Thursday, April 30, 2009

Seismic Assessment for Ottawa


This is nice. Ottawa and Montreal are way up on the list. Since I went nuts writing recently, readership is way up, clicks are at nothing, and I'm in a neutral mood, so my writing is now blocked.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Iron Man


So, add a dash of iron to the nuclear waste and it's sealed forever. I never thought of that, but the iron rusting takes out all the free oxygen, and puts out hydrogen, which clogs all the pores. However, none of the 'recipes' for Canadian high-level waste had good old rusty iron. That stuff is reserved for Obama Barrels on rivers, where iron is not so good.

As I've said before, the only good geological repository is one that is stable, and only has diffusion to worry about. Put in some iron, and you're good for another 10.000 years. The practical end of 'worry' is at the natural uranium ore level (or coal ash!), not every last Plutonium atom at a few million years. If the politics can be left out, then this is a simple problem.

But, we're not going to have this nice solution! Oh, no, we're going to have something horrible, on top of the biggest fault in North America, in fractured rock with fluid flow. Sure, you can say the fluid down there is 10,000 years old, but start pumping for an excavation! I shudder to think...

Fox and the Hound

This is a good story. The past week or so, Cindy the Wonder Dog and I have been walking in our Queenston Shale Valley. This is a beautiful slice of Nature in the middle of the city, precisely due to a change in the characteristics of the shale, from large-slab limestone interbeds, to pure shale. In the pure shale sequences it cuts down fast, and in the slab sequences it becomes flat.

So, every day we saunter along, Cindy snuffling along and running up and down the valley sides. She has the world's worst dog-nose, and only see things when they are moving. So every day she has zoomed right by this vixen without seeing it. And the darn fox comes down from the hill and starts fox-barking at her! I don't know if you ever heard a fox bark, but it sounds like somebody strangling a raven! Then Cindy trundles along after it, and the fox goes through a narrow fence. Ha, ha, fun fox games! Or so I thought.

Today Cindy caught her in the den, and she was not happy. Luckily, it's a big pile of sticks, and Cindy is above that sort of thing. So we pretend to leave, and she pops out for the photo. I had hoped to get a video of the bark and games, but that will have to wait. I guess she was just leading Cindy away from the den.

Return of a Blackberry

The other day I was walking home, after dumping the old van at the mechanic (full brakes - ouch!). In the middle of the road was a Blackberry, just about to be crunched by an SUV! I quickly snatched it up. I was not looking forward to calling all the numbers on the phone, in order to return it. Luckily, at our corner, there was our friendly crossing guard, and she offered to get it returned. She was already talking on it by the time I left.

Turns out it was a local neighbour, who was freaking out! Her 10 year old daughter took it out to play! All was well, when I thought of my Blackberry days, when I was worth something. I was forced to have a security code on it, so a stranger would be just faced with a blank screen, to enter the code. There is no way that phone could ever be returned! And who is going to put a label on it in this day and age? So primitive!

So, another suggestion to Mr. Blackberry, who has completely ignored my suggestion for One Blackberry Per Child. Have a security screen where you can put a 'Return Number', and allow a phone call to that number. This is soooo neat!

Spelling Error Costs 100 Grand


One of my hobbies is following large, political IT projects. I'm beginning to form a central thesis that we can't do anything right any more, especially if it involves large projects that are politically designed. Here, we have a card where they spelled Minitoba wrong! And only noticed it after a huge number were printed. I wonder what else is screwed up?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu to be Renamed Yucca Flu


Never mind the totally disgusting swine farms with lakes of manure and a ba-zillion flies. This name is hurting the pork business, dammit! And it would be awfully insulting to call it the Mexico flu, since why kick them when their down? We can't call it avian or bird flu, since that would hurt the turkey business.

This is just the same schmuck you get when trying to name an earthquake. Sure, everybody calls it the Kobe earthquake, but they try to get it changed to some unpronounceable name, since it would hurt the tourist business.

So I have come up with the idea of calling it Yucca Flu! You can't do any damage with that name! It's so far down it can't be kicked any more. And it's sort of in the geographical centre of North America, or some sort of thing, maybe.

Too Cheap for Nuclear Plants


Oh, now everybody is whining about the costs! What do you expect? These things are expensive, what with all the kickbacks, perks, envelopes, job creation, and what-not.

In the boom days, we would just say "What's another umpteen billion? It's all on the credit card!". Now, people are getting cold feet.

In old days, when we knew how to build them, a nuclear plant was just the ticket for a recession. You could even plaster on promises of 'light rail' and 'electric trains'. What the hell! Now, nobody's got the guts.

So, here's something else for 'Constructive Panic': NUCLEAR PLANTS WILL BANKRUPT US ALL!

Can you imagine McSquinty going against this tide? Looks like our nuclear plans are dead in the water.

Panic as a Recreational Sport

I was wondering the other day about the consequences of having no faith in government institutions. What if they were all run by toadies, like the atomic circus, or the old company? Now I know.

There has been a total takeover by toadies, and not one credible spokesperson remains. When we had the SARS crisis, we had the icy stare of the late Sheela Basrur. Now, we had nobody for the Listeria crisis, and we have nobody for swine flu.

If the concept of the atomic regulator arriving at a nuclear crisis gives you the impression of a dumping clown car, what are we to do?

PANIC! That's our only choice. Make it a really good 'full-release' panic. Run up and down the street, with your arms waving, and yelling at the top of your voice. SWINE FLU WILL KILL US ALL! THE NUCLEAR PLANT IS GOING TO BLOW! IT'S A GREAT DEPRESSION!

Shut down the economy! Flee Pickering! Buy Gold! If we have enough really good panics, then maybe something will happen in Political Paradise. Or maybe not...

What's Happening with Niagara Tunnel?


My favourite site has not had an update for 2 weeks! This is the exciting time when they finally break into the Whirlpool Sandstone, and attempt to advance with half the cutter in the hard stuff, and half in the Queenston Shale. I'd never do it, but they are desperate!

Look at this picture of their daily routine before this wonderful thing will happen.

All that broken rock is resting on the shield. They have to stop moving for this work.

But the real reason that I write this is that I fear for the web site. This is not politically approved and has been a constant thorn in the paws of complicity. Maybe they've silenced it? In that case I accuse them of cover-up! There is no greater crime in political space! They can be incompetent boobs, with this politically-designed project taking 3 times as long, and 3 times as expensive. That's just water off their oily backs!

But accuse them of cover-up, and they scramble like chickens. The denials spray out like the manure at an American-run Mexican pig farm! Nothing gets them more upset. And the concept is easily grasped by opposition politicians!

But when political people clam up, I never give them a break. I just go into my own fantasy land, since they're giving me nothing. This time, I shall assume that things did not go well as they entered the Whirlpool. The machine is skidding along the bottom, and cannot penetrate. Under the high stresses, the bottom of the sandstone is bursting into the tunnel.

Now, spread that around kiddies, and see the birdies shake out from the trees!

Chicxulub Asteroid Loses its 15 Minutes of Fame


Poor Mexico! First swine flu, then an earthquake, and now they aren't responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs! These big, stupid, flightless birds did not die off with this asteroid hit. In fact, it had no impact! (ha, ha!).

The dinosaurs were just a big evolutionary dead end, brought about by the massive warming caused by the continents all being squished together. When they separated, these birds were doomed. It might have been the Deccan Traps that finished them off, but had they been happy, they would have repopulated. As it was, the smarter animals rose up. So, even if you suddenly hatched a magic dinosaur egg today, the mosquitoes would kill it!

Middle Son Off to Africa

Got him off safely, and he is supposed to keep up his blog, with the tiny, old Linux netbook. I just wanted to mention that he is taking a 13 hour non-stop flight to Dubai, on a 777-300, on Emirates. I just find the concept staggering. We dropped him off at security, and then the flight staff came in. OMG, the women! I got slapped on the head for letting my jaw drop! I wonder if the plane was full, since who wants to be on a plane with all that swine flu floating about. Still, it looked interesting....

Monday, April 27, 2009

Give the Money Back


A futile gesture to introduce the 'fish or cut bait' bill in the US. Since they are closing Yucca Mountain, these people want the government to give the $30 billion dollar fund back to the people so they can shield themselves from all the loose radioactive thingies.

End of Water Polo Season

It's the end of the season for us. The daughter is the last kid to go through the club system, but she intends to pick it up in university. That's a lot of years!

Ontario Nuclear Decision Most LIkely Delayed Again

I've heard a rumour from the very top that they have had all their dreams of political perfection shattered. Their is no credit for a nuclear plant, and the demand has dropped like a stone.

Of course, they can deny up to the very day that they will delay, and on that day, they can postpone for a year. What are the consequences?

This will remove some fun for me, but there are other fields to plough.

The 'Dirty' Secret of Roomba

My fairly new Roomba 570 stopped roomba-fying the other day. Their automated technical help was useless. Thank god for the internet!

What they refuse to acknowledge is that you have to be an ubergeek to own one of these, or be prepared to send it out every 9 months. Following the 'underground' instructions, I took it apart and cleaned out the gearbox for the brushes. It was totally packed with dog hair and dust! I don't think most people would want to do this.

My son lives in a university house full of engineers. Their new Roomba had a corroding plate, and they modified it to be better! Since that house is a filthy pig nest, they'll soon be tearing it down as well.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lined Tunnel for Water Pipe


This is an interesting concept for a water tunnel in earthquake country. They will use a full-shield TBM, and put in a lined tunnel. Then they will lay in and weld the steel pipe. Finally, they will fill the annulus with grout. Should be quite resistant to earthquakes.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Neem Oil Will Save Us

With a shock I have discovered that Ontario has banned absolutely every pesticide for the garden, including pyrethrins. I have some fruit trees, so I either have to chop them down, or see if organic methods can help. The organic methods are good for large areas on farms, but usually don't have enough of a wallop to protect a tree if next door is infested.

Thus, I'll spray stinky Neem oil on everything all the time. The neighbours will love me, but they have fruit trees as well! Soon everybody will be spraying Neem oil! Sounds like a party.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another old seismologist grouses about earthquakes


I like this guy. He looks somewhat familiar. At least I had the advantage of installing a superb seismic monitoring system while I was at the peak of my powers. He doesn't have anything.

I hope he gets something, but it really takes a million dollars to figure anything out in any given area. That's why he won't get enough, and most areas in the rest of the world will always remain blank on the map of knowledge. Too bad.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Big Hunk of Rock Ready to Let Go


For some reason my writing muse is working again, even though nobody clicks ads any more. Still, I found this interesting, the concept of a giant landslide ready to go sploosh into the ocean and cause a local tsunami.

My Life as an Idiot-Savant


I enjoyed this article when I read it in my weekly copy of The Economist. I guess the proper term is just 'savant', although I feel like an idiot sometimes.

I'm not really a savant now, although I've been through phases. My early years involved intense programming, and reading, to the exclusion of most other things. Finally, getting married and all that crap clouded up my brain with trivialities, such as earning a living!

It's interesting how you can get back some of those abilities by temporarily stunning parts of the brain. This probably clears your mind for some genius insight. But I don't need insight anymore... I'm retired!

Makes me think how places like the old company are so hostile to savants and intellectual depressives. When politics flows through the halls, these people have no hope. A good company would protect these people.

BSSA April 2009

I got my nice thick BSSA, which is the bulletin for the seismological society of america. It is the one journal I subscribe to. This time there wasn't anything that really interested me, but I shall give a tour of the pretty pictures.

Pretty Lake Tahoe
A lot of work going on here.

Very pretty boomer scans, which give a cross-section of the sediments.

Here they all are in a fence diagram.

Italian Earthquake Was Predicted!

Not really, but somebody was doing some work, showing this to be a real hot zone. Surprisingly, the area south of the recent earthquake was hotter. They did this all in PGA, which I think is blah.

These are the historic earthquakes.

And this is a hazard map,

Jiggly Taiwan

Here is some modeling of a soft, rounded mound that jiggles in earthquakes.
A bit too baywatchian for me.

And here's the point of maximum shaking.

Touring With a Netbook

I've been getting the old Asus Eeepc 701 ready for my son going to Uganda. I've put the tailored Linux distribution eeebuntu on it, and it works great. With Firefox and Openoffice, it's all ready for writing. But the big problem is handling photos while on the run. Traditionally, they just leave all the raw photos on the chip, and let Dad clean them up in a few hours of horribly tedious work.

But I've moved beyond that, since I am inherently lazy, and love to avoid work. I've tested out the whole arrangement on the netbook. Basically, I have an older camera that uses sd cards. I bought a nifty usb card reader for the chip, and I also bought a larger 16 gb chip, which cannot go in the old camera directly.

Now, I've installed the Gimp (a Linux image processor) on the netbook, and it works great. So, when taking pictures, you transfer them to the pc, and process them with gimp. You toss out the losers, and scale down images for the blog to around 600 pixels. Then you put in the 16 gb chip, and store the processed images. You write your blog on openoffice.

At the local McDonalds serving Antelope-burgers, you upload your blog with pictures.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

CNSC - Who Needs Credibility?


Yet another opinion piece on the Keen court ruling, and the 'new, government-responsive' CNSC. I was just thinking philosophically, about whether it makes any difference to anybody, in the short term, if they are credible or not.

Lord knows the utilities don't pay any attention to them. The Bruce rides roughshod over them all the time. What if Canadians thought they were a joke, and their hearings a dog&pony show? Would we worry? Would it depress the economy?

I think the only effect would be that we have a big economic disaster when the earthquake hits. But we're going to have that anyway! So, goodbye CNSC, we don't need you!

Ontario Oozing Electricity


With all the industry shutting down, we now pay people to use electricity at night. This could give rise to some interesting uses, if we could figure it out. Combined with a smart grid, that would mean our plug-in cars would be really cheap.

But having free electricity doesn't save you much. At the cottage I use very little electricity, yet the bills are substantial. That's because the line maintenance is a huge cost, so I pay just to have it available.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nirvana of Fusion


I always follow this stuff, like cold fusion. Promises like this have the effect of diverting attention from pressing problems. I wish them luck, but from an engineering point of view, this has its problems.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

LCBO Now Compulsory PIN Entry

Ha, ha. Here was a big surprise for the other half, stranded at the cash register with a load of booze. After a year of ignoring that new little chip in the card, and never using (and forgetting the PIN). So, all of a sudden they get tough! A word to the wise....

Retired Geo-person Speaks Out


You gotta love those retired geo-people! He spoke out on something that was changed politically. Nothing in writing, just dire threats that can never be traced. That's what I painfully remember, and it still goes on, but no new people have retired yet. At least nobody crazy enough to speak out!

Earthquake Predictor Craps Out


Ah, the perils of being an earthquake predictor. This fine fellow may soon be sued for keeping people awake all night.

Asus Eeepc with Eeebuntu

Middle son has an eeepc 701 that he generally gave up on because of the keyboard, which is too small, and he's a giant! But these things are fantastic for traveling! They used it all the time in France to book things. Now, he's going to take it to Uganda.

I've had such a bitchy time trying to spruce it up with a new operating system. Lots of failures. Just now I found eeebuntu, and it works great. The machine has lots of quirks, and this handles them all. Still, it's nasty to install a new operating system. I finally bought a usb cd machine to do it. You can supposedly format a bootable usb stick, but I never could get one working.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Review Garmin Nuvi 260

Ok, Costco had a coupon for $100 off, and I went for it. I need a steady drip-feed of toys to keep my spirits up! This is the absolute minimum of the dedicated gps units, the next thing is just having it in your phone, but this can be shared in the family, with all the cars, since it never really needs to be mounted.

You need to have an xp machine hanging around, since they are nasty about Linux, which is odd, since these things run on Linux. Nevertheless, they have their DRM maps to protect, and Windows is dedicated to this. When you register, you get to download a huge 2 gb maps update, but you never get to see on the unit whether it actually worked!

This is just a car unit, I use my gpsmap 60cx for the bush, since you can get neat maps from the Swedish boys. Still, this thing works great for it's purpose. It has a nice touch screen, and all the local hotspots. Just put in a destination, and the 'voice' tells you everything. You can choose voices. I just put in in the car coffee holder, and listen. The map is generally useless when driving (interfere's with the cell texting! :). It's very fast on recalculating when you want to go a different route.

Garmin is still trying to sell map updates for more than this unit is worth. I can't see that happening for much longer. By next year I see these units as disposable. Never buy a new car with a gps unit! You'll be killed by the map updates, and the fact that the unit is obsolete in a year or two.

It's route algorithm goes funny in one spot near my house. It can't stand a certain road, which I like to use. As soon as I go on it, it does anything to get off, even going wacky at one spot (probably the peak of uncertainty). I love pushing these things to the limit!

Anyway, I got it for the kids who wouldn't know the name of a road if the sign hit them!

Kicking the Hornets' Nest


This is a new tack in the fine art of 'stirring up the shit'. I think the use of extreme value theory, is a bit .... extreme. I think with this thinking, next year is always the highest chance, since if the earthquake doesn't happen, it adjusts the parameters. Of course, then there's the year after that....

Magnitude 5's or 6's aren't going to do diddly squat to most structures, unless they are absolutely terrible, and on a sand pit. Maybe they are that bad? I somehow have the impression there are no swamps in Australia, all dusty outback. Wonder where the crocs live? :)

Still a good 6 under Hamilton is going to do a number on us, and I think our odds are a lot greater than down under.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Artistic Nuclear Waste


Nice concept.

US Improves Seismic Monitoring


I don't really feel like commenting. I'd just go on about photo-op pork, and the pitiful state of US seismic monitoring, blah, blah.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WIPP for Waste


A nice article on WIPP. I don't think that creepy salt would be good for the hot waste. Right now they are just putting in contaminated items.

Turbines of Death


Ok, some people don't realize that I have my fun with wind turbines. Sure they kill the bats, and keep the birdies away from eating the locusts, but fun is fun.

I started this a long time ago because of the concept of replacing one nuclear station with wind turbines. Suddenly I saw wind turbines plastered across the whole province! What a nightmare! And we know that they don't do squat for carbon reduction, because we'll need coal or gas for peaking, and windless hot summers.

But what I really saw in this article was the standard tobacco company statement of 'no peer-reviewed results'. Has anybody started on this? Do they get any money from governments in love with wind power? Has somebody done a study with negative results? Is the wind lobby fighting tooth and nail to never allow such studies?

These things are obviously pumping out infra-sonics, and people are sensitive to that. There's a lot of science missing here, and fatuous remarks don't help much.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Greater Inefficiency Means More Jobs


I do get a bit huffy when the politicians go on the air demanding more jobs from nuclear plants and such. Actually, it's not very green to create a job where none is needed, lots of carbon for transport, space, etc.

Now, all the politicians demand a passport office in their fair cities. That is one great job creator! And carbon spitter! I'm glad that they are working so hard to make the process even more inefficient, they'll get to absorb all the auto-workers. So next time you are in the big sweaty room, waiting for your number, only to find that something is wrong, remember the jobs!

Toronto Housing Prices Holding Firm

Ok, I've been getting some ad money (controversy!), and this just happened down the road, so I have to blab!

House down at the corner was selling to allow relatives to cash out, since the old people had died. Not a great location at a busy intersection. They went through 2 real estate agents already, and this third one put on a big splash with signs everywhere and lots of open houses. The sellers set a boom price of 650K and were holding firm. The only buyers were hard-nosed 'buy to rent' people, and they offered 500K. The prices held firm!

Now, the agent has fled, and all that is left are the wind-blown hinges of the last 'For Sale' sign, and a few tattered 'Open House' signs.

So, that's what I have to say to all those rosy real estate news stories, that the prices are holding up.

Fires at Nuclear Plant


Are they falling apart? Sinking under the weight of their own stupidity? Who knows? These fires seem to be a bit much, though, especially since they are trying to wave their magic wand and restart the units. What was really damaged? How did they fix it? I think this is a fine example of closed-mouthed bloody-minded opacity gone amuck.

Land Vibroseis Survey


Ah, this brings back fond memories! This is a neat little video on vibroseis for natural gas exploration. We did it for earthquakes around the Toronto region, and all of it has been forgotten. You'll notice the vibrating plates directly on that crummy road? When we did one stretch of road, the road-bed settled under each plate, and left a distinct wobble when you drove over it. We had to resurface the road, and I suspect there will be some road damage here.

Fizzy Pop to Cause Earthquakes


Lots of controversy lately on earthquake prediction. Also on the subject whether little things can cause big earthquakes. I still don't think these scientists are having any original thoughts, but perhaps one day.

It would be so neat if the injection of corrosive acid water (CO2) would instantly cause an earthquake, like a big belch!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Niagara Tunnel Speeding Up


Yeah! The fever has broken! The tunnel boring machine is starting to chug at 6 m/day and only 3 m overbreak. I don't know what the 'Grout Tunnel' is, but that's starting as well.

Perhaps it won't get stuck now, as it runs for the surface. We just need everybody to be a bit more truthful on what all this overbreak means.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt

My kids are clustered around 20 years in age, and still they want an Easter Egg hunt. I get so grouchy about that! We always have as the prize the large Kinder egg surprise chocolate eggs with the toy inside. For each "little" kid I write a series of clues, trying to get very obscure for these big monsters with the heart of a 2 year old. Each piece of paper leads to the next clue, and finally the egg!

There are only so many dang places to hide these clues, and I've done them over and over again. You'd think they would have figured it out by now! I write "Ancient source of aquatic protein", and it still takes them forever to figure out the fish tank, which is one of the ten spots I've ever hid anything in.

After, they get to assemble the toys. Right now, they are zooming them across the kitchen floor! Oh, god!

Sweet Home Alabama


Sorry, this is a very good article about earthquake risk in Alabama, and all I can think of is the stupid movie! This is an area of moderate seismic hazard, but really rotten foundation conditions, like the GTA! At least they are doing something because they had earthquakes in living memory. Here in Toronto, they never do anything.

Tiny Italian Village Does OK


So, you throw in some steel, and you can keep these rubble houses up. Being a mountain village, they might have had the luck of a rock foundation, which would help. Should have worked on that tower, though.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tiny Town to Probe Italian Corruption


And they thought the earthquake hit them! No comment on this.

Keen Goes Down in Flames


Poor Ms. Keen can't catch a break. Her court case has exploded. Live by the sleaze, die by the sleaze. Toadies only live on the whim of the government.

I like the gov't quote: "She was given all the fairness she was entitled to." Which is none!

Well, the current guy only has to look over his shoulder when the Liberals win again.

Picking on High-Rises


I love the main author. He's done some great work, but this time he ventures into physics. The main contention is that next big Cascadia earthquake will be a high-rise breaker, mainly due to low frequencies.

I believe this author was the first to mention, what I consider a real high-rise breaker, and that's the high-velocity 'fling' pulse. These are known to crack the tall buildings. But now he is saying that a 4 minute low-frequency sinusoid can destroy high-rises.

This implies damage with a very low peak ground velocity (PGV). You'll notice in the figure that this earthquake is way the heck in the middle of nowhere town. Plus, it is a diving thrust, which can never produce any velocity. But a long rupture likes to put out the long ground motions. We can't forget that there will be one heck of a tsunami!

In order to simulate damage, he has to place an imaginary high-rise on an imaginary shake table. This allows the building to accumulate energy over 4 minutes, and with perfect resonance, the building will explode. But this is not reality, since high-rises have to be located on firm rock, or they tip over. Thus, there is radiative damping that nobody thinks about, so the building is not a perfect resonator. As long as you are on rock, there will not be any damage.

Medium-rise concrete buildings, on raft foundations, on a giant swamp are at risk. This is what happened in Mexico City.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Joy of a New Convection Oven

As you know, I'm retired, but I live off my wife. Now, she's way too busy earning the money in the dog-eat-dog software business, so I get to think how to spend it! This week, we replaced our 20 year old built-in oven with a new one. The old oven didn't work anymore, except as a crematorium for baked goods. The temperature fluctuated up and down like the stock market! I'm the house-husband, and I couldn't stand it any more.

So, being who I am, I couldn't just have any oven. I had to have a toy! So I got the super-fancy GE convection oven with a touch computer screen! No woman would ever buy this!

So, with the boy's help, we ripped out the old oven. It's still on the street. I hope the old scrap guy shows up soon, or I'm going to have to go through some effort! The new oven is a dream! I've made a perfect roast, cookies, and hot-cross buns, using it's 'proof' mode! I'm cooking up a storm!

Whew! Had to get that out of my system. Happy Easter everybody, and I've got a turkey, ham, and monster prime rib to deal with....

Happy Easter Weekend

I shall assume that absolutely nothing happens this weekend. No announcing more stupid things about nuclear, no stuck tunneling machines, no earthquakes in 'cover with wallpaper' country (please!).

I was recently asked to outline a computer architecture for data record retrievals. My inspiration was the chocolate easter egg! Naturally, when the idea got to humourless people, we had to drop all egg references. All the political dummies are humourless! I'm glad I'm retired. Anyway, there were enough humourless people to pick up the idea from me, and go with it. I'm such a saint!

More Hydro Hummin' Blues

This is the ideal connection to a house, with a slack line. That way, there is no chance of wind and transformer vibrations penetrating into the house. However, in older parts of town, there are old direct connections to the external wall. If the line is tight, you get all the hum right into the house. I'm getting some mail that the power companies won't touch this with their ten-foot pole. Yeah, why should they bother? The only solution is to whip up a political storm, or move out of the house. I would hope some technical college could take this issue up, and make enough measurements to shame the power companies.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Useless Wind Power


I'm not saying anything, since I have many loyal readers who make their money off wind farms. More power to them! Suck that sweet, sweet pie of subsidies! They rest of us can join the party through water tunnels that don't work, and nuclear plants deliberately made inefficient so as to create more jobs. We can be a whole nation of subsidy-seekers!

Black Ops Hit Electrical System


And for today's bit of fun, since I got a few pennies today, I present our spy-riddled infrastructure. I have always contended that the last big NA blackout was caused by the presence of an MS worm. All the reports point to the nasty tree, but do say the computer systems failed to respond properly. Oh come on! If the computers were working, people would have figured it out quicker, and the tree would have been left to burn in peace.

Thus, all the supervisory computers for the electrical grid, and for the nuclear stations, all use crap MS. The actual working machines are all something from the 1970's, and probably nobody knows how to write viruses for DEC PDP-11's. But the main IT infrastructure for these companies is run by brain-dead MS zombies. I know, I ran into them all the time. Against the Chinese hackers, they don't have a chance!

My whole working life was fighting these yahoos. For a while, in nuclear development, we were the king of the hill, and had special needs beyond their imagination. I put in a big Sun system with all the internet goodies, including an NTP clock, they never heard of. When the big intellectual purge came, this was shut down, and all the bright guys left. We were all left doing analysis on systems for janitors. The supply guys had big parties with Compaq!

Attack on the Sunshine People


The Ontario 'Sunshine' list came out, and I've been scanning for negative press. It's almost knee-jerk, following the line of 'Tear these people down!'. But it's not really a tremendous outcry.

I remember we had a competent nuclear vice-president from the States. He was the only one that I would trust to build a new nuclear plant. But his salary was about a million bucks, and the list caused a huge outcry. The hounds were released! He eventually went back to the States for twice the salary.

Now, all they got are the internal 'fearful climbers'. I only give them a 'C' on their report cards. Can they build a nuclear plant? Do they hope to overcome their mediocrity by contracting everything out, a la Niagara? Time will tell.

Christina Blizzard - Ontario Nuclear


She always puts out a fine article on these topics. I just can't wait for more political restrictions to be tacked on!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Politics Added to New Nuclear


That's right, just keep piling on the political conditions! It is sure to produce a working nuclear reactor, just like buying working helicopters.

People who read my blog (and don't pay!) know how these things balloon into Niagara Tunnels.

Wallpaper Paste and Coat Hangers


That's what these buildings are made of. I didn't want to say so myself, since the guys that siphon off the materials are nasty buggers. Unfortunately, they run the place. Earthquakes are the only thing that reveal this, but now they can safely rebuild in the same old manner, and wait for the next one! At any one place along the spine of Italy, an earthquake only shows up every few hundred years.

Dreaming About Nuclear Waste


Yeah! Here's somebody's hope of making all those nuclear waste blue ribbons do something rational. And you can herd cats! But I think it's nice to dream, and this fellow has done it as well as anybody.

Bottom line: There is no hope of rationality here. But, they'll have a good party.

Nevada Geophysics


I'm doing this in honour of a geologist who is stuck in Nevada, when nobody gives a hoot about minerals anymore. This press release attempts to generate some interest in Nevada copper. Actually, those large copper mines are ten times worse than any nuclear waste site!

The geophysics is interesting. They are detecting electrical currents in the ground caused by distant lightning strikes. This is also big for diamond exploration. In our northern Polaris seismic sites, we have also put in permanent MT stations which can support this type of air survey.

Canadian Diamonds


An interesting story showing a bright spot on the gloomy geology scene. Probably there are many more mines to discover under the tundra.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Italian Geology Video


Nice video on the geology of Italy. Basically, the spine of Italy was once a giant pressure ridge, caused by compression. Then the stress reversed, and the spine was pulled. This causes the mountain range to be unstable, and it is collapsing on itself.

There is also an aerial view of the damage. It's difficult to get a sense of the percentage of building stock damaged, but I assume it's high.

New Blog by Son

It is really tough to get the kids off the facebook and the video games, and produce an interesting blog. Middle son has a unique opportunity since he is going to Uganda for a month. He just finished up his arm full of shots!

His blog.

Earthquake Forecast People Come Out


Greece and Italy seem especially rich with the forecast crowd. I think that's probably because there are so many forecasts, that one of them will be right for any given earthquake. I remember we used to track forecasts in the old earthquakes Usenet group, but it became too difficult.

Italian Earthquake Damage


Sadly, there is probably nothing to learn from this earthquake. At M6.3 it is quite big for a central Italy earthquake. This report reviews an earlier earthquake that was only an M4.9. You can learn a little bit more from partial damage, than from total destruction.

I've seen all the movies about beautiful, quaint villages in Italy, and Greece. Sadly, they are all seismic death traps. So, if you really wanted to live there, what would you do? How could you build something that fit in, but would remain standing when the earthquake came?

How could you avoid the total corruption and inferior materials? The tremendous thickness of red tape? You'd probably want to go all steel, with a veneer of stucco to look quaint. I don't know how to make the roof fit in, and still have it work. The standard roof is horrendously heavy, and wants to fall in, if you look at it! I'd also put it on screw piles, since this terrain is a result of normal faulting, and is loose like a pile of marbles.

First-Year Students Are Scum


I think this is a universal statement, handed down by Socrates. Anyway, this is the latest.

Large Earthquake Hits Italy


A large earthquake has struck central Italy. These earthquakes are always devastating because they are shallow, and the building stock is so terrible. Seems that the local hospital is almost knocked out. In the past, earthquakes of this type have wiped out whole villages, which are generally built from loose stone. Watch the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" to see this type of construction.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Family Time

We went to the funeral of a family matriarch on the weekend. She was 97 when she died suddenly, having been totally healthy and mobile before that. I mean, when it's time to go, it's time to go! She was part of a huge family, and had a huge family descended from her. The side I married was from one of her many sisters, but they had close ties because they were part of a huge mob of cousins that hung around together, mainly through the efforts of this one woman.

The descendants from the other sisters were as boring as milk toast, but her line was worthy of one of those super-thick novels from Danielle Steele, or some such author. They had absolutely everything! Our side of the family had a magnificent time catching up with everybody at the reception, then we spent hours over drinks trying to make sense of it all.

It gives true meaning to the word 'family'. A rich and colourful tapestry of family history adds depth to your life. I'm glad to stand aside and be part of it in a distant sort of way. I just pray that none of my future family history starts to resemble this, or it would kill me!

Seismic Dams


Here's an article on some geotechnical work they are doing at a dam. Basically they are seeing if the sands below the dam are loose enough for liquefaction. If the sands liquefy during an earthquake, the whole dam could slide, allowing the water to overtop, and fail the dam.

I remember investigating a dam with a similar concern, although this time it was on Leda Clay. The dam was part of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The central part of the dam went right over a band of this clay, which is known to fail suddenly, or turn into a liquid during an earthquake. We came to a conclusion that the dam was so remote, that even if it failed, it wasn't going to do much, and such a giant earthquake would cause worse problems.

Friday, April 3, 2009

NB Gives Up Fooling with Dates


When I was with the big company, and we were building that big nuclear plant, we had a full scheduling department, who's only job was to revise the schedule onward. They were always hopelessly behind schedule themselves, so that the whole thing was one big mess.

Big Sask. Report on Nuclear


No mention of nuclear waste. I mean, they are shipping out all this uranium, in a big competition with Kazakhstan, the least they could do is take it back. They probably have some really good rock, right under a potash mine!

80's for Alberta?


Oh, I am sooo familiar with this! It actually started in 1976. I was a hot student in Engineering Science - Geophysics Option. Just two of us in that. In my third year, Chevron came calling. They really threw their money around, and sucked me in for a job, since I was totally impressed, and had no idea what I would do with my life. I had this system of never planning, but just striking off things I didn't like. That's how I had ended up in this option.

Chevron was unbelievably generous. All expenses paid to get there. I had the fanciest hotel for a couple of weeks, until I could find someplace. I met movie stars in the elevator! Finally, I got a room at the university.

After the first month, things started to crack. Companies all around us were doing 'explosive' firings. One day, the security guard comes, and you have to leave immediately. I couldn't stand Calgary, so I took a few days off to fetch my sister's old car, and then went to the mountains every weekend. All I did in Calgary was drink in copious amounts.

The guy who hired me disappeared. Nobody knew what to do with the students. I felt like things were falling down all around me. When I left, I swore I would never do this again, so I did my Masters in rock mechanics. After that summer, everybody started evacuating Calgary. The whole economy tanked.

Are we here again?

Ontario Sunshine List is Out -2009


I don't think I made it clear that the new list was out. If you want to see everybody in the old company, just click here. I can't imagine that there is anybody who doesn't clear this.

This list was a big shock for us when it first came out. For the first time we could see who was sucking the overtime, big time. Some cases, we knew, were rather bizarre. Now, the guard dogs earn more than this (and there aren't any!).

No-Win Situation for AECL


Here's a nice opinion piece that doesn't really say anything. For the past year, all these articles say everything depends on the Ontario decision. But this decision is totally opaque, and steeped in politics. They are also in a 'no-win' situation. If they go with AECL, they are buying a 'pig in a poke', with a half-designed reactor, somewhat inbred with the Maple design.

The other choices are just as unappetizing, politically speaking. Plus, we know that all political decisions are usually a technical disaster.

When I did a project, I would lay out the 'right way' to do it, and then sum the cost of all political distortions. If you got beyond one or two political expediences, then the probability of success went down to zero. This is usually when I would go nuts, and get in big trouble with the bosses. I see this whole new nuclear thing, as having swallowed too many distortions.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

'Life of Field' Oil Exploration Seismic


This is an interesting article. Traditionally, seismic surveys are done with long floating trailers of geophones. The reception is very noisy, so they have to compensate with really big booms from the air-guns. This, of course, makes the fishie people mad, even though it may not bother the fish and whales (or maybe it does!).

One summer, I had so much fun doing marine seismic. KABOOM! went the air-guns. We were once in Oshawa Harbour, and the fishies (salmon?) were jumping all over the place for some reason. KABOOM! We tested the air-guns, and not a fish was seen for quite some time, over the whole harbour! Neat!

Anyway, back to the story. These guys are pushing laying the geophones right on the bottom of the lake or ocean. Then you get better signal to noise. If you are developing a field, then install them permanently, since they tell you a lot about production. Of course, you might not be able to compromise with the fishie people....

Teacher's Pension Fund Hammered - To Gain Greater Power


I'm just throwing this in, because I'm sucking off a pension fund that's sucking up new nuclear money. I'll never say anything bad about the old company again! Cross my heart. I really mean it! Oh, yeah?

Science Robot Only Operating at the Level of a Graduate Student


Here I was going on about the hopeless education system, when I discover we don't need them anymore! They can go on doing their thing, wasting money, and technology has replaced them. "Only operating at the level of a graduate student." Man, that's a mouthful!

Bumper sticker.

Ontario -- we produce good auto workers.

Cell Phone Jamming and Education


Now that I got rid of the ad that nobody was clicking, I can let my juices flow again.

Today is education day for me. The kid is off all day because of the Ontario Grade 10 literacy test. Now, I think this is stupid, but in the general context of education, it is not the most stupid thing. Certainly, you don't want the little kiddies texting during this test: "how u spl graff?"

Now, one of my popular articles is about education. This latest story fits in with that, as well as my blackberry article. Obviously, the extreme to this, is to cut off all modern communication in the classroom, a throwback to the educational ideals of the Victorian era.

Now, I remember in my classes, when the teacher droned on and on in the front, we had several options. We could fall asleep, but that was dangerous, since some teachers were good with the throwing chalk! We could prop up the text book, and read another book behind (only for the smart ones!). We could write studious notes (naah!). Or we could doodle and daydream (my favourite!).

Now, we add electronics - texting and game playing. Does this not tell us something? Are the opaque education systems, and opaque unions doing something good? My opinion is that this shows the technical rot that is so endemic in our institutions. But the bright students survive, and maybe this makes no difference to our society.

Geology Required for Carbon Storage


Dry, encyclopedic tone: This article states that we must be careful about storing carbon dioxide as fizzy water. It tends to bubble out.

Old Geologist Makes Geology Popular


Well, this seems to be a guy who never retires. 45 years with the GSC! At least he's making good use of his geological talent, writing popular books. Not wasting his time with a penniless blog! I'm impressed that he is going to tackle all of Canada. I'm sure he's going to gloss over boring Ontario.

Ah, but this seems too much like work!

Extremely Old Nuclear Plant Continues


Wow! This is one very old nuclear plant! Older than me! The critics contend that the containment is shot, but I bet they are only stabbing in the air. All the legitimate information is probably closely held. Anyway, this is one amazing plant.

ps. you may notice that my writing tone is getting drier, now that I'm getting a zillion hits, and not a speck of money! The joy is leaking out of me...

Totally Opaque Seismic Safety


This will be interesting for all of us. I've been qvetching about the local Mel's being opaque, but here is the extreme version. They are now promising seismically safe schools, but I have no idea how they are going to do it. And I'm sure we'll never find out! Anyway, I wish them luck.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Humber River - Another Big Hunk Goes Splash

I'm getting a huge increase in readership, but they are all cheapies, and don't click ads. I, therefore, conclude they are all my political enemies in opaque organizations.

(this message for them)

How-ya doing? Just because you can suck out my brains for free, doesn't mean you can do anything!

Anyway, this is getting exciting! Geotechnical engineering in action! Stuff to thrill the kiddies and scare the old ladies! Yesterday, there was this big hunk that I knew was going to fail in a day. It was being undermined by flowing water, and big rocks were rolling down the hill. I wish I had caught it in action.

There was still water seeping from the gash, and this might be it for a while. The other parts seem dryer. Still, Cindy the wonder dog, and I, will keep liveblogging (yeah, right) on this issue. As I was leaving, it looked like a very young engineer from the Conservation people was going to look at it. Poor guy, people must be all over him. And nothing he can do.

Computer Games Improve Eyesight


I'm taking some time away from my fruitless blogging to fire up the PS3. I'm so hopeless at it that I'm continually stuck in the first 3 minutes! I wish they had better training! But this really does fire up the neurons, and I'm sure a little bit a day keeps the brain-gunking away.

Nuclear Wages to be Squeezed


People are losing their jobs, so the logic conclusion is that you shouldn't pay nuclear project leaders anything. If they reduce the 'sunshine' limit to zero (where inflation will eventually put it), then it completes the 'polical-ization' of all things nuclear. My last big hope for nuclear was that they'd be able to find a 'brain', who could cut through all the schmuck, and protect the technical people below him. This is not going to happen when the pay is limited to that of low-wage career civil servants. In fact, the only people they can find are the very same who pushed the Niagara Tunnel Disaster.

So, I'm happy here in the gutter, scraping by with the very few pennies thrown at me. I would not take that stress for the pittance they are forced to pay.

Yuckie Dead


I just liked this article for the comments. Like someone said, 5 electoral votes cost the economy a lot. I wonder if we could put a price tag on Reid. I'd say something like 50 billion, but that is nothing compared to the trillions going down the drain. At least McCain says they shouldn't continue the sham they have someplace to put the waste, and stop collecting the fees. And new nuclear plant proposals shouldn't trot out the DOE contract, as though they actually have someone to deal with the waste. They should just be honest and say that they have no place for the waste, except to pile it high in rusty Obama Barrels until Hell freezes over.

NB Nuclear Late


6 months late. Not bad. I always thought it was a good nuclear project if it was twice as expensive, and twice as long, but still worked. This place has one strike against it, in that they dropped the new rotors, and had to use the old crap. Thus, it isn't going to put out as much juice.

Small Earthquake in California - Nobody Cares


The only thing I picked up on this article was that it had to be on a known fault, and if it wasn't, it was on an unknown fault. Since it was small, and in a forest, they weren't looking.

California is riddled with known and unknown faults. There is almost a religious feeling that the next earthquake will be on a known fault. But faults are everywhere! Most likely, it isn't right on the San Andreas, but an 'offshoot'. They aren't allowed to build right beside a known fault, but must offset by x number of metres.

I wonder when they will give up on this, and 'fuzz up' the fault zones a bit. Your chance of damage is more related to your foundation, anyway. There is very little chance of the surface expression splitting your house apart.

(I'm just having some fun with those California guys, don't mind me!)

ps. My readership has suddenly gone way up, but ad clicks are in the toilet. I have mixed feelings.