Saturday, January 31, 2009

Seismic Alert System Craps Out


This is exactly what I think of all seismic alert systems. They are designed with a linear frame of mind, but earthquakes are exponential (Power Law). That's why these systems are always 'over-powered' when a real earthquake comes along.

Rather than have everything go to a central site, you would have to design a distributed 'instantly scalable' system. I've never seen such a system, but I have some ideas. I think most Internet people would have some ideas, as well.

New Reactor Produces Hotter Waste


If the French can get over their thing for cheesy concrete, these new EPR reactors produce denser, hotter, nuclear waste. Thus, their claim of 'producing 30% less waste', rings a little hollow.

That probably means it needs 20 years in the pools, rather than 10. After that, it goes into the rusty barrels by the river!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Channel Tunnel Almost Working Again


I love tunnels, but you've got to wonder whether a long transport tunnel is worth it. Really, every one of these cars and trucks are a potential bomb, even without the terrorists! The terrorists could easily close this tunnel, but they use it too much, shuttling between London and Paris! :)

Death of a Thousand Cuts


Yuk Yuk Mountain gets another cut. They can't just shoot this horse. No, that would somehow be illegal, since there are all those nuclear waste contracts, and new plants to be built.

Cheesy-Concrete Nuclear Plant Starts Lawsuits


It has started. The billions-dollar lawsuit for that Finnish nuclear plant. I can't wait for our own 'billions and billions' lawsuit for the Niagara Tunnel!

Chalk River Boosted Juice


I never knew we had rusty barrels of the really good stuff up here in Canada. I keep forgetting that the NRU is the father of the Indian-Pakistan nuclear bombs.

This article does the usual blah blah on how we should find a safer source for these isotopes. Lots of hand wringing. Meanwhile, it looks like they are finally shutting down the beast, to hammer in a few more nails, and plug up the leaks!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Famous Earthquakes: Coalinga 1983

This was the year I got married, and the day before, I experienced the Adirondacks earthquake. That earthquake was a great waker-upper, but we didn't learn much from it. Now, Coalinga, that was a beauty!

On the surface, it was a typical disaster, with lots of buildings destroyed. Ground motions were estimated at 20-60%g by those nasty people who only think of PGA! I estimate the PGV at about 0.5 to 1 m/s. It's something that would knock you off your feet on the soft ground. It was an M6.7 earthquake, fairly close.

But the detailed study showed that only the usual suspects (loose brick) were destroyed! Anything that had the tiniest thought of resisting earthquakes did quite well. This was one of the major earthquakes that led the new discipline of 'Seismic Experience', which, as I have told you before, has been buried by self-interest groups. As usual, they found that pipes were never damaged.

The aftershocks were notable, mainly that there was an M6.0 right under a steam plant. Not a speck of damage! This earthquake alone convinced me that all those seismic analysis people were quacks! But they have the big money, and the next nuclear reactor will cost a billion dollars more because of it.

Review Fuji S2000HD

Ok, this recession is as bad as the horrible snowstorm outside, but there are some advantages. For example, the women went shopping, and everything that was $200 is now about $20. Since they went nuts, I bought a new camera. It was heavily discounted.

This 'Megazoom' series first started with the -7000, and I bought the -9000 a few years ago. This is the camera with which I did all my water polo shots and videos. It was absolutely sh*t quality, but it was light, and you could zoom the videos. After a year, I had to take it apart, and carve a toothpick to replace a broken shaft. It finally died when the usb port punched out, and the whole thing shorted.

But, what the heck, I got the new replacement, the S2000HD. It takes HD videos! The first thing I did was to put a test on Youtube:

It doesn't look that HD, but they are working on doing these things. I'll wait until they chew on it some more.

Anyway, this camera has a tremendous zoom, 10M pictures, and is very light. I've handled the new interchangeable lens cameras, and I don't think they are worth the weight. I never change lenses! Big Scoop: They've ditched the loser xD card format, and only use SD. I'm getting a 16G card! The video compression on HD is fantastic. It's a fraction of the old price.

Big Loser: The usb does not like Linux, but as I've seen with the other camera, I shouldn't use the usb port (a new ugly connection!), and just go with a cheap usb-sd stick. The camera will last a lot longer!

The proof in the pudding will be my next water polo tournament. If the daughter continues with Varsity water polo, then I'll have many more years of fun.

Lisa Riatt and the Chalk River Blues


Poor Lisa! But I think she looks a lot better than old Lunnie, when avoiding reporter questions. Sooner or later, when this 'Dorian Gray' reactor finally meets its maker, she'll really be in the piss-pot!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No Ban Like a Quake Ban


Quake Ban Lifted! Yeah! As if you would really know where the next earthquake hits. As long as you find a good solid piece of rock, you're fine.

Chalk River Reactor Limps Along


Patched together by binder twine and chewing gum, the old beast sputters away, providing the world's only source of medical isotopes. I've been in nuclear all my life, and this is the most horrific situation I've ever imagined, especially since I know exactly what will happen when the earthquake hits.

So here's toast to the Old Gal: "May you spring a thousand more leaks, for you are the Harper Horribilus, and can never die!"

Monday, January 26, 2009

Useless Deep Documents Issued


Oh neat! The Deep Geology Thingie hearings have issued their usual procedural documents. Lawyers will jump for joy at this! Lots of letters will be written! Oh joy.

Canada Infrastructure: Obama-Opposite


I don't know why I latched onto this. It's just that I think there might be a new era of blogging down in the States, but up here we're firmly Bush Era. That is, spend a lot of money without a speck of intelligence! How will new infrastructure projects be handled here? Same as always, in back offices, with a lot of heavy drinking. It's not that I have anything against the alcoholics, whoops, hard curling drinkers, that control out lives, it's just what they end up doing. They live such a life of excuses and cover-ups, that everything they do is flavoured by this.

I don't think that Iggy is our new Obama, since I get the impression that he wants to be a Sun King, as much as that other guy. Down the road, we'll be stuck in our backwater, and something new may happen below the border. Stay tuned for our ultimate backroom deal: the new nuclear plant!

Travelling Geologist


This is such a nice 'feel good' story. I love it!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Disaster of the Niagara Tunnel - Part 5

Part 1, Part 2 Part 3
Part 4

Ok, let's put this one to bed, and let the pennies fall as they may!

The poor little Austrian tunnelers proceeded as they always had before: bid low, and pile on the extras! But this time would be extra worse!

They were used to tunneling in uniform rock with the major stress aligned with gravity.

If you bore a hole in such a rock, you will get a very benevolent stress distribution. Low stress in the roof, which has to be tacked in with a few bolts, and low stress in the floor, which is settled by gravity. The walls nearly always take the higher stress because of the increased confinement of the circular geometry. This is extremely stable.

On the other hand, there is a problem if you dare punch a circular hole through rock with high horizontal stresses.

This is actually quite a bad situation. Gravity is no longer your friend! At the roof, the rock starts to go back in time, like the Button Guy, and all the formational micro-shears are activated. The shale interbeds start to crumble, leaving the limestone all alone. The intense stress activates the latent jointing, and big hunks of rock start to fall. The exact same thing is happening at the floor, but nobody ever notices that!

As the failure progresses, weird and wonderful things happen. The stress continues to concentrate at the tips, causing more failure, and the stress lines shift. That means more and more of the side rock mass is becoming stress relieved. This is just like our laboratory experiment! The rock slowly expands into the tunnel with a tremendous force.

What is to be done? In a normal overbreak situation, the loose rock is chewed out (scaled), and filled with concrete. The liner has to be a lot thicker to accommodate the extra weight. This, of course, drifts us farther away from 'fantasy'. A thicker liner has a tremendous effect on flow, thanks to the cube law.

This is not a normal situation! I frankly don't have a clue what to do! As the sides continue to expand, they will crush any liner. Nearly all corrective work is done on the roof, and never on the floor. I fear the whole tunnel is lost.



Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Disaster of the Niagara Tunnel - Part 4

Part 1, Part 2 Part 3

I'll actually be saving this in draft, to accumulate some text, which is something I usually cannot do (I have to blab everything as soon as possible!)

As I've said, formational micro-shear is what makes this rock the sinister spawn of the devil, (I'm going this route, in case they try to suck me into their billion dollar lawsuit. Who would want a nut-case?).

The Queenston Shale formed after the giant mountain ranges of the Precambrian finally sunk back into the sea. As we recall, our Ontario Megathrust Faults were involved in the creation of the mountains, but they also entered into obscurity.

So, at the end of this orgy of mountain building (orogeny...orgy... get it? ha, Ha!... Ow my back!), we had a big peaceful inland sea. You may wonder, how come we had all these inland seas, and don't have them now? It's because, as Darwin noted, continents go up and down like big hot air balloons. One moment they override a hot piece of mantle ... up!, and the next they go over some very cold slabs ... down!

So, the main mountain building activity was during the next collision, just east of this inland sea. At times, a huge rush of sediment came in, with slits and clays, which formed the shale. Then everything was still for a long time, and it rained down kettle scale, like the stuff I just cleaned out of my water cooler, -- yuck!. This formed the limestone layers.

Well, there were more continental collisions and this stuff was buried and baked. None of it was uniform, like a big hunk of limestone. No, everything hardened at different rates, lots of fluid motion, internal shearing, etc. The results can be viewed in the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) slides.

In relatively recent times, this rock has been squeezed tightly by continental high horizontal stresses, most likely associated with regional tectonic motions. It's all made for a complex mess!

So, imagine that we have a giant Star Trek transporter that can take a 50 foot cube of rock, and place it in our laboratory. If we go to normal rock, such as granite, or the chalk of the English Channel, we can pre-instrument the cube, haul it out and place it on our frictionless surface. We would find that the rock would expand, due to the confining stresses being removed. We could recompress the rock with giant presses, back to its original size, and that would be a measure of the in-situ stresses. The rock is elastic!

Not so the Devil Rock! If we took it out and instrumented it, we would find that it slowly expands like compressed cellophane, with great crackling. Slowly, vertical joints would appear out of nowhere, along hidden micro-alignments. The rock would undergo a great transformation, and we could never squeeze it back into it's original state. The rock would continue to expand for months!

-- damn back!

The Disaster of the Niagara Tunnel - Part 3

Part 1, Part 2

I'm doing this in small chunks, as long as my back holds out! Now, you may notice that I am writing this, with a bit of colour, as though it were the Titanic. In a way it is, the story of technical hubris, and Nature that taught them a lesson. It will be as every bit expensive, but with the lack of bodies.

Now, the Devil Rock was every bit as nasty as icebergs. How can a rock be beyond a mere lump of rock? But being riddled with micro-shears, which are the 'neurons' of ancient rock memory. How else can you explain the official excuse of: "The rock attacked us! Vertical joints suddenly appeared, when none showed up in the vertical cores!" This is truly a rock of malevolent nature, and will be expressed as such in the court case, since in order to reap his millions, the contractor must show he was totally laid low by the mystery of the rock; and his misfortune is the result of OPG getting the rock mad.

How was such a rock formed? We have done many studies of this rock, all of which are tied up behind the pay wall. I looked for all the things we funded, and couldn't find a scrap! Some may take this to be a lack of evidence, but I am above such mere trifles!

Ouch! My friggin' back! I give up!

Lake Erie Ice

A famous videographer has contacted me, and like Obama, I don't want to keep anything I say a secret, unless it's worth a lot of money! (now, he wouldn't do that!). So, here is what I said.

At the end of this cold snap, get a helicopter and go out on the ice. Your object will be to reproduce the famous Grass Video, which has been lost to history. Hopefully, you will be able to film the dynamic formation of these ice ridges, especially the tectonic subduction, as the flat ice is shoved by the wind under the ridge.

The Disaster of the Niagara Tunnel - Part 2


So, they had this perfect fantasy plan, and all that was left was to hoodwink the Provincial Government. Not that any dishonesty was involved, since they were all hookwinked themselves. Such is the power of the self-similar organization!

The fly in the ointment was that they were going through Devil Rock, the most insidious and evil rock known to man! The old tunnelers knew better than that. They could feel it in their bones. The old tunnels skirted the Heart of Darkness, and popped out early for the St. David's Gorge.

Ah, that gorge! That perfect piece of tunneling horror! Once an old path of the Niagara River, the gods themselves buried it to seal in the evil. :) (I'm reading some classic novels!).

As can be seen, not only did they have the hubris to enter the territory of the Devil Rock (just below the old tunnels), they were going for an area where the rock was extremely irritated, due to the presence of the old gorge. In more scientific terms, the Queenston Shale would have been under much higher stresses under the gorge.

And why was this rock so evil? It was not like ordinary rock, which instantly springs back when stresses are relieved, no this rock retained all the memory of its tumultuous upbringing, brooding on it, hating the world. (There I go again!).

-my back is going out! ---to be continued.

Earthquake Wine Racks


When the earthquake comes, the wine goes. Such a pity!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mud Chokes Earthquake River


My back is still killing me, so I have to keep things short. A nice article on the impact of the earthquake on the environment, mainly in the form of mud. It is a jungle, and hopefully will recover fairly quickly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Disaster of the Niagara Tunnel - Part 1

Sometime soon, when the birdies start to sing, and the snow melts, we will hear the grand judgment of our finest political minds, as to what nuclear design Ontario will choose. It will be down to the perfidious French or the plague-struck AECL.
Now, as always, people will eventually be attuned to the tremendous cost overruns. But should we be? Shouldn't we just throw in those cost overruns a the beginning, as a normal event? For example, Pt. Lepreau had a chance to 'lock in' costs at $450 million over a standard nuclear estimate. They chose to go for the lower estimate and absorb any cost overruns. They will soon be up to the same value!

Now, for the wonderful cost overruns that we should expect for Ontario, we only have to look at the saga of the Niagara Tunnel, in all its glory. This is especially relevant, since all the people who started this, are now in charge of the new nuclear build.

It all started a long time ago, children. That was in the wild days of the end of the Victorian (gas lamps, Sherlock Holmes) and the beginning of the Edwardian (electric lights, machine guns). Niagara Falls was a gold rush! People started riddling it with tunnels and sucking away all the water. It was realized that soon there wouldn't be a drop of water to go over the falls (a waste of good energy!), and a political battle ensued, between US and Canadian power producers, and the namby-pamby tourist lovers. A treaty was formed that allocated exact amounts of water for each country, and the amount for the pretty falls, which could be cut back at night when nobody was looking.

Now, most of that allocation got used up pretty quickly over the next fifty years, especially once the twin tunnels came into play. With that system, they could totally suck up all the water, and they did so, on occasion, when they had to repair the falls.

In my beginning years I had many tales of the twin tunnels from those who actually put them through. They essentially used the last solid rock layer above the Queenston Shale, which was the Whirlpool Sandstone. Because of the roof, they started out as a horseshoe, but tended to go into a box.

This was very fortunate for our tunnelers, who also left the tunnels unlined for some time, allowing the rock to move.

That would normally be the end of all new development, and no new tunnel, except for the fact that the old power stations were falling apart! They were either being hammered by the relentless erosion of the Niagara River upon the shitty shale, or they had the dreadful 'Rock Squeeze Disease". Now, RSD is a horrible condition for a tunnel. As the Toronto Power wheelpit showed, it did not matter how much concrete was in the lining, everything got crunched up anyway.

Thus, the demolition of these plants allowed a water allocation gap. The Americans with their lawyers were clamoring for 'use it or lose it', and they wanted to steal it all. We Canadians had to do something for national pride. Thus, we have the delicious irony that the new tunnel was formed out of the very forces that now threaten to destroy it!

Now, while I was there, we looked at this for thirty years, and could never find a good use for this little scrap of water. Nothing seemed worthwhile! But we had a giant reorganization, all the smart geotechnical guys went to Hong Kong, I went to Nuclear, and we had the leftovers in Niagara. At some point, it came to a head: The Americans were about to seize our water! Without a speck of practical knowledge, the Canadians came back with a desperate plan!

It all depended on making an absolutely perfect fantasy tunnel directly between the upper river and the pumped storage. This dammed lake being a place to store the water stolen at night, and they had to extend the height. Thus, they could siphon that small amount of water, and feed it through the established plant.

Of course, to even conceive of the fantasy tunnel, they would have to get rid of all memory of the horrible rock conditions, and this was no problem for them; they got somebody from Europe! A fantasy tunnel would have to be a perfectly smooth bore, done by a tunnel boring machine, and requiring a minimal concrete erosion liner. This had been done somewhere in the world.

Fantasy Tunnel with Thin Liner

Now why was the layout of this fantasy tunnel so important? It's because it was a very long tunnel, and you can only get so big with a used tunneling machine (cheaper!). They had very little room to work with! As well, nasty old physics was working against them in the form of a cubed law for water flow down a tube. The teeniest increase in the liner thickness had a huge effect! In fact, they could notice the effect of summer scum on the flow of the twin tunnels!

So, the tunnel boring machine had to bore glass-smooth walls for this to work. And somewhere in the world somebody took pictures of this, so it had to work!

But, alas, the best laid plans of mice and managers oft go to the crapper.

-to be continued with suitable pennies thrown.

Lots of Seismic Death Traps in San Francisco


No comments, since I'm miserable about my clickage.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Fallacy of Fault Finding


Here's where it gets tricky. Without me actually saying this guy is crazy<-<-<-unusual, which I never would do, since he could sue me, we have here the case of a new fault being discovered.

There are zillions of these faults! Most of them are dead. Now, I'm not crazy when I say my Hamilton Fault is a big threat, since that is backed up with a lot of other information, other than the mere fact it exists. A threat-fault has to have a mechanism to continue the seismicity, or it locks up and dies.

So, throughout my career, people have 'discovered' faults, and immediately declared them a major threat to humanity. They were wrong. I, on the other hand, have only got 2 cents for all my work today, and therefore am finished.

Turkey Moves N-plant Closer to Fault


Turkey is having its problems trying to get a nuclear plant. First, anybody that anybody has ever heard of, ran away screaming, leaving some shady company bidding a high price. Now, the authorities are canceling this, claiming the price is too high, and moving the plant closer to the North Anatolian Fault, which will make it cheaper.

You can see from the map, that there probably isn't any place that is good for an n-plant, but there are places which are worse than others. All the population is along the Black Sea, probably made more habitable by the monstrous fault, much like the San Andreas and California. So, let's put a Russian Mafia nuclear plant on it, yeah!

Wind Turbines to Decorate Scarborough Bluffs


Yeah! More clothes hangers are to be installed off-shore of my favourite Scarborough Bluffs. I used to live there as a little kid, and we would constantly risk our lives scaling those things. I think they've flattened out a bit now, with all the jetties being installed.

Well, these things are sure to be net carbon wasters, since this is not a very windy place. As I've said before, the Pickering turbine never turned in the summer, and during very windy days, it was turned off.

Now, I remember having a Scout Jamboree on Prince Edward Island, right by the Atlantic. The constant heavy wind was a torture! That would be a nice place for a bird-killing wind turbine, except the potatoes don't need much power.

Corn Starch Geology


This is neat! A simple experiment applied to geology. I think it's better than using foam rubber to model earthquakes!

Stanford Earthquake Drill


I just like stories about earthquake drills.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lepreau Work as Good as the Niagara Tunnel


Growing delays. I chew that term in my brain. Do delays grow, or fester? Is it lengthening delays? Sinking hopes? What is a good idiom for all these future major projects conducted by the nameless self-similar bureaucracies? Perpetual delays?

Handy-Dandy Tips for Surviving the Great Toronto Earthquake

I told somebody to look this up in my past writings, but they couldn't find it. God knows I never look in the old bog attic! So, I thought I'd whip it up again, from scratch. First, a note on probability: The odds of a big earthquake hitting Toronto aren't any worse than an M6.3 hitting any other 'hotspot' in Eastern North America. It's just that I live here. And the odds for a major urban disaster are the same for any city, hovering at one in ten thousand per year. So, if you were rolling a ten thousand sided die every year, you would hope the red face didn't come up! There are probably a lot less sides for the Toronto Earthquake die.


Be aware of your surroundings! Nine tenths of your seismic hazard has to do with what's around you, and not the regional geology. There are huge amplifications with soft ground that negate the difference between Toronto and Los Angeles. Are you on hopeless soft ground? Do you have an old brick house with no mortar in the chimney?

The big hazard will be bricks falling on you. Be ready to stand in the doorways until everything falls. Do not have heavy things over your bed, like trophy cases. Be prepared to see all your Royal Dalton shattered.

If you feel industrious, you can fix things up beforehand, like getting mortar, but what the heck!

Be prepared for after the earthquake. Lots of aftershocks, stay away from the bricks. Life is not going to be happy for 3 to 5 days. Toronto doesn't have a clue what to do. Have a radio to find out what they are blaming everything on! Maybe there will be shelters, but expect the water, power, and gas to be off. Makes for a fun January! Help will rush in from surrounding areas, but you are going to have to camp for a few days, since I can't imagine the shelters will in good shape. No evacuating either, since there will be no place to go, and the bridges are going to be buggered. If you are on the 50th floor of a high-rise, you can watch all the fires below, and be prepared to walk a lot of stairs!

Even the worst scenario only has a few dozen killed, since most housing stock will ride it out. So keep your emergency kit ready!

Added note: As pointed out to me, the doorway bit is not the latest 'thang' from California. It's just that I don't expect 1 m/s motions in Toronto, and there really aren't good tables to duck under in every room. If you missed the P-wave and are being hit by swamp-waves, go to the floor right away and cover up.

Earthquakes and Religion

I got a note today from a very religious person, troubled by visions of catastrophic earthquakes in Toronto, and volcanoes in northern Ontario. I've been lucky as a geologist, in that I can feel for this person.

It all starts with modules in the brain. Evolution never abandons anything that is useful, it merely adds new layers. I've been reading the latest module they've uncovered processes simple numbers, and is activated immediately in babies. It may be a very ancient animal module. The brain uses all these modules for distributed processing, which is why we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

They have also made great progress in working out the 'religious' module. Certain chemicals can activate it, and it lights up in brain scans. In fact, they have had some success in using Ecstasy to review severe traumatic episodes, and so, 'calm' them down, to turn down anxiety. This module is the next best thing to alcohol to help people get through the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

As an intellectual depressive, I have always had problems in getting my brain to calm down. As a geologist I have had the religious module activated when I have come across great geological works, such as faults, cliffs, mountains. I even felt it when I touched an ancient Inca stone wall. I have read most of the Bible, as bedtime reading to attempt to calm down.

This module suppresses the rational, anxious, depressive layer, and is a sort of suicidal, submission to a greater power. I can see it would have been of great use to pack wolves, to live with submission to the pack leader. They will probably find that this module is very ancient.

However, I always recoil from things that appear to be addictive, such as Youtube videos, computer games, fine wines, drugs, etc. I usually try for a while, and say: "Shit, this could be addictive!!". Then I leave it. Many people don't.

So, although I feel for the deeply religious, I can have no communication with them, since they have abandoned the nastier, depressive, questing, rational layer of the brain. They accept the articles of faith, laid down by a greater power. They are nice people, but we should never let them run anything! True separation of Church and State. I think 'Dubya' taught us that!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Picked by the best geologists in the US Senate


This is a good article on the whole Yuk Yuk Mountain thing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Merely arousing their sense of danger


Wow, another article from Japan. I always got the impression that everyone was in a big sleep about their hopeless government, but this article shows some life. It's all about some bizarre earthquake subsidies.

In Japan, most of the old houses are disasters waiting to happen. But a handy-dandy government subsidy allows you to find out how really doomed you are. But no way to fix it!

Needless to say, not many people are taking them up on the offer. Ignorance is bliss!

Japan Gov't Gets Wet


Here's a good geophysics story, so I can keep my standing as a geoblogger! Tired of being dinged by undersea faults, they have decided to search them out. Perhaps it's about time? But we won't get into that. But one thing is for sure, we will never hear about the results.

Terremoto Gemelo


Here I go, running ahead of my ad income again, but I just loved this article. Terremoto Gemelo. Doesn't that just run off the tongue! It means twin destructive earthquakes, and Costa Rica has a history of them.

As the article says, I'm surprised they just have twins, and not triplets or quads! So, everybody is just tensed up, waiting for the second shoe to drop. I wish them the best.

Infrastructure Incompetence

As I recover with zapped back --New Year's Resolution: I'm going to become as flexible as a ballerina!-- I look upon all these latest infrastructure disasters, and how badly they have been handled. Just look at the Olympium Pool disaster and how it was never even acknowledged by anyone. I just got a note from a member who tells me all the lockers were ripped out, and they don't tell anybody anything.

And now the big freeze in downtown Toronto. This was in a 1930's building with a 1930's sprinkler system. Can you imagine what will happen in an earthquake?

Yes Virginia, our infrastructure is being handled badly. But why? I think it's because giant evil self-similar bureaucracies are controlling it, with their narrow-focus unions, who have to be that way for self-defence. Can you imagine a bright young union electrician going into that hydro vault and noticing the sprinkler system was decrepit? He would be told: "It's not your job." Even if he persisted, they would kill him for it, since it would reflect badly on the sprinkler union, and management.

So, as I've said before, all these failures follow a Power Law, which is a horrible thing. We can expect all the little failures, such as the Olympium to be hushed up, and we will get hit by the huge failures. If there is an earthquake, we get hit all at once.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Earthquake Evacuation with 20 Crazed Cats


I have a single smallish dog, has starred in my videos. Cindy The Wonderdog could be grabbed like a football in an emergency evacuation. But, if an evacuation plan gets too bleeding heartish over animals? Then it sounds like this one, with nobody in charge, and nobody wanting to offend anyone. You are going to have to say to the cat lady: "Your 20 hostile cats will have to take care of themselves! We'll throw food from helicopters!"

This article implies that we might have to kill some children to save the pets, since 'pets are children'. If my family was in danger, and the dog had to go, so be it.

I think things could get ugly for Richmond BC, in an earthquake, since they are in the mountains. I hope they get a better emergency plan.

Softly on Soft Storys


In car-mad California, it is common to rip out all the shear walls on the first story to make room for cars. These buildings end up looking like they're on stilts.

Isn't that a beauty? So what happens when the old earthquake comes along? The whole story disappears, crunching the cars, and collapsing the rest of the building.

Now, nowhere can anyone condemn a building for not meeting modern codes. As they say in the article, you can only choose not to live there, and pay twice as much rent for a safer building! I wonder who does that?

Back Spasm Floors the Old Guy

Yesterday I had one of my 'Grand Mal' back spasms. I hadn't had one for years! Normally I keep them away by exercise and stretching, but I get lazy. And I've enjoyed my Sony bookreader so much, I was probably sitting too much, and the cold seemed to keep me in.

Oh, boy! I was flat on the floor, couldn't get up! I started wolfing down pain killers to dangerous levels, and was getting worried how I could get up to pee! The pain coursed through me like the proverbial hot needles. Luckily, I have a routine to get me back up again, but it causes even more pain. I started icing, and stretching, and moaning!

I'm fine now, but a little stiff. Pain killers down to normal dose. Makes you feel good to be alive!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Toronto Starts Giving Emergency Advice


"Get a stupid radio!". That's it. That's all the advice from Toronto.

Toronto the smug never thinks that anything is going to happen to it. It ignores the fact that it is right on top of a major fault that is bubbling away with earthquakes. It doesn't have a clue of what will happen.

I've written about this in the past, but we'll assume an M6.3 earthquake on the Hamilton fault. It's a shallow thrust fault, and will have the full power of a 'Fist of God' pulse earthquake. Toronto is on the hanging wall of the fault, which has the worst shaking. As the pulse hits, it knocks out all the electrical power and gas around the west end of Lake Ontario. Many more electrical substations get hit. The electrical grid starts to collapse.

If it's right now, all the bridges are at the max for their expansion joints because of the cold. Many slabs fall down. Many buildings damaged, the older hospitals damaged beyond repair. The seismic waves, and the grid collapse, hit the nuclear stations at the same time. The all shut down and poison out. No reactors are left running.

Damage is extensive in the older sections of Toronto, with brick buildings on swamp. All power and gas is out. Many water mains, on the verge of busting anyway, burst. Most water is lost. There is only 5% building damage in Toronto, because of mostly firm foundations, but that's hundreds of millions of dollars.

And many more things, but I don't have the desire to go down that road. (Stuff like Black Start and all that.) Still, you need more than a radio for this. You need your full 3 day camping equipment! Have fun!

Nuclear Waste Site Proving to be Unstable


Whew! I'm doing a lot of articles, without much ad money. Must find a way to stop myself!

A most interesting article. The wonderful Germans thought it would be fun to dump barrels of nuclear waste into a salt mine. Must have been hit by a bout of 'Homeritis'. Now, I remember when everybody was looking into salt for nuclear waste, and the big US bomb-disposal site is in salt.

Salt, but its very nature, is totally unstable. Salt domes are being continuously extruded by rock stresses. Since salt is so weak, it is always at its strength limit, but it has the property to creep slowly. Thus, when you make an excavation, the creep process is immediately activated. (...much like the Niagara tunnel!)

They used to think this was a wonderful thing, since the salt 'closes' any cracks, and is essentially impermeable to water. But, on a longer scale, you are excavating into 'molasses in January'. So, the poor Germans are worried about the whole thing collapsing and closing in, which is what they wanted in the first place. This is a lesson about choosing totally unstable rock, such as for the deep Bruce thingie. It is not a good idea!

Extreme Cold Causes 'Earthquakes'


Not really earthquakes, but 'quake-like impressions'. Trees can explode, ice on the lake cracks, the ground can rupture, roofs can shift, etc.

The interesting side comment is that a Magnitude 6.3 earthquake, which can happen under Hamilton, at the same odds of any other place, will only cause brick siding damage. I think it would cause a lot more damage, especially on the swamps, and where the 'fist' hits.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Having Your Nuclear Cake and Eating it, too


My opinion of this man can sink no lower. But I am fascinated in how such a person can call himself a leader of the country. He doesn't do the honest thing and say: "Let's throw all this nuclear waste in North Dakota". No, he weasels, and says: "Let's not worry about it as long as I need to get elected.". "Let's have lots of nuclear power, and let the waste rot on the shores of the Hudson River, above New York City."

In the end, as always, I can laugh or cry, and I choose to laugh at this situation.

Please note, I have not invoked this dark lord's name, so as to not get his white-cloaked minions after me!

Fast Breeder Back from the Dead


Here's something to send shivers down your spine. The Japanese, who have a problem with earthquakes, are thinking about bringing back a corroded old fast breeder reactor. Wow!

These things are complex, and have never worked right, without a zillion things going wrong. They make those horrible boiling reactors look earthquake resistant! Anyway, I'm pretty confident they can't make it work, all their smart people have died of old age, and their young people are all Paris Hiltons, who enjoy the crashing population numbers, since it makes for better shopping. (Just kidding, Japan!).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Germans to build nuclear in Britain


That's what I'm talking about! Why not take over Ontario? Surely they know what they're doing. Or maybe that's why they don't want to have anything to do with Ontario....

New Guy for New Nuclear


I've been waiting for this for a long time. A guy to finally replace the last external guy they booted out because he earned too much money. This new guy appears to be a minor executive for a Canadian engineering company that is probably being killed by the re-pression, so he can't be asking for much.

So, a toast to the new guy! What horrors will he find? How long will he last? Will they ever decide anything, so he can attempt to build his new plant? Exciting times.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Darn Cold - Ice Event Due at Pickering

Lake Ontario never freezes over, like Lake Erie, but it can get a frosting when it's this cold. This is bad for Pickering Nuclear Power Plant, which sucks all its water in a silt-clogged trench. When lots of slushy ice comes in, it clogs up all the screens and the plant has to shut down.

The last time this happened ten years ago, the management thundered to us to never let it happen again! Despite many protests, we put in this most useless ice boom in the channel, which has to be put in every year. Needless to say, the ice boom worked perfectly! There hasn't been any ice for ten years.

Now it may be tested. I've said that the water is so shallow, and so fast that the frazzle ice will just be shoved underneath. The happy people say all the ice will be held by the boom, much like the Niagara ice boom. Now it comes to a test! We all wait to see if Pickering has to shut down, and in doing so, will also test the brand spanking new emergency power plant, which may or may not be working. Who would have thought that ice could be so much fun!

Canada's Top Infrastructure Projects


And the new nuclear plants at Darlington aren't on the list! Perhaps they have given up on these, due to the long history of bungling.

And they should add a few billion more to the Niagara Tunnel.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Magnetic field and climate


Who would guess from the 'hockey stick guys' that the earth's climate is extremely complex. I like any article that has some physics in it.

I remember the first cloud chamber I saw when I was a kid. You could watch the cosmic rays zap a trail of cloud. Sometimes the collisions would form twirly things, and it was all very fascinating. They had to peel me away from it!

So perhaps this happens up in the clouds above the rain forests. Who knows?

Battle of the Nuclear Cost Overruns


It's like a giant hot potato! Everybody wants to saddle the other guy with cost overruns, since they will come like rain in the Spring.

Earthquake wipes out tourist attractions


I always found that the most amazing natural tourist attractions are the most geologically unstable, simply because they are rare in time and space. Thus, the big waterfall in Costa Rica is now wiped out forever, along with an unstable gem of a rain-forest valley. At least the volcano didn't wake up!

Nuclear Analysis


A fine little article defining the horns of the dilemma. No private concern is going to finance this stuff, but society needs them. This leaves what I've always said, that we'll have to go back to the old way of government-backed Hydro bonds. This violates trade agreements, but everybody is doing it!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Etobicoke Olympium Pool Suddenly Dumps into the Basement

I know this has nothing to do with nothing, but it's a dramatic event when it happens right under your feet! There we were playing in a big water polo tournament, when they noticed the pool was visibly lowering. This is an absolutely huge Olympic pool! By they time they started the evacuation, the pool was half empty! All the kids were going down to splash in the basement! And there's big gym and running track down there.

Needless to say our tournament has been disrupted. We're having games in other pools around the city.

Big Becky Gets off Lightly


Many thanks to an alert reader, about this pap. John Murphy, the former union guy, is making pronouncements. Good on him!

The Star has no choice but to swallow this stuff, since it is not capable of asking the tough questions, and Murphy isn't capable of answering them. No wonder the papers are laying off staff! But I'm not ranting, since I haven't been paid enough this week....

AECL on Tenterhooks


Blah, blah, more of the same. Billions of dollars at stake, etc. Ontario will have to pick AECL.

California Earthquakes Popping Along


Apparently it was a shakier year in California, than previously. They seem to be coming off a 15 year lull in earthquakes. You never know what any of this means.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Longing to Raise Nuclear Plant on Volcano


Ah, the lovely Philippines, where not one speck of ground can be called stable. This is an active island arc. Can any volcano be called dormant? This plant was a total criminal job, you think they didn't skimp on the cement powder? But, they want to raise the Titanic, and run it through the icebergs again. Perhaps they can get it privately financed by California...

Vermont Yankee Piddles


I was going to title this 'World's Crappiest Nuclear Plant', but I didn't, what with all these models suing bloggers. So I will just call it 'Rather Pathetic'.

Geology Hits Bruce Power


One day Bruce Power may give up selecting new sites with a map on a dartboard, but I doubt it. They gave up on Peace River, but the magic dart hit on another site.

Ok Brucie Buddy, here are the basics: You need solid rock, plentiful, reliable water, and you need to be away from big nasty earthquake faults. I'm sorry your existing site is a loser, but you can't pick other sites just as bad.

I just can't wait to see their new site!

Japan too Bankrupt to Retrofit


Apparently California is in the same boat. Since they can't tax, they can only raise money by selling bonds, and who wants to buy that crap?

Japan has a great solution to the fact it can't fix any schools, just don't tell anybody anything! That way, they don't cause 'anxiety'. And Vancouver is bitchin' their retrofits are going too slow!

Far better off, on the anxiety front, are those you don't have the slightest worry about earthquakes. Nothing is cheaper than ignorance!

Florida Goes for the AP1000


Florida has gone for two Westinghouse AP1000's. This is a good design, and I wish we had gone for this in Ontario, on a bigger site than Darlington. There won't be any geology done here, since it's on an existing site. There's a real question on how the financing will work, but they've already jacked up electricity rates to pay for it.

Mexico Earthquake Continued

First Article

I just wanted to finish this up, since right now I'm dying with nothing to write about, even though I did get a few clicks the other day.

Mexico 1985 had a few lessons, right and wrong.

Wrong Lesson

It reinforced the traditional sinusoid, shake table view. The geometric basin amplified by a factor of ten, and the soft soils amplified by another factor of ten. Outside the basin, the ground motion was barely felt. The earthquake destroyed some really crappy mafia-concrete buildings, in a sinusoid manner. The first ground motions cracked all the concrete, and softened the structures, so that they resonated at a very low frequency. This hooked in exactly with the soft soil motions. Destruction!

Right Lesson

Any decent structure survived. These buildings did not crack on the first motions, and did not hook into the very low frequencies.

As well, at the epicentre, not a speck of piping was damaged! Piping is never damaged! But do you know how many billions go into seismic piping analysis, and the horrible consequences of that phony analysis? Yes, the old company is full of it.


In the end, the wrong lessons dominated. The piping seismic engineers did not want to put themselves out of work. The structural engineers continued with their shake tables, energy absorbers, modal analysis, etc. The world went on.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Earthquake would be the final nail


The Great Depression had a few more things going for it, other than mere human foolishness. It had the Long Beach Earthquake of 1933, and the Dust Bowl.

As the article says, if there were to be a big earthquake in California, everybody would walk (hobble) away from their uninsured, mortgaged to the hilt, houses. This would require another Obama-trillion to clean up the mess! And the US-gov is mortgaged to the hilt!

So, no mortage-earthquakes for a while!

Big Rockburst in Mine


Yeah, somebody clicked, so I'll do something! This was a fairly big rockburst, measuring out at M3.8. Luckily nobody was hurt. It would be interesting if they had extra seismic monitoring, and one could look for signals that would have given some indication that the mechanism was starting up.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

For Whom the Earthquake Tolls


Well, they've summed up the earthquake deaths in 2008, as about 88 thousand. I don't know what to say.

Bruce New Year Resolutions


"To go where no one has been thick enough to go before!"

Yes, they intend to push on Nanticoke, and all of their other silly sites, especially the Bruce C swamp. And we love them for it!

I've Got Those Hydro Hummin' Blues

transmission line hum, transformer hum, infrasonics

Another letter from a fan:

Hi Harold,

I read with interest your blog on Nov 18 about infrasonics and some farmers hydro line. I have been getting a humming sound entering our two storey wood frame house via our hydro line rack and have been getting nowhere with the local power company to accept any responsibility. We live near a hydro easement (in farm country) that has three runs of high voltage lines running perpendicular to our local service along the road. If I listen to the poles along our road, they hum and vibrate quite loudly and I am convinced that this is the noise entering our house. I wondered if the high voltage is the origin of the noise and if the noise can be transferred to the lines running along our road then into our own hydro line? What do you think?

Signed: Hate Hydro Hummin'

Dear Hum,

Most likely. As I said with my long run on this, you need to measure this with a usb accelerometer, just like the other guy is doing. Get a power spectrum on the poles, and one at the house. It's expensive to fix, since you need an acoustic break of loose wire. If the power company owns the connection, you will have to force them by being a pain in the ass.

I think all the Hum Haters should get together and we'll form a club! You can pay me in ad clicks. We'll put together a form letter to the power company, along the line of: Dear Dipsticks, here is the spectrum of your lines, and here is my house. Put it together! Fix it!

Consultants do their job of recommending more work


The number one job of an engineering consultant is to recommend more work. I never saw a consultant report that didn't do this. In this case, they got a fat 'no bid' contract to do some more drilling.

Although this dam may slump a bit in an earthquake, there is no giant wall of water, just over-topping, and slow erosion. Is this serious when all the buildings have collapsed? I suppose it would affect rescue work, but I'm sure all the damage would have been done in the main event.

So, there is going to be more drilling.

An Earthquake Guy Talks to a Rotary Club


This is soooo cute, and actually an interesting article. It shows the current mess of US seismic monitoring. They can't locate the earthquakes because of no monitors nearby. The state has to come up with a paltry amount of money, so they can get a few seismometer installations at $50K a pop (must be union labour!). These will be 'their' seismometers! Heaven help earthquakes on the border!

Water and Earthquakes


Yeah, the clicking fingers are finally loosening up. I cleared a dollar yesterday, so I shall elucidate this concept.

Over in Vancouver, they are regularly having this 'silent slips', accompanied by earthquake tremor. Acts just like the geysers on the Rising Yellowstone SuperVolcano. (the people now raise their arms, run around and scream like chickens)

Now, they have finally figured out that this is caused by water. The water gets trapped, builds up pressure, and releases. Scientists haven't progressed to the point that water is involved with other types of earthquakes, but they're getting there. So, I chalk this up in my Water ==> Earthquakes column.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Nuclear Power is Ridiculously Expensive


Yeah! This should weed out the idiots! Nobody mentions that the cost of not having the power soars as well! I think we can now safely assume that nuclear power will never be financed by private means.

In a gloomier mood (and boy, am I ad-click gloomy!), I would assume that we have to freeze in the dark for a while to get rational, or we have to choke on coal fumes. But I'm just blog-gloomy, and I think people will get rational as we approach disaster, perhaps in time to avoid it!

The rational path to nuclear power, and nuclear waste is open, but it is currently a political impossibility. Thus, something has to happen, that won't be pleasant.

Predictions for 2009

-Ontario will choose AECL to build on the Darlington postage stamp. A total lack of attention to fundamental scientific issues will lead to something that makes Finland look happy-happy.

-a big earthquake will happen somewhere in the world. Stone houses will fall and kill people.

-all the hearings love the Bruce Deep Swimming Pool, and it gets the go-ahead. The price of grout powder soars!

-Bruce Power will give up on Nanticoke when all of Lake Erie freezes solid, and will go instead to Ottawa on Leda Clay.

-Harold will continue to have his up and down cycles, and may give up blogging all together.

Morally Wrong to Generate Nuclear Waste?


I think the Star has gone a bit too loony-leftie. This is just another article about those 'Big Tub Nuclear Generators'. I'm not a fan of them, but they could work. Nevertheless, they poop out a lot of nuclear waste, and that's a problem in a world that doesn't want to deal with the issue.

Thus, we have a situation where the very people who actively oppose a rational approach to nuclear waste, now will invoke 'morality' to oppose all nuclear power. Is there a problem here?

Anyway, I think these bathtubs are a stupid idea, and it has nothing to do with morality.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Crazy Old Geologist in Nigeria


I loved this article! This guy is me! ...except he's actually invented something useful. But, the main point is that he is totally shunned by the System, but has good contacts on the outside.

Such a waste of intellectual power. Like me, when I was inside, he has to justify his life by things he did on the outside, even though he had no impact on the inside.

His invention is only good for the laterite (clay) of Nigeria, which is too bad. It turns the clay into something like sand, or concrete. They should have expanded the research into making decent bricks and paving stones.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Self-Medicating with Booze


This article just reminds me of me, the way I used to be. Don't do it! I know lots of people who 'relax' with booze, and use it to sleep. It doesn't work kiddies!

If you find yourself taking some hard liquor drinks in the evening to relax and go to sleep, take this as a warning. You've got to act soon before it goes too far. See your doctor, get some temporary Prozac, cut off the booze, and make an appointment with a chemical-psychiatrist (one who is good at dispensing, none of this talking crap!). It's important to go the next step and experiment to find your optimum dose. Also, half this stuff doesn't work for half the people, you've got to try different stuff. If you go too far down addiction, booze, drugs, nicotine, etc, you are doomed, and you don't care! Ideally, you have to drop nicotine, and alcohol. I take very small amounts of red wine, just to cheer me up. In the summer, when my chemicals are high, I can take a whole beer!

You Got Check!

Got my Google cheque today! It's $122 Canadian dollars, which means it pays in US dollars! It's going into my fine wine fund! When we get more into our Uganda Initiative, I'll hype up the charity aspect, even though I don't think it will result in more clicks.

Speaking of this Uganda thing, it's going to be a real bitch! MS may have a strangle-hold through the US-things-pushing USAID. My expectations are lowered to merely having my son do sales pitches when he goes to Uganda. This will develop his strengths. It's not problem for us to get one or two XO's for the sales pitch.

There are some great blogs about the OLPC Nepal effort. The main difficulty is fitting in with the local concept of education. Some countries (like Nepal) follow the 'Rote-Robot' method, which wants to push out non-creative mindless tiny adults. I think they regard the OLPC as a threat, and some people are working on introducing creativity. I don't think this is the case in Uganda.

Living Under a Sword


But the state never formally adopted those (landslide) maps after some city and county officials complained that the maps represented a regulatory headache that labeled too much area as hazardous and might restrict development.

This is a great article on the social aspects of landslides. Here, they have landslides that kill people all the time, they mapped these zones, and the city didn't want to restrict development!

So, the last landslide hit a house that was under construction. One comment was interesting, that even if you did everything right, you still had the chance that your sloppy neighbour would slide into you!

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Good Season

I had a good Christmas, with lots of toys, and visits. The trouble is that I'm too content right now, and have absolutely no finger juice. I suppose you have to be agitated to write things, and I'm sure I'll go into the proper cycle soon. I'm reading too much on my new reading machine, which numbs the mind.

So Hurray for the Happy Season of Hope. I'm sure there will be lots of things down the road to crush our spirits. :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Russians Build French Nuclear Plant


I just thought this was funny. The French just like to strike, so they have to import Russian construction workers.