, U235. In contrast, our plants have used 'natural' uranium at about 1% hot stuff. AECL is now using the euphemistically called 'slightly enriched' uranium, at about 2%.

WH has been bought out totally by Toshiba, so there is some good Japanese heavy metal behind it. We can't really hold the total political failure in Japan against them. The advantage of the AP design is that it uses pressurized 'light' water, which makes it very compact. In fact, everything else dwarfs the tiny reactor.

In China, they are putting 4 units at one site, which is probably what they want for the Darlington postage stamp, or the Bruce Caves. I'm still looking through the NRC documentation for the site layout, or some idea of the Chinese layout, since I don't believe this design can share facilities.

I still don't know if I'm going to continue this series, but if I do, I'll look next at their seismic requirements, and superimpose the plant on the Darlington site.

Canadian Water Polo Earthquake

Yeah Canada! They out-toughed Romania, to get into the Olympics. The girls washed out, but we have the men! I wish I could sneek a decent video of the game, since these games make hockey look wussy.

Ontario plagiarizes UK nuclear short list

I didn't realize that the Ontario "short list" is exactly the same as the UK "long list". They are making the effort to cut it down to a short list of 3 companies. Ontario, on the other hand, will maintain this list, right to the bitter end in December. There will be a lot more carbon wasted in schmoozing the politicians, and generating huge paper piles. I wonder how many tons of ethanol are going into this effort!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Neat use of radioactivity

In the "radioactivity isn't all evil" department. This article shows how radioactive gold particles can glue themselves into cancer cells. This is good for us old guys!

Workplace bullying

Geez, there was a lot of that at my unnamed old company! But whatcha goin' to do? I just feel sorry for any new people parachuted into that situation.

Meteorite hits Parry Sound

And nobody noticed. Ha ha. Seriously, that's an amazing event, but I think nobody will find pieces through all this snow! Maybe in the spring.

Volcano tour

I like this article. You've got to be nuts to do this, but it's cute.

MDS fights back

We've got to give these guys equal time. The most interesting thing is what they leave out, like a teenager. It's like Voldie saying "No, we did not offer him a million dollar policy". End of comment. Nothing about what he did offer.

Other nuclear companies may low-ball to kill AECL

Now, wouldn't that be interesting! This article raises the possibility of them kicking AECL while they're down! At least it would be a great deal for Ontario.

The article makes a mistake that we only want 1000 MW nuclear. That's nothing! We're putting in twins at Darlington, or maybe 4.

I think I'll investigate and start a series on each of the technologies, and how they work for Ontario, especially fitting in to the postage-stamp Darlington site. Only if I get some show of support, since this could be boring.

War against the corporate IT idiots

The worst thing a company can do is isolate a central IT department, or worse, outsource it. Then you know the company is doomed! It's just that these guys now have no measure of success. They can talk about 'security' until they're blue in the face, but still they let the viruses through. What really happens, is that high productivity people are frustrated.

I was always in that situation. The best thing that happened were Java applications that I could run without those bozos! The Google web applications were also great.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Ontario announces short list for nuclear

Yeah, the big announcement! Ontario announces the process, which will be monitored by a 'fairness guru'.

There are four, rather than three. This makes for less people to offend. We have Areva, AECL, GE, and Westinghouse.

The announcement seems to indicate that there will be one plant design for Ontario, so Bruce and OPG will have to pick the same one! Normally, they would go for anything, but what the other guy has!

Darwin Award Nomination

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. — High winds are blamed for the death of a man who died when a mattress he was sitting on was blown off the back of a pickup truck.

Police said D S, 42, a public works employee, was helping move the mattress Monday.

The wind flipped the mattress and Smith fell and hit his head on the road. He died at Maury Regional Hospital.

Mount Pleasant Police Chief Tom Wilson said the death would be classified as weather-related.

Ballmer to expel his last breath, chasing Google

I'm a big Linux fan, but I love following the antics of the Big Boys. Now, Ballmer has predicted his own death. :)

It also appears that their big attempt to catch Google may be running into trouble because their stock price is going south. Go for it Ballmer! You know we're all rooting for you! (ha!)

Tales of Darlington - 3

(use the site search for previous articles)

The diffuser tunnel at Darlington was bitchy. Normally, the warm water discharge is just handled by a channel out into the lake. They had done a lot of hydraulic modeling on this outflow, and for the most part it was quite benign to the lake. That's because the warm water would stay on top and most of the heat energy would go to the atmosphere. Lots of fishies like the warm water, and it's usually the best fishing in the lake! The water is usually cleaner coming out than going in, because of all the zebra mussels in the pipes!

But once in a while, physics comes into play. Water has the maximum density at about 4 deg. C, and then fluffs up for freezing. That's why the whole lake seasonly 'turns over', when the temperature changes. If the water is near freezing, and the warm water comes in, it can be denser, and plunges along the bottom. This could kill fishies in their nests.

For this reason, we had to diffuse the warm water. The tunnel was about twice as long as the intake. It had a reducing diameter, and had diffuser pipes shooting out the top. As such, it was more difficult to excavate.

First, the pipes had to be drilled in, grouted, and closed with a cap. When the tunnel was excavated, these pipes were opened from underneath, so that only the steel cap was between you and certain death! The tunnel was lined with concrete and filled with water. Then the caps were taken off the top of the pipes.

Voldie finds a new science advisor

Now, they are saying that the head of this new toadie* Science Council is actually the replacement science advisor. They're supposed to meet soon, so we actually see what they are going to do.

* I am sure there are at least *some* people on this council that are not Voldie Toadies.

* Use my site search to clarify code names.

Nuclear plant costs rising

As Ontario fiddles, nuclear pricing burns. That would be expected when everybody and their dog wants to build a nuclear plant. The cost is now 5 billion per 1000 MW, and Ontario wants to put in twins. But my general rule is that it will cost twice as much and take twice as long. It's not pretty, but it's reality.

Tiny bit of progress in nuclear

They're still thinking about a panel, and new EA guidelines. Ho, hum.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Slow earthquake rumbles NW US and Vancouver

For some time now, there has been a slow, deep delamination that propagates from the south to the north, out in the Vancouver area. Nobody feels it, but the seismometers record a lot of rumbling. Now, there are more real-time GPS instruments to catch 'the wave'. As usual, there is the constant wondering if this means anything, but nevertheless, it is fascinating natural phenomenon.

Slinky seismology video blog

I thought I'd go more into the video blogs. I'm preparing for my talk on earthquakes, and as you know, I do all my thinking out loud. Everybody should have a blog, it clears the mind!


video

MDS has a bad year

Couldn't happen to a nicer company! The AECL-Voldie thing has their income down a bit, but they hope to claw it all back, now that they have an open ticket to run the old reactor into the ground.

I suppose that if they had done the decent thing, and merely invoked their published backup plans, they wouldn't make as much money in the future. It was no sweat off their nose to cause a major crisis. And it was good they had that nuclear medicine doctor lined up to really cause a 'people will die' panic.

Speaking of doctor-induce panic, this article has the new, totally gross, ads by the doctors' cartel. I'm sure their 'solution' is to pay all doctors more money!

Tales of Darlington - 2

I can't express the tremendous scale of the place! I was just a young 'new guy', and just went around taking it all in. The 'old guys' were grizzled veterans of dam building, this was nothing to them, after the St. Lawrence Seaway.

First thing we did was to blast huge holes in the rock, about 5 m deep, to be the foundations for the reactors. The turbine hall was up on the till. These holes proved interesting, in that you could see classical 'rock squeeze', and some of the upper beds were actually shifted by the blasting. Again, this was touted by some, as 'earthquake signs'.

Beneath the disturbed layer, the rock was absolutely impermeable, as far as it can be in Nature. The holes were below lake level, and there was no seepage. Because these foundation benches were so deep, some bright guy had the idea to use rock anchors, to prevent the reactors from floating away. That was the beginning of many gross wastes of money for the plant!

We also had to excavate a deep forebay for the cooling water. This can now be seen as a giant canal in front of the plant. I absolutely loved the big intake tunnel that was being blasted at the time. I got to visit once or twice.

Inside the tunnel, the limestone beds were flat, and the whole tunnel was dusty-dry, even though it was beneath the lake! The had to pipe in water to wet down the dust! I always made it a point to keep away when things got dangerous, which I always thought was the case, when they came to the end. The intake tunnel had a big deep sump blasted out at the end, and then they blasted upward as far as they dared. Then they loaded up the remaining portion with explosives and went away. The tunnel was filled with water, and the then the plug was blasted. The excess rock fell into the sump, and the tunnel was open.

The big problem with these intake tunnels is the formation of a giant vortex that sucks up fish and small boats. At Bruce, they put in a steel structure which broke up the vortex. At Darlington, they designed a huge concrete intake structure, which allowed a slow vertical intake flow, that would hopefully suck in less fish. In the past few years, it has proven to be a marvelous breeding ground for zebra mussels!

Next up: the diffuser outflow!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Not just nuclear plants

They aren't the only things that go sky-high. Most major geotechnical projects have the same DNA. Here's one from Vancouver. They find some loose rock, and the contractors are screaming "Extra Money!". Much like Boston's Big Dig, a lot of this is related to being cheap on the drilling, or not appreciating what the results are telling you.

Added a site search

I have realized that this site is becoming ridiculously large. I gave up with having the sleazy ads directly on the site, but now I've added a search bar at the bottom, where I get a cut of their sleazy ads. You can also limit the search just to my site!

ps. I just added the ads back. Now you can choose which ones. I've selected a variety that look good, with no malware. I still can't get ads of things I actually use, but who would want old-man stuff anyway!

Tales of Darlington - 1

I thought I'd go into a little series about excavations at Darlington, which was our site of exceptional rock. Unlike the hell at Bruce, which 'allegedly' is on the hanging wall of the biggest fault zone in ENA: the Grenville Front. Of course, I don't have any proof of that, not enough to put in front of a legal panel, but then again, nobody has the proof to go against the main presentation. That's the problem when 'burden of proof' is placed on the outsiders. But I digress. :)

On a happier note, we look at the superb rock of Darlington (and Wesleyville). Once we had all the till stripped off, we could stand on the bedrock and look around. The diamond cores had revealed a limestone of remarkable tightness and perfectly level beds. In fact, the major rock layers (marker beds) hardly varied from a slightly tilted billiard table.

The rock on top was neat. It was the Whitby shale, which was a very oily shale, with unbelievable fossils. In fact, I think it's to our eternal shame that we didn't have fossil-people there for the excavation. Construction workers found museum pieces of large trilobytes, and one idiot even spray-painted his with gold paint. I, myself, only picked up some small partials. Perhaps, with the new plant, they'll be nicer.

We had to blast in big holes and trenches into the rock, for the reactor foundations, and the water intakes. Two tunnels had to be blasted out under the lake, one for the intake, and one for the outflow diffuser. The funny story is that we were going ahead for just the intake, when legend has it that they discovered one pregnant whitefish, perhaps the last in Lake Ontario. (There are billions of them up in the North Channel!). Suddenly, at the last minute we had to design the outflow tunnel, after the intake blasting had been started.

The rock was interesting to walk over, since I don't recall that the boreholes had told us about a 1 metre broken zone at the top. This comprised mostly of solid plates of rock, underlain by about 5 cm of injected sand. It was clearly glaciation-induced, much like the disturbed rock of the Rouge Valley, although there was one crazy guy who said it was an earthquake fault!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The locals learn about OPG nuclear plans

Thank God for the internet! Without it, I would never find out what's happening with nuclear waste or new nuclear. You see, all these companies want to have their public meetings at the local Legion Hall, with tea and crumpets. They seem to have had one recently.

All these panels are being set up. Soon, there will be a big demand for panelizers.

Daughter Part 2

Here's the race. I screwed up the compression on the other. The short podium video was 11 Mb, and this one is 12Mb. This was done by making the size (resolution) much smaller.


video

Daughter wins gold at OFSAA

What can I say? I'm such a proud daddy! Sr Women 50 m free.


video

Memoirs of Drilling - 3

Memoirs of Drilling - 1
Memoirs of Drilling - 2

In addition to the N-value, the split spoon brought up a soil sample. This was important to tell if it was silt, sand or clay, or any combination. In this type of till, the real nasties are sand lenses. It didn't really matter at Darlington, since we were so traumatised by the sand lenses of Pickering, that we decided to take off all the dirt.

That was 100 feet of dense till. The operation was magnificent, with these huge scrapers, which then dumped the dirt on Darlington Hill, which can be seen from the highway. But I digress. The soil augers told us where the bedrock was, simply because you couldn't drill any more.

The soil augers were great for the dirt work, but since it was getting stripped off, we needed to find out about the bedrock. That was the time to bring out the diamond drills! We either slipped a casing on the soil hole, or sunk a new casing to bedrock. This was required to keep the hole clear for rock drilling.

Although I loved the dirt, the rock was where the action was! Here's a Wiki thing that I started. The process seems a bit tricky, but the drilling part is merely a pipe with a tip embedded with industrial diamonds. As the drill stem turns, water is injected in the middle. The diamonds chew up the rock to a powder, which is then washed away. Since the pipe and drill bit are hollow, a core starts to form up the middle.

All the remaining complexity is then devoted to keeping the core as well-preserved as possible. If you are in solid rock, and just looking for minerals, you can just lower in a core-breaker-grabber, and yank out the core of solid rock. For geotechnical drilling, you can have a very fancy triple-tube arrangement which produces undisturbed core, with all it's gaps and fractures.

We drilled the bejeezus out of Darlington, because we were doing all sorts of work in the rock, including tunnels. We even put in a couple of exciting 'deep holes' to look at the granite beneath the limestone. Those were fascinating, and a possible subject for another story.

Britain tries to top us in nuclear botching

Wow, I couldn't get past a few paragraphs, because it was sooo horrible. That's what happens when you go for 'untried engineering'. I, myself, love new engineering, but I'm afraid it's a bit much for techno-bureaucracies.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Prep thinking begins in Alberta

Hey, they're really starting to think of the implications of new nuclear in Alberta. This is a very good article of what is required.

Pay attention to the fact that Peace River is already sprucing up to receive the new people. After this winter in Toronto I might think about retiring there (not!). Anyway, I can't think it's any worse than Bruce.

I was surprised to learn that Bruce submitted their environmental assessment for the new build. I would seriously like to read it for a laugh, if anybody can cough up a copy. You might have to enter a dark building, after being strip-searched, but take one for the gipper! Maybe it's on Wikileaks!

Sitting gov't sues muck rakers

Okay, now that we are living in Singapore, I am *not* going to say anything more about Harper and GoD (Government of the Day). I just know he's after me next!

Memoirs of Drilling - 2

Memoirs of Drilling - 1

Now that everybody has used the video to get a great night's sleep, I'd like to focus on some highlights. When I first came to the big company, we had a Geotechnical Engineering Department. This was a very busy place, since we were actively building at the time. Our department was always in conflict with the Civil Eng. Dept., because they would use the drilling results to design foundations. We, of course, thought it was our right to comment on their designs!

At about that time, Darlington was just a big field, and Geotech was the first to go in. In those days (and now!), they just picked the site, and we had to put on a nuclear plant, by jimminey!

The first thing was to lay in a site grid by the surveyors. Over the course of constructing the plant, there would be several grids, which made things hell, if you ever wanted to plot all boreholes. Now, everything is GPS. It is extremely important to locate every hole with accuracy.

At Darlington, we would go in first with soil drilling. This was the standard hollow-stem auger, probably on a track-mounted drill, because of the mucky conditions. The auger would be drilled down every few feet, and then a sample taken. That would comprise of removing the centre plug, and attaching the split spoon. I always loved the soil drilling, since the smell of the deep soil was magnificent! A good geotechnical engineer could tell the type of soil, by listening to the effort of the drill, and mushing the soil in his hands. You would grind the soil between you fingernails to check the silt content.

Unfortunately, you didn't want to stand there for hundreds of boreholes, so you had to rely on the drill logs. The sampling would consist of a split spoon, which was a split cylinder held together by rings. This would be attached to the central rod and lowered into the hole. The most important thing (IMHO), would be whapping the sampler into the soil below the auger. This was done in a very controlled manner, using a standard steel weight, dropped a standard distance. The number of whaps to driver the sampler in, was the N-Value. Although a crude measure, it had the advantage of being done a million times all over the world, and for all sorts of projects. For example, the odds of soil liquefaction during an earthquake can be correlated with N-value.

Montreal to charge for driving on its crummy roads

I love any story that has something to do with Montreal concrete! They want to start congestion charges, and put the money into fixing the roads (ha, ha!). I think congestion charges are a great advance to greenery, even more than nasty windmills! This solves the big problem that if you improve or widen the roads, people just live farther out, and drive more.

Thus, commuting is only limited by congestion and how much people can stand, which is an awful lot!

Although I like the idea in principle, I am sure that Montreal will botch it up, and send all the money to black holes.

Ontario nuclear short list comes out this week

The wheels grind on. A short list is a good thing. I suppose they'll come up with a politically correct list: one Canadian, one French, and one American. Then the rest of the year will be devoted to horse trading; how many jobs, total cost, guarantees, etc.

Here's where the companies underbid the actual cost, knowing full well they can never pull it off. Once they get the contract, then it's "Oh, we never knew that! You never told us that! blah, blah" Still, it's progress.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Japan soon to be populated just by robots

I get the Economist every week. And nothing is more fascinating than the stories from Japan. This week, it lists how Japan is being destroyed by its politicians. The population is aging, and they refuse to take in immigrants. Now, this article explains how wacko they are getting with humanoid robots.

I love this stuff! I don't know if anyone else is interested, but it is such an interesting mix of earthquakes, and rotten social policy. I have great faith that things will come to a head, and they will change for the better, since this is the way of all human society.

Animals spreading nuclear waste

I knew it wasn't humans! It's those nasty wild animals, they're spreading nuclear waste all over the place! We should start sanctions against them! We won't shoot them anymore, until they stop this horrible thing!

First time ever I get on one of those Media comments

Yeah! I had to pick one of the most obscure articles, and not mention anything that violates their commercial interest, but I did it. So mild, so insipid! Anyway, these guys have to be careful, or the next Conrad-wannabe will sue them!

On the actual topic, I despair of anything happening on the nuclear front. First, they have to hire somebody competent to handle billions of dollars, and not being called a 'fat cat' by the NDP. Then, they actually have to tell AECL to get lost, and get accused of 'destroying thousands of jobs'. Then they have to say 'Oh, we're sorry, we're not actually building at Darlington, but next door at Wesleyville.'. Then, they have to tell the Suzukiists 'Sorry, but we're killing a few fish, instead of birds'. And it goes on and on.... I don't think they have the heart for it.

Memoirs of Drilling - 1

My next series gets me into the wonderful world of geotechnical drilling. Ah, the memories of noise, dust, smoke, gas, mud! Those wonderful drillers, who always looked like they just got out of prison! We would drill anywhere, and although I didn't go on a lot of remote drilling, I heard a lot of stories.

Now, if you want all the gory details of drilling, there is a wonderful 35 minute video available. (downloading is a bit of a bitch!) It put me to sleep, but it covers all the aspects of geotechnical drilling. I shall only cover the interesting bits, or whatever shakes out of my associative memory.

I shall let you chew on the video, while I reach down into my Harry Potter pensieve and extract some memories.

OPG earns lots of money

Yeah, my pension is secure! Keep on raking in that money, OPG!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Nasty goings-on at AECL

Too bad Harper-companies can't be cited for fraud. Here's a nice summary article of the various money-nasties that went on with the nuclear fiasco. In the end, it was all fraud for money. Wait! I delete that last statement! Replace with: It had all the *appearance* of deliberate fraud, but they could always throw the 'incompetence' defence!