Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nuclear Poker


Who will blink first? Since Ontario's first bid didn't work, they have thrown all the cards up in the air and demanded money! How much is enough?

I would love a 'rational' nuclear plant, but I've written enough, and done enough study to think we can never do it. We are heading for a Japan-style lost decade, where our trusted institutions fail us, and we were horribly dependent on them, just like Japan.

I blame the intrusion of modern technology on the ancient Victorian power structures. That enabled them to get rid of any 'boat rockers' and ensure total self-similarity. I will eventually see progress when these ancient institutions dissolve, much like GM. I would hope that a new intelligent force for nuclear eventually rises.

I don't think we can live without nuclear in the long term. We are not pricing electricity futures correctly, if we are short, and need it for electric cars, etc. I don't think we can have a high-tech economy if we can't do anything right.

So, as it now stands, new nuclear is horribly expensive because of institutional incompetence. The waste problem is mired in stupidity, so that adds to the cost. We are headed to a giant inverse cliff in the future, where our old plants fall apart because of poor operation (I should know!). When we hit this cliff, the price of electricity will go through the roof, and there is never a good wind in the summer!

But NORM! has graced my blog, so I'm happy and am off to go drinking at the brother-in-law's cottage! After the cottage season, we can sit back and watch the Toronto earthquake hit our nuclear plants (what fun!) :) And we can listen to the Bruce people on how they aren't going to use any grout for the deep geology disposal! And I almost forgot watching the concrete lining at Niagara crumble under the merciless forces of rock squeeze. :)

Asus Eee Box Dead - II

I've entered their system. The phone was hopeless, so I used the information on the endless phone recording to do it by email. I got a semi-automated (form letter) response to apply for an RMA code, but that's another day or two! Still to come is the Fedex shipment, and the fix. I hope they save the disk data!

Pt. Lepreau Not Happy


Well, I really can't say anything about this, without sounding nasty, and now that all nuclear has been swept off the table, I must do happy things.

Ontario was a Nuclear Cheapie


Well, more stuff comes out. They did choose AECL from the beginning, and all they wanted to do was drive down the price. The price was 'billions' more than they wanted to pay. What does that mean? The cost is 'billions', they wanted it for free? They added billions to the cost by picking that site.

As the article says, aecl is finished, and will have to be rendered for sale. GE would buy the candu servicing portion, since those reactors are always falling apart, and aecl has done such a good job in NB (not!).

Meanwhile, we still got the deep geology thingie at Bruce. That too, will collapse under its own ridiculous weight, and I'll be left with nothing..... :(

Monday, June 29, 2009

Smithers Gives Up


Ontario has officially given up on new nuclear. What will the old company do with that fancy 'New Nuclear' division? Now, they'll never give me money!

This is pretty well it. No new nuclear in Canada, ever. All the Bruce Nuclear plans down the toilet. What are they going to do, pick AECL? AECL is down the toilet. I shall fade into the background, earthquakes shall leave the collective consciousness, it's just back to me and the dog.

Candu and Positive Reactivity


Here is a fine example of what happens when self-similar organizations totally drop the ball. Used to be when the CNSC and OPG had credibility, they would just pooh-pooh this whole scandal, and people would believe them. I once asked "What are the consequences of packing your organization with toadies, and losing all pubic confidence?" As I said, the outcome is PANIC!

The problem here is what I always thought was a major safety hazard - the focus on the incredibly bizarre Humungous Guillotine Break in the Heavy Coolant Pipes. (LOCA) There is no physics to support this scenario, yet it dominates nuclear safety thinking. Once they accept this as true, then they are off on their own, unfettered by the laws of physics.

So this old worry is a rare wrinkle on something that is physically impossible. If you have this big break, then if another set of nearly-impossible things happen, like the control rods losing gravity, then the pressure tubes may mash together and heat up. Then the incredibly thick concrete containment and giant vacuum building will disintigrate. And, of course, it will happen to more than one reactor at the same time.

So, the consequences of focussing on this singular event is not greater safety at the nuclear plant, but a general overlooking of all the other zillion minor things that can go wrong, and do have a chance of happening in random clusters. For example, the central cooling pipes are massive, and totally seismic-proof, but there are many other minor issues I have railed about in the past. I'm not saying anything because currently I am entertaining the possibility that they might pay me something (just as possible as a LOCA!).

ps. the cottage was great, and we spent time fishing for the invidious rock bass. When I throw them on the dock, the dog grabs them and takes them up on land.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Brand New Asus Eee Box Dead

I don't believe it! The new cute eee box has completely died over the weekend. I looked it up on the internet and there are no stories of these things dying. That's why I'm putting it on the blog. Tomorrow, I'll phone the local Canadian reps. I hope they have a decent replacement system, since the US one looked horrible - send it in, wait, wait, and they'll see if it really is dead. Decent places send you a new one, and you put the old one in the box they sent, with pre-paid courier.

The worst warranties are those cameras, where you have to wait 30 days for them to look at it. My Fuji camera was like that.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bruce Nuclear has a Sense of Humour


"We're not trying to ram a nuclear power plant down people's throats -- they're really big and won't fit."

OMG! This is going to make it so much more fun for my buddies fighting the Nanticoke Blob. But really, these guys have to be hilarious, to do what they are doing.

Geothermal Jigglies


For most geothermal energy, you live on the caprice of natural water flow systems. You don't get much out of it. But, if you can tap into the hotter, drier rock, you can really get out some juice! To do that, however, you have to inject water deep into stressed rock. And do we know what happens kiddies?

Yes, we get the earthquake jigglies. In Switzerland, they got a little M3.4. Big for that country, but nobody would notice it in California. But I think that water injection in this particular spot will produce much bigger earthquakes, probably an M5.0. Still, not very big for here.

Will be very interesting to follow this.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Niagara Tunnel Starts to Pour the LIning

This is absolutely neato for our giant rock mechanics experiment (without instruments). You can see from the curve on the bottom that they will slowly 'walk' the form along and pour the floor (invert). This gives a nice firm bottom for the tunnel, and forms a base for the rest of the lining. Obviously, they are very happy, and aren't worried about the extra support needed for all that overbreak.

I am really interested in how they will support this extra concrete filling the overbreak. Will they just pour, and trust to the sidewalls and invert to take the load? Will they put in extra rock bolts to act as hangers? How much stress are they going to put in the sidewalls, which directly relates to how much margin they will leave for rock squeeze. Personally, I don't think the lining is going to last that long, but that's just me talking. :)


Wow! This one looks neat, with all my favourite stuff - ground motions, basin amplifications, fault mechanics, etc. Unfortunately, it comes when the summer heat melts my brain, and thoughts turn to beer and fish. Hopefully, I can get to them one day.

AECL gets ready to apply the duct tape


Looks like our fav. people are ready to paper over the rusty bucket. This is a very thick aluminum vessel that has gone way over its rated lifetime. They will fix it by applying a coat of paint. As I have said earlier, the seismic capacity is now zero, and the tape doesn't help!

Think of it as a corroded radiator on your car. How long can you keep it going with stop-leak?

Shake Movie


I'm not sure I understand what they are doing here, but it sounds neat.

ps. Once again, a technical person in the old company is looking to hire me for something seismic. I'm on tenterhooks! So, I'm not saying anything about eNuke, or other fun stuff for a few days. Usually, these urges get squashed at a higher level. Come on guys! I never remember anything I say, why don't you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Money for Nanticoke Buddies


Yeah, my buddies will get money for the stupidest nuclear proposal I ever saw. They are terrified that it will actually get built, but I pooh-pooh the possibility. I hope they have fun with the money!

Ottawa worries about nuclear things


Yeah, they finally realized they were downriver from that river of incompetence! They have less to worry about, now that the rusty bucket has finally holed. The article mentions that the last time they 'looked' they didn't find anything. Imagine that!

Toronto Strike - Kids Suffer


#2 son (Africa guy) is a lifeguard for the city. Naturally, during this horrible heat wave, the pools are closed. The kids suffer, maybe they'll get swine flu! Actually, we'll have this strike as long as nothing dramatic happens. If everybody suffers in silence, and is polite about their garbage. No throwing garbage at the strikers, no throwing it a McSquinty. No riots, no economic damage, no swine flu.

Naturally, a logical person might draw a conclusion from this phoney strike, but I'm not saying anything. They might conclude that the quicker things go to hell, the quicker it is over. Perhaps if everybody went on strike, it would be over tomorrow.

Cottage Heat

I was at the cottage for 3 days. Boy, was it incredibly hot! During the day I just sat in the shade, stared at the sky, and drank beer. The water is like Baked Alaska, 8 inches of very warm water on top of near-ice. You can swim as long as you never cross your path of disturbed water!

The black deerflies are the 'pests de jour', but they should go away soon. Looks like nothing to write about here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Darlington Funding Now Available


The hopes for new nuclear limp along, and here is another step in the long march. Funding is now available for groups to put on a good show at the hearings.

Sask. Wants a Maple

I'll take one, please!


Yeah, we don't have to juice up the Hazard of Hamilton! Sask. will make isotopes for us!

Trenching the San Andreas


This must be the most fun ever! Very few places in the world have such a good preservation of past earthquakes. Still, you always end up with the fact that you never know when the next one will hit, because the uncertainties are so large.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jonathan Asmis Graduating

Yeah! Oldest son has graduated. He's not the one who went to Africa, but is the one who was UofT Engineering Society President.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Plans to Juice Up Hamilton Reactor


Beware these plans to 'innocently' make the Mac Slowpoke into a commercial isotope machine. I once visited the place. It's right under everything! It's got the power of a light bulb, and is perfectly safe. Now, they want to juice it up. What are they doing for the $30 million? Putting in all highly-enriched fuel, and more safety systems to make it less likely to blow up.

Where is this great reactor? Right on the fling zone of the Hamilton fault! Can it take a high-PGV shock? Is anybody going to find out? Nope. They will use the seismic studies for a light bulb, and apply it to a Ferrari. I understand it to be a standard open bathtub design, and it will not appreciate having all the water thrown out. Only in this case, it won't be on the isolated shores of the Ottawa River.

This is the greatest threat to the maximum number of pregnant ladies of which I can conceive. Even horrible Pickering doesn't come close!

Let the unstable Maples be started before this! Who cares about Chalk River? They chose to live there!! :) My daughter is going to Mac for god's sake!

-the preceding was a rant about an unstable reactor from an unstable father...

Creep Cavitation Fuels Subduction Earthquakes


I don't really have a clue about this, but it sounds interesting. When an ocean plate gets cold and tired, it plunges back down into the earth at a subduction zone. This plate is totally soggy! When it gets down to 15 km or so, the water gets squeezed and heated out. This drives the big earthquakes, and also the volcanoes. But how can water move at these pressures where all the pores must be closed? According to this, there is a mechanism where the pores suddenly burst out into the next one, and so on. I don't know how they work in the word 'cavitation', but I suppose the old pore collapses suddenly, and there is a nano-boom. It can't completely heal because it has to accept the water from the next pore.

Anyway, some mechanism like this has to exist, or my earthquake studies would be very boring indeed.

Ehealth - Courtyard gets no more money


I've been following this story because I've been involved, and it's hilarious!

To summarize for foreign guests who will never believe this:

Health care is generally 20 years behind everyone else in information technology (IT). That's because doctors, like lawyers are throwbacks. They like scribbling incomprehensible notes so that nobody can hold them for anything. Each year, many many people die due to medical errors. Since absolutely nobody in Canada was thinking about this (no thinkers at the top!), each hospital department made their own kludge.

Eventually this was a mess in the hospital, so each hospital lumped things together for their own hospital information system (HIS). At this point, a large portion of the records were still paper.

Alberta was the first province to recognize where this was going. They started to lay in the infrastructure for '1 record per person' by starting a centralized number and authentication system to deal with duplicates. This is the most essential step, like the central IP number database.

With every hospital and every province balkanized, there have been attempts to set up 'Pan-Canadian' systems for flu, etc. All have tried to accommodate everybody, and all have failed. Zillions of dollars have gone to the big 'schmoozer' companies!

I don't think Ontario and ehealth did a speck of essential work. They gave a contract for doctors' offices to suck up hospital information, but the records were tied to a given doctor, which is stupid. The doctors use software from one of their doctor-mafia companies. As of the moment we still have 'civil war' in Ontario with no power-group willing to budge.

So into this stepped ehealth, which was built on the rubble of another failed effort. Smithers-man gave all the money to his friends and they didn't do anything that anybody could notice. Hudson and Kramer went along for the ride. Smithers is building the next nuclear plant.

Giant Nuclear Barrel Farm Planned


Another huge Obama Barrel yard is getting built. I guess they'll eventually clean these things up with all the money they have saved for plant decommissioning (Ha!).

When the new waste repository is finally built in North Dakota, these things will have to be split open (yeah radioactive gases!), the fragile contents yanked out, and put in transport containers. Then the barrels will have to be chopped up, and also put on a train. The whole wonderful mess will go through lots of states on it's way. They might even make a special detour through Nevada! :)

French Nuclear Plant - 'Practically Perfect'


In France they hold nuclear information tighter than Iran! So it comes as no surprise that it is officially on time and on budget. All those quality problems at the sister plant in Finland? Not Here!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rotational Seismology Explained - II

Part 1

If you want to measure a gravity wave, you just need a big block of concrete embedded in an underground cavern of jello, fully instrument it, and wait. This block has accelerometers and ring gyros to measure the rotational components, as it shakes in the jello.

Problem is that this nasty earth has all those earthquakes! And you can't easily filter out the effects of seismic waves. And really, you need a whole bunch of blocks in jello to detect a gravity wave. Thus, they developed the sensitive rotational sensors that you need for the task, both for the block, and the rock all around it.

Look at this guy just preparing the glass block for a ring laser! These things are expensive!

Ok, they got the cost down by using fiber loops, and other little tricks. Now they can be dispersed in the field, but what are we looking for?

One reason that a ring laser may be quite good for gravity waves is that we generally can't expect rotational waves in the rock. A real torsion wave is something we propagate down a cylinder by twisting one end rapidly. The pure rotation can only be measured at the centre, and out from there we get a mixture of translation and rotation. Torsion waves are almost impossible to propagate in an elastic half-space (which is the earth).

Nope, our seismic waves are plane waves, which set up a front and propagate rapidly. For the shear wave there will be out-of-plane rotations, and they might be interesting to measure, but the amount of rotation falls directly from the plane wave equations, and translational measurements are most likely enough.

You can get complex rotational waves and effects right near a complex fault, where all the plane waves intersect, and I can imagine a tight rotational wave propagating for a short time. This makes life more deadly near a fault, and would be a good place for these new sensors.

In fact, any complexity will start things 'spinning'. A soil basin could easily hold a rotational wave, imagine a bowl of jello that you suddenly twist. Like a cylinder wave, the maximum vertical axis rotation would be at the centre of the basin. There would be horizontal axis rotation with surface waves.

It is with surface structures, that there is observable rotation. Images just as these have haunted 'rotation fans' for generations.
I don't think much of this, but some people do. Nevertheless, when a building starts to rock, things become much worse. Rotational sensors could sort some of this out.


Rotational Seismology Explained - I

I mentioned before that the May 2009 BSSA was a big thick journal dedicated to rotational seismology. I didn't think much of it, which raised the Ire of Bob. So, on a slow news day, I read the damn thing, and here is my gist.

Consider a piece of ground, or a spot in a building. When there is an earthquake, this lump starts to move. We can describe its particle motion in 3D if we can measure three components, up-down, north-south, and east-west. Much like the tree in the forest, this motion can only exist for us if we measure it. We do that using an instrument which measures the acceleration on the 3 components.

Acceleration doesn't tell us how it is moving, but if we have a total history of acceleration from time=0, we can integrate once to get velocity (yeah!), or integrate twice to get displacement. Then with a fancy computer program we can get a little movie on how it moved during the earthquake. The double integration is a mathematical bitch, and sometimes it is better to measure the displacement directly, such as with gps.

Has the motion of this instrumented lump been completely described? NO! There's a matter of the 3 rotational components.

Here we have our 3 components. If the lump is at the centre, and you grabbed each axis and gave it a twist, that would describe the rotational components. Here's the complexity. Although I could have a movie of that little lump moving around this axis system, the rotational components would have to follow the lump. A whirling lump makes for a very complex movie. That's why most rational people forget about all this.

But thank goodness there are people who care about this arcane aspect of particle motion! The first people were those who are tryng to measure gravity waves. Old Einstein threw out a teaser when he said that when two huge objects, such as black holes, start to dance with each other, they will throw out gravity waves which propagate at the speed of light. Ever since, there have been crazies ;) trying to measure these things. No luck yet.

-to be continued, as usual, after I count my pennies. :)

Earthquakes Give NASA a Lift


Stung by leaky hydrogen tanks, and a kludgy space hotel that nobody's interested in, nasa gets out some good PR with earthquakes.

One day, when the San Andreas snaps, there will be some great Insar pictures. They will show exactly what you see on the ground, mainly that the fault has slid some 3 m.

Alaskan Seismic Hazard


It's looks like Alaska has more to fear than the Palins! They have released the latest hazard maps, mainly focusing on land slip. All the big damage during the 1964 earthquake was with landslides, and earth movement. I did a study on this when I was looking at rock vs. soil for seismic effects. In Alaska, there were buildings on rock that weren't even touched!

So, if you are in one of those red zones, be ready for a ride!

No Money for Nuclear Clean-up


This looks like a business fraud as big as GM's unfunded pension liability. It's all well and good to imagine you'll have the money, but it really is a debt. So the reality is that most of these nuclear plants will just be shut down with a rusty chain link fence and a sleepy guard. The Obama barrels will just rust by the river, having been made to Chinese quality standards.

And don't expect the bankrupt government to fix everything. Here's the latest Economist cover about the gov't debt. (God, this is grouchy!)

Penn. Geology


An interesting article on the geology of the state. They are investigating because of some crazy idea of co2 storage, but it is still good stuff. I like the picture of the little vibrator truck, but I don't think it can get down very deep. Maybe they'll see the mega-thrusts, but I doubt it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

4 Reactors to Share 18 Billion


That seems so pathetically inadequate, doesn't it? Still, maybe it means better parties for these guys. Or using the good glossy paper to gloss over 'that little waste problem'. Maybe they can print that MIT thing of 'Don't bother about having a hole in the ground!". They are so much in love with casks by the river.

So, I'm glad that Harry Reid didn't destroy the country forever, that they are going to build nuclear plants, or at least suck off all the government money and produce nothing. Oh wait! That's what we do! They'll just have to find another talent.

Fisherman in the Sahara


Yes, that's we earthquake people feel in 'stable' little places like Alberta and Ontario. No earthquakes in Alberta or Toronto! That's why Bruce feels they can plonk down a nuclear plant anywhere!

So keep up the good fight Alberta, with your pathetic little earthquakes! A toast of my Google wine to you!

Tuesday Update

That's my boring title. There is nothing in the news, so let's get on with the idle blab!

It has become generally accepted that the Rusty Bucket may never produce isotopes again. Although the isotopes are needed, they did not factor in the total economic externalities, such as the huge seismic risk, and the chance the bucket would just split spontaneously.

I'm so happy about my Niagara Rock Mechanics Experiment. Who'd thought they could get up to such speeds? The old tunnels skimmed under this roof and were smart enough not to crack it. Now I'm all pins and needles to see what that sandstone can do to the cutters. Whirlpool Sandstone was a great building material because of it's fracture toughness. It will fight the grinding disks!

Did you notice that all the other Ridiculous Things are very quiet right now? Must be the summer, or that the Plight of Lisa has got them scared sh*tless.

Haven't been to the cottage for all of this Arctic June. My tomato plants look like sticks!

Have been buying those solar lamps for the new patio. Holy Crap those things are crap! I think the Chinese are really cheaping out with this recession. I'm getting 20% defect rate on everything. I don't know how many times I've taken things back. I'm worn out and settling for one failure per pack. And they're all the same! (probably made by the same fraud artists).

Bought two new computers for the teens. First one was a monster game machine for Mr. Total War. Second was a very cute dorm machine for Miss Sims. This was an eeepc box with a radeon. It's very small and quite snappy and will do everything required in University. It's just not fast enough to do full time acceleration in Sims 3. BTW these new tiny boxes have no cdrom, which Mr. Sims hasn't figured out yet. I used a usb cdrom, and got a 'patch' which allows it to run Sims without a cd. Apparently a lot of people need this patch even if they have a cdrom, since it is a crap DRM thing.

If no news shows up, I'm going back and doing the series on rotational seismology. This should make Bob happy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Niagara TBM at Full Speed

As of June 13th 2009

continuous roof line over-break of 60 centimeters
average 13 metres per day

It's just as the blogroom predicted, no overbreak, and speeds approaching theoretical maximum. Boy, is this going to be a good section of tunnel for our giant rock mechanics experiment. God knows we have enough sections of the other type...

Probably another week or two of this great stuff, and then we enter TBM Horror - a mixed face! Since the cost of this tunnel will far exceed any water income, we should celebrate what it is - the worlds most elaborate underground laboratory. I really wish they would do some more measurements, though.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tiny Reactor - blah


This is just your standard Davis-Besse light water, nuclear submarine reactor made tiny. Still, lots of things to go wrong, but rather bitchier to inspect. Too bad they can't do isotopes!

Ehealth LInks revealed


I was wondering how these people got their jobs. They learned everything about computers from their ipods! Turns out it was a very intense buddy network. (and I'm not saying anything about 'interns' here!)

As I have said a zillion times before, these guys always fail if it has something to do with basic physics, or the art of not pushing on a rope. In this case, they had to turn a computer on. I had a chance to be involved with an ehealth scheme, and I wanted all the patient records mixed up and encrypted. That way we had some 'defense in depth', and nobody could get a dump of 10,000 confidential health records. But, nooooo, they didn't understand that, and have opted for full clear-text flat files, protected by the password 'dog'.

But, thank goodness that isn't going ahead, because nothing is going ahead! The same guys can go off and build nuclear plants. :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Water Injection Causing Earthquakes


This is fairly common. You start injecting water, and you get earthquakes. Most of them are fairly small, and the town will just have to get used to them.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This man will give us a new nuclear plant


Even as all hell breaks loose in the nuclear biz, he says he will bring in a new nuclear plant. Remember, he is the one who set up the whole ehealth thing, not Caplan. Yeah for another sinkhole! :)

Canada gives up doing anything intelligent


Well, I have been writing for some time that our self-similar organizations can no longer make anything work. Harper has finally closed the AECL sinkhole, but is everything getting closed? Is this our final doom? (as they would say in fantasy books).

We can't design cars, we can't build a nuclear plant, we can't dig a tunnel, and we can't dispose of radioactive waste. All these things will be closed once they are recognized as billion dollar sinkholes (after the billions, of course). Should somebody finally listen to me?

We are already one year into the Ontario Lost Decade. We have to rise up against self-similarity to stop this! I don't have to because I'm retired, but somebody has to!

Oh well, back to unloading that van....

Back from my booze run

Had a nice time in the Big M, in la belle province. I never say the name, or the 'defenders' will come out and attack me. It's good for getting cheap beer at Costco, and fillyourown wine. The main wine stores don't do the ufillit wine any more, because there's no money in it. But downtown there still is this outlet for 'hardcore' fillers. You can fill hard liquor and a huge variety of wine. Good thing the gps helped me to get there, it's impossible!

Also it's a good thing the old van has self-leveling shocks! It'll be sad when I finally dump the old van in the fall, it has things most new vans still don't have.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Niagara TBM Rollin' Under the Sandstone

As of June 1st 2009

Tunnel is 4245 meters (13,927 feet) long
continuous roof line over-break of 1.4 metres
average 10 metres per day


This will be its happiest time, zooming along at max speed under the sandstone. Too bad it can't stay there forever! I wonder what the rock squeeze is like right under that roof? All depends on the adhesion of shale to the sandstone. Soon they'll be down to almost zero overbreak and 15 m a day!

Then the shit hits the fan.

Seismic Bottom Feeders


This reminds me of the time we were trawling the bottom of the giant oil patch data farms. They've got so much juicy data, and they usually just process the upper skim of it. If Bruce were to be seriously worried that they are right on top of the Grenville Front, they could get all the oil seismic data for that region. Instead, they just hope it goes away.

The Physics of Pumped Storage


Pumped storage is back in the news. Obviously, if you are going to have these stupid windmills everywhere, you need to store energy for times when the wind doesn't blow (like all summer in Ontario!).

So, they have latched on to pumped storage, which is a geotechnical job extraordinaire, and requires basic physics. This is something the Political Power People don't do very well!

Here it is, my efficient 6 L toilet. The 'power' of the water is related to height, max at the top, and zero at the bottom. This toilet only takes the top 6 L, to maintain 50% power at the close of the flush. The old toilets would run to the bottom which is generally useless. These stupid toilets never wash out the minerals accumulating in the tank!

Now, a dam is the same as my toilet.

The power generation is happiest when the dam level is at the top. If we let the water drop, we are spinning turbines for nothing, like pissing into the wind! Most dams have power systems sized for the general average flow. In the spring, they let water spill over the top, and they usually spill at night.

In order to make a dam useful for minor storage, you are going to allow the headpond level to go up and down. That means the turbines and lines have to be 'oversized' for peak power. Some dams near Ottawa can do this, and they run only during the morning and afternoon peaks. They kill a lot of trespassers, because the water can suddenly roll down the outflow like a wall! Varying the water flow causes a lot of erosion, and other fishy problems.

Still, the capacity to do this is very small. To do this properly, you need to build a new headpond and dam off to the side, and up a hill. Then you actually pump up water at night, and let it go through turbines during the peak times. Ok, but here's the Catch 22 - if you build these things, you don't need stupid wind power! You can capture all the excess nuclear and dam power at night, and there's a lot of it.

Needless to say, these are a bitch to build. Where do you find the space? The Niagara pumped storage has marginally stable side walls, and they want to raise them. Would you build them on bad geology? They are useless for wildlife. I just can't see them getting built, and they are useless far away from the demand, due to transmission losses.

California Chases the Dream of Early Warning


This is a very nice article on recent efforts in California to provide an early warning system of the Big One. I'm not a big fan of these things, since they never work, but some people are. I think they give a Happy Sleepiness, when the bigger threat might be local M7's.

Still, who am I to deny their fun?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Yes, we have no experts!


No experts on light water, but plenty of experts on a new candu design, using 2% enriched fuel, light water, no vacuum building, and has never seen the light of day! Where did these amazing people come from?

I think the new design shouldn't even be called candu, for it gives a false impression. Just being a 'little' enriched, is like being a little bit pregnant. As well, they are using a lot of light water! So buck up Lisa, they are going to ask for a lot more money, no matter what!

And Another Head Rolls


I knew this was coming. Kramer has met her ultimate fate, a bit early. Time to line up the next professional scapegoat. Trouble is that this ehealth thing is so full of inbred insiders, that there really isn't anybody who isn't married or related to somebody else. And you could count the number of bright people I've met in this field, on a fist!

Once again, if I were king of this, I would open it up to outsiders. Try to tap into some world talent. Make it an open source project! Hire anybody who contributed something intelligent. But it won't happen because the doctors are in with their own companies, and the whole thing is corrupt to the wazoo!

Geology is Important


That's nice. There is a reason we should all know something about geology. Would the States come out with a primer on evolution? Ha, Ha!

Canadian Power People are above this sort of thing. They don't need to know anything about basic physics or geology to do what they do....

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cross Off New Brunswick for Nuclear Storage


This is the silly season for every backwater politician to rant and rave about no waste in their backyard. Have they used the "Nuclear Wasteland" term yet? NB may be a perfectly wonderful place for a facility, but I don't know the geology. I wonder who will be the next politician to succumb to this disease?

Geotechnical Arts


An interesting tidbit, blending geotechnical engineering with the arts community. Seems that the politicians chose a new site based on political optics. Had a big party already! Too bad the site is all water-logged mud.

You can actually build on a site like this, if the bedrock is at a reasonable depth, and you use piles or caissons. But you can't put in an underground parking structure! Much like the sites that politicians choose for nuclear plants, the local geology doubles the cost.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Blogger to consider new approach to raise earthquake awareness


Yes, that's the ticket! Where do I get those outfits? Do you think it will work here in Canada, where politicians work on their dullness?

Toronto Pergola & Inukshuk

There it is, brand new! I have this nasty L on the side of the house, and it gets the sun like a solar furnace. As well, the water was all building up and getting into the basement. So, Phil did a great job (phil@fivestarcontracting.ca), and quite reasonable, plus I get to claim that tiny tax credit. Note Inukshuk creation by Phil! I ordered some shade cloth from the States. Man that stuff is impossible to get here! I'll put it over the pergola until my clematis takes.

So the water all slides off into the corner, and I get rid of nasty, organic, weed-infested Toronto grass!

Attica Earthquake


A tiny earthquake to wake everybody up. The Attica earthquake of 1929 defines the seismic hazard for the region. Probably identical to the Cornwall earthquake of 1944, these earthquakes should be considered 'common' for seismic zones in this area. Certainly, I consider this to be the 'average' scenario for the Toronto earthquake.

We had an M5.0 and M5.4 in the Cleveland area, and all of these zones are identical from a rock mechanics point of view. That is why Toronto is #5 in seismic hazard, and #1 in ignorance!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Chalk River repair to be longer than estimated


Still doing formal tone:

Maybe they'll come out with a new estimate - 4 months.

Don't make fun of French pilots


We started to do it in Toronto when they slid off the runway in bad weather. We joked that they said "Oh, ze weater is terrible. Vite!"

Now, they may have broken up the plane in mid-flight. "Computer? We don't need ze stinking computer!"

So don't do that, it's very sad. We must remain entirely humourless, like me.

No Staff at Nuclear Plants


Penniless Tone

Here's an article on the wonderful productivity improvements at our nuclear plants. They are now able to operate at a fraction of the staff they used to have. When I was at my fictional company everyone was taking advantage of the generous pension and leaving the very instant they could. They were hiring only happy local people, who scraped through university, and offered no threat to the happy fractal web of control.

More Parties for Nuclear Waste


Penniless Formal Tone: That nice organization is holding more parties. They are so reasonable, saying "We don't want people doing it just for the jobs, of which there will be many." No mention of geology.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rotational Seismology

My new BSSA is in, and it's a big thick volume all about rotational seismology. And what do you know? I think it's all a crock! For hundreds of years people have looked at tombstones after an earthquake, and have seen them rotated. From that, they assume there is a strong rotational component to the seismic motion. I thought that was all debunked when they realized these things just walk that way through rocking, but no, this journal is full of those pictures!

Now, when it comes to building dynamics, rocking is very important, but this can be all figured out with multiple translational sensors, and some decent dynamic modeling. But here they make a big deal out of it. I'm just amazed.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sweden goes for damp and wet waste site


Yuck, I hate damp and wet! But if you are going for a naked granite site, that's what you are going to get. To compensate, you have to throw in a ton of copper and other valuable metals to try and seal the waste. My, my, doesn't that seem yummy to our future post-kaboom societies?

Foxes Mind the Ehealth Henhouse


I'm just following this because I have been so peripherally involved. The big crime here isn't the money, but that they didn't do anything! The word on the street is that nothing is getting done. It's like politicians building the next nuclear plant. Not going to happen!

Unfortunately, the act of getting something actually done is not Politically Perfect (PP). Messy compromises have to be made. Losers have to cry. Lots of backseat drivers get offended. The stupid law courts get involved in technical issues.

None of the Power Groups win with electronic records. It's like the Passport system trying to modernize. Everybody loses!

My current hypothesis is that we will never see anything work under the current conditions of PP Tyranny. One day, when we want things to work, we will have to open everything up and take away the power of the Politically Perfect Power People. (PPPP)

Hippos in the Arctic


This story has everything: Hippos, isotopes, climate change, geology and Canada.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hold Your Nose and Complete Maples


Now that we have a fully compliant (IAEA) CNSC, why not finish the Maples?


Better than a clapped out research reactor
We really need a reliable commercial isotope supply
MDS needs the money


Slight chance for a kaboom
Reactors on soft soil in a hot seismic zone
Not a shred of seismic capacity

So, let the Russians come in and fix them. We'll handle the stability problem using the finest Russian 'fly by wire' electronics.

Upside-Down Earthquakes

The cover shows a novel way to display the 3-d distribution of earthquakes. The earthquake depths are inverted over a Google 3-d map. When the earthquakes zoom up, they are really plunging down. Looks cute.