Friday, December 31, 2010

Western Quebec Seismic Zone Part 3

The geology up there is really interesting.  I always thought the most important thing was the failed rift.  This happened when there was an earlier opening of the Atlantic ancestors (Iapetus).  Remember that this ocean has opened and closed like a toilet seat over the billions of years.  But that was 650 million years ago, and this hotspot thing was more than 100 million years ago.  I really studied this stuff, but now I realize that there are a lot  of fractures, and none of this stuff matters.

Here's a cute graphic.

I just threw that in because it's cute!  I've come to realize (My Theory, and My Theory Alone) that the important thing is water, and/or a forcing function.  All the rock is fractured and on the verge of failure, due to major tectonic forces.  So if you inject shale-gas water, you get an earthquake (Yeah Indiana!).  In WQ there is a major forcing function of the last glacial bounce-back.  It's like a dimple you make with your thumb on a cheap plastic ball.  It takes a while to come out, and then there's that last pop.  WQ is undergoing the last pop!

The end.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Niagara Tunnel Non-Update

Here is the most mundane statement yet:  "The Niagara Tunnel, now 4 years late, and a couple of billion over, model for future nuclear plants, does not appear to be alive yet.  It was supposed to roar to life on Dec. 27, but we have not received any signal."

But that's ok!  Sometimes these things take a little time, and a little bit more money.....  :)

Indiana Earthquake

I just threw this in because it is in the most seismically dead area in the world!  But it's right next to Gas City, so I wonder what they're doing there....

Western Quebec Seismic Zone Part 2

I remember when I first joined the old company and was looking into earthquakes.  They were just coming out with the (horrendously old) Darlington design basis earthquake (DBE).  WQ was the major contributor of seismic hazard for the plant.  We now know that the major contributor is the Hamilton Fault (my theory).

WQ is somewhat weird in that it has a very steep b-curve, which means it is fractally 'crunchy'.  It has a lot of M5 and under quakes, and very little major seismicity.  You have the Cornwall and Temi earthquakes at both extremes.  It's my opinion that the zone is extremely fractured, and there are good physics reasons why it can't go big.

This paper pushes the fact that the area over-rode a hotspot, which zipped down from the north, and formed all those anomalous 'mounts' like Mt. Royal in Montreal.

-to be continued

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Western Quebec Seismic Zone Part 1

Well, the only local earthquake this Christmas happened in Quebec and nobody even felt it.  It was on all the news just because it was reported by the seismometers.  Jeez, those reporters are scraping the bottom!

But it got me going on a new series!  Yeah!

I do these bad screen scans to save me from the nasties!

Ok, now that I've declared the series, I've got to go and think about it.  :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Niagara Tunnel - Main Beam Cracks for Christmas

A 5.1 cm (2 inch) crack appeared at the top of the main beam (center spine support) of the TBM resulting in the immediate stoppage of mining. The main beam supports the TBM cutterhead, grippers and major hydraulics. In order to repair this crack, four 200 ton jacks have been utilized to lift the sections at the front of the crack and the rear of the crack in order to align the beam before it can be welded. 

Ernst Gschnitzer, Project Manager has said "she (the TBM ) has a crack in the Main Beam that we need to repair. After 9,107 meters of mainly difficult ground and more than 6,000 hours, we think she is just getting older and suffering from some correlated disease. We would have had to do some last repair anyway prior to the last reach of tunnel. Including these maintenance and repair works, we expect her back in service by December 27."

Well, I had a nice Christmas, no big killer earthquakes around the world.  Everybody got nifty toys, and I got some top-rack wine to compensate for nasty Google freezing me out.  :)

That's a heck of a load for that weld to hold!  Reminds me of try to glue things under a lot of stress.  It never works!  This machine expected a nice romp in the park, through soft shale, most of the trip.  But the shale proved to be a trap, and they had to move up into the very tough dolomite.  I'll bet if you did a scan on that steel you would find it riddled with fatigue cracks.  Still, we hope the weld holds, and doesn't crack immediately right beside it, which is what I would expect.  But I'm in a Christmas mood, and even if the whole beam just disintegrates, they can just inject another secret billion!  :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Merry Geofish Christmas

Xerox Family Letter

Yeah, nothing big going on!  I wish a merry earthquake-free Christmas to all.  My readership is going off on vacation, and I'm hopelessly busy getting the house ready for kids and all their various tag-alongs.

The Dog is fine, as well as the squirrels in the front tree.

This year saw the blog make fun of a lot of things, but the big readership was on all the earthquakes this year.  We had our very own Ontario earthquake, which I didn't feel while having a beer, sunning myself outside.  I can't remember all the earthquakes, since I never remember anything I write.  Thank God for all those archives!

So, I'm signing off for the holidays, and may the Great Toronto Earthquake hold off for a while.   :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Good Geology - Bruce Deep Waste Thingie Goes Ahead


I was looking up the horrible Darlington Env. Ass. and I found that there has been some action on the Bruce Deep Waste Hole.  As we recall from my previous work, this is situated right in the Worst Rock in the World, right on top of the Grenville Front Fault.  However, they actually found a layer of limestone that seems to have resisted the tendency to turn into ratshit by all the tectonic forces involved.

Thus, we have these marvelous documents concentrating on this layer, and some are quite recent.  I especially like how they are going to deal with the horribly saline water by dumping it into a pond.  No mention of trainloads of grout with the attendant caustic grout water.  Anyway, this is better than Wikileaks, except that it's all open, but couched in obscurity.

Note that the only people looking at all this fluff are the poor minions under the thumb of the Master Toadie appointed by Harper.  I'm sure they are very limited in what they can say.

Friday, December 17, 2010

California Earthquake Radar


Hot in the earthquake news today is a presentation which shows how an Easter earthquake is still shoving dirt around in California.

Here we have a messy picture showing the motion.  It's a dog's breakfast of motion in all directions.  In the earthquake, some ground moved the opposite direction from the main fault.  This can be expected at various gaps.  The news says some gaps of over 7 miles were 'jumped'.

I don't know that this takes us anywhere, but it shows things are terribly complex.  From a map of motions, I wouldn't dare consider where the next earthquake will take place.  Is it in the zones of no motion, lots of motion, weird motion???  My thoughts are that the rock down there is just a big sandpile of broken rock, and you can't get much from the surface geology.

Earthquake on Greek Islands

This is a clear case where a beautiful setting is directly related to earthquakes.  In fact, all the real scenic places of the world have something to do with earthquakes, and without them it would all be as boring as Pt. Hope!

So there's this quake, buried in the historical seismicity!  But we can see there have been a lot of big quakes.

It's very interesting that these islands are being pulled apart, so that we have normal (extension) faulting.

The whole landscape pulls apart and leaves these beautiful islands, with one side steep and one side shallow sloped.  Now, there have been some huge earthquakes here, and I wonder if you can get supershear with normal faulting.  Instead of a 'Fist of God', you would get the 'Yank of God'.  The main pulse would be tension instead of compression, but I don't think it would make much difference at the surface!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One AECL Bidder Melting


Oh, I had bad impulses when thinking of a headline!  Harper wants to sell to somebody with big bucks, like the Japanese bought out Westinghouse, but there's nobody left!  Not even the Russian Mafia, and other such groups are becoming less interested.  :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

AECL Attracts Buyers with no Money


I'm not saying anything on this, but this is more fun to watch than a bunch Swedish Law Weasels!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Arkansas: Earthquakes and Disposal Continue


Quite interesting.  I just looked up the latest earthquakes, and there were a lot of Arkansas earthquakes.  Apparently they inject to 12,000 feet all around there.  As well, I remember the big Enola swarm in 1982, with 15,000 earthquakes.  These things happen...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Earthquake Building Code Principles Becoming Irrelevant


I've always been in conflict with our sappy building codes.  Basically, they've operated on a 'No Pancake' principle since the beginning of time.  Even so, the old boys club constantly fights upgrades to these codes, citing that the past is good enough.

But in the East, we aren't going to have pancaking, so it makes the codes useless.  We are going to have devastating economic damage, when all these lightweight buildings become unusable.  The insurance companies don't like this, especially after they were hosed by NZ!

Structural engineers who design cold-formed-steel buildings need more information about how the material will perform during earthquakes, Schafer said, in part because of revised thinking in the construction industry. “The old approach was to just make sure the building didn’t fall down in an earthquake, even if it was no longer safe or was too badly damaged to be used afterward,” he said. “Now, we’re focusing on what you can do to bring it up to a higher level of performance to make sure that the building can still be used after an earthquake, when desired.”

Some of the motivation for this is coming from the insurance companies and business owners who are economically tied to such structures. If a critical warehouse or a major customer service center can continue to operate after an earthquake, the business owners will likely incur lower losses. “For this reason, a sturdier building can lead to lower insurance rates and provide a level of business confidence for certain owners,” Schafer said.

The payout is huge for 'business interruption'.  All the buildings I see going up are designed on ultimate strength, with not much lateral stiffness.  I am sure no attention is paid to the foundation.  What's going to happen to the insides of these things?  What about the glass cladding?  When the earthquake happens with a wind chill of 40 below (like right now!) everything is destroyed.  So, I think the insurance companies will lead this, with lower rates to sturdier construction, and to heck with the building code!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Parkfield to be Expanded


Do you know that Mr. Google won't let me directly lift this picture off a g-d-m press release?

I am now angry and won't say anything.

The Physics of the Super-Shear Earthquake Part 4

In our last episode, our heroes were about to let go the big quake.

This is the geological model.  Note the upper rock is pretty soft and crappy.

The lower rock is more like Ontario.

Now, for the show.


Look at the mess on the 15 m supershear!  The rock is shattered.  And this is where they get their 5 m/s.  At that PGV, the rock itself turns to dust.  Nothing can stand, and the whole Yuckky thing collapses.  The most damage is on the hanging wall, and that's where you'll see the highest PGV.

This is not realistic for the site.  To get supershear, you need highly stressed hard rock that has been ground smooth by previous earthquake activity.  This will be apparent by a low b-value.  For example, Haiti which goes every 300 years without a lot of small activity is such a situation.  Shattered rock like Yuck would have  a high b-value.

I believe the Hamilton fault is also primed for supershear.  As shown in the plot, you can confirm earlier activity by drilling into the hanging wall.  The rock should be shattered, with high fluid flow, and natural gas should be seeping out.  You can examine the lake sediments and look for hanging wall damage in the sediments, and natural gas pockmarks.

GUESS WHAT?   Hamilton has all that!

End of series

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Crappy Transformers Doom Vancouver


Central Vancouver is particularly vulnerable, it says, because transformers mounted on wooden poles downtown may arc and explode in a quake, sparking fires inches from commercial buildings.

"Vancouver appears to be the only major city in North America that has not relocated its electric transmission underground in the city core."

There have been many earthquakes where exploding transformers lit the night sky.  Very pretty.  :)

The Physics of the Super-Shear Earthquake Part 3

We've gone through the reasonable assumptions of the next San Andreas earthquake, that's what those folks burning supercomputer oil are doing.  Now, let's be unreasonable...

Why?  Let's digress....   I've been in the seismic nuclear biz for 30 years.  During that time, we always asked the question - "What sort of ground motions are we going to get?".  This has been answered using Uniform Hazard Spectra, which is a probabilistic way to get these answers.  There is a big problem when you get to very low probabilities (which is explained in the paper), in that you are essentially starting to divide by zero.  This results in huge, unrealistic accelerations, etc.  We ran into that with the Dam Safety program, where we had to anchor down concrete gravity dams!  (rather Quebecish that).

So, these guys had the bright idea of determining the physical limits of ground motion, which is something I have advocated over the years.

But it didn't really work here!  Yucky Mt. is the most ridiculous site ever, riddled with faults.  Just that it's in the desert, right beside all these giant nuclear bomb holes, so who gives a hoot?

The researchers devised a numerical model of a fault that made anything realistic look like a damp squib.  They stressed up a thrust fault to the max, set the critical displacement to a tiny value, and made the dynamic friction drop to zero.  Then they let it go!

-to be continued.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Physics of the Super-Shear Earthquake Part 2

Now, consider the average fault rupture exactly like setting up a dominoes fall.

It is quite difficult to set things up so that you tip one, and they all go.  When I was a kid, quite often I would have a big one set up, and then OOOPS!  Very frustrating.  For faults, the critical parameters are Critical Displacement (dc), and stress drop.  The dc is the distance the fault has to slide to shear off those last adhesion points and go into dynamic friction.  The stress drop measures how much that fault friction drops.  In dominoes, these things are set by the geometry of the pieces.

A normal earthquake has a high dc, probably over a metre.  For a rupture, the whole fault has to be set up so that there is a high stress drop, and the dc is reachable by the propagating S wave.  The P wave zooms on ahead, and is ignored.  As the rupture starts, the first stress drop goes into seismic energy, which has to be sufficient.  The wave goes ahead, and applies a force to create displacement.  More seismic energy is liberated as the dominoes fall.  These earthquakes are usually bad enough.

Now we come to this delicious paper.

Sad old Yucca Mountain!  But they put a lot of money into it.  Next episode we'll see what we got.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Physics of the Super-Shear Earthquake

Long time readers will know that I've gone on and on about super-shear or high PGV earthquakes.  I have also called them 'Fist of God' or 'punching' earthquakes.  There have been a lot under cities which were smashed by the ground motions.  Armenia, Kobe, and Haiti may be some.

The amount of seismic damage from a fault rupture depends totally on the velocity of the rupture front, which in turn depends on other things.  I was quite amazed to find a great variety in this.  You can have extremely slow ruptures, such as happens yearly (or so) under BC.  You can have 'tsunami quakes' where the rupture front picks up a bit, enough to cause a tsunami, but no felt motions.  This can be quite deadly!

Your average earthquake has a rupture front that zooms along at the speed of the S wave.  As we recall from our Wikipedia reading, there are the two main seismic waves - S and P.  The Primary wave arrives first because it is a straight compressive wave, like sound waves.  When I felt my only earthquake, the day before I got married, the P waves made the brother-in-law's huge collection of glass airline bottles buzz like an angry rattlesnake!  That's the thing about P waves, the amplitude and induced strain (damage) is very small.  Then came the S waves which shook the whole house!  These are always larger amplitude shear waves, they have high PGV and are responsible for 90% of the damage in an earthquake.

I still get my electronic copy of the BSSA, and will spill an important paper which is hiding behind the paywall, even though Hilary might get mad at me!  :)

-to be continued.

WikiLeaks Hosted Here

No, I just put that up for chaff.  This whole thing has thrown me into a tizzy, and that's why I'm not writing.  The US overreaction scares me.  Now you can find WikiLeaks by doing a search and going to an unnamed mirror site.  Imagine a Swedish Three-Way being rape, and Interpol warrants 'for questioning'.  That's a lot of corruption there.

Normally I wouldn't want to have anything to do with this.  I get my diplomatic news through the Economist.  Reading the cables is like diplomatic porn, you get a sleazy feeling, but it was interesting that Hezbollah has laid fiber to every remote goat village, something that Canada can't do.

So, here I am, a quivering mass.  At least Australia has backed down on the personal attacks, somehow I feel vulnerable as an inconvenient blogger.  And WL is getting more shrill with the attacks on them.  I downloaded the whole dataset, along with the 'insurance bomb', but I don't intend to do anything with it -- too boring!

Hopefully I'll get out of this blog-depression soon.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Canadian Massive Quake


According to the report by the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, a non-profit research group established by insurance companies and dedicated to enhancing resiliency to natural disasters, Vancouver and Victoria, followed by Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal are among the most vulnerable communities in Canada.

Poooey, no mention of Toronto!

I am now going into a writing sabbatical (hiding) until there is a massive quake somewhere, since all those right-wingers want to assassinate any inconvenient bloggers.

Ontario Nuclear - Big Kanoodle About Enriched Uranium


GE Declares ACR1000 Dead

He tried to assure the crowd the company had shelved its plans to create the low enriched uranium production line and would not be bringing enriched uranium into the community anytime in the foreseeable future because there is currently no market for it in Canada.

"We have no plans on the drawing board at the moment to move forward with the production of low enriched uranium fuel because at this point in time there is no demand in Canada either now or in the foreseeable future," he said.

Well, if you have been following my blog, you would know about the ACR1000 'Big Lie' that should have been exposed on Wikileaks, but is left to me instead.  And it's all about the fuel they have to use to get that huge power density.  AECL and GE are using the term 'lightly enriched', which is equivalent to 'little bit pregnant'.

It means they are using 2% enriched fuel, instead of the US standard of 4% (I think natural is around 1% or less).  The easiest way to do this is just mix in some pure U235, or old-bomb mixed oxide into the natural uranium.  It's a great way to get rid of old bomb stuff, but there is absolutely no difference in the process and handling of 'low' vs enriched fuel.  Might as well just call it enriched fuel.

If we have our Korean Ontario Nuclear Design Corporation, and fix up the ACR1000, then we will be going to enriched fuel.  If we pick any other design, it uses enriched.  Only if we use a spruced-up Darlington will we go with natural, but we will used mixed-oxide to burn up old bomb stuff.  GE might as well relocate to Port Hope. :)

California Earthquake Symposium


But the symposium has provoked some controversy among other structural engineers who say the event is being cosponsored by companies — Miyamoto, a structural engineering company with offices on the West Coast and in Tokyo, and Sun Valley-based Tower General Contractors — with a financial interest in drumming up more business for seismic retrofit contracts. (The third cosponsor is UCLA's George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation; all three entities worked on the LAX renovation project.)

Wow, this is interesting.  Heaton and Yanev are great thinkers, and it doesn't look like money is driving them.  I thought that some of the buildings in Chile look like they got hit with a high-velocity fling.  They are probably also raising the issue of 'clean punch' M7's.  Of course, this is exactly the same attitude one would get from the old engineers if you were dumb enough to say there is a problem in Toronto!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Google, Antitrust and Making Money from a Blog


European Union competition watchdogs announced their investigation, after smaller companies accused Google of "unfavourable treatment" of their services in both unpaid and sponsored search results, the crucial listings that make the web navigable.

Oh, I just have to wade in here with my experience, even though lately I seem to be wandering all over the place.  I really seem to be heading for a manic-counter-reaction shutdown!  Anyway, I love Google, with their free support of my blog, and I use their stuff all the time.  But, they are absolutely ruthless and nasty when it comes to their core business of serving up sleazy ads.  I ran into that when I kept making fun of their ads while raking in wine money on Adsense.  But they slammed me down, and banned me for life, even though I promised that next time I'd be really, really good!

So, I have this intellectual blog, and am not making a penny from it!  I read somewhere that only sleazy blogs make money, especially anything to do with making money, or losing weight.  I just had a guy offer me $100 to inject a piece of link spam in one of my articles.  The fact that it had the stilted English of a Nigerian scam, gave me pause.

So Mr. Google, I still love you!  I hope the Euros don't beat you up too much, but you can probably afford to the clear up the national debt of Ireland all by yourself!

New Madrid States Develop Scenarios for M6.0 Earthquake


Middle Tennessee residents would see chimneys collapsing and structural cracks in older buildings, but they would feel the loss of power most.

"We'd be plunged into darkness, some of us without feeling the quake," Heidt said, as downed power lines and collapsed stations shut down electricity to 2.6 million in the eight states.

"All communications would be out. All air travel would be out as the FAA air control would go down. All rail travel would fail. Ports would shut down; oil and natural gas pipelines could be off line."

And this is just an M6, which is a reasonable scenario for Toronto.  They have braced some electrical systems, but the whole valley is mud soup which amplifies things by 10-100 times.  Southern Ontario could do something with all those old sub-stations around Hamilton...

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Diplomatic Facebook and Technology

Geofish quote:  "Technology is not kind to bureaucracies"

This Wikileaks episode accurately parallels my experience with the old company, when the new internet technology became available.  Apparently, all this diplomatic crap came from the equivalent of a diplomatic Usenet or Facebook.  Everybody and their dog had access, and could store it all on their laptop unencrypted.  It's probably been released a zillion times.

This is exactly what happened with the companies, except that there was no Wikileaks, only lawyers.  For a company, all of this can be released with one lawsuit.  Many new companies had engaged in a internal internet free-for-all.  Our company was also at the leading edge of this, thanks to me.  So what happened then?  They clamped down, and no information was available on any channel.  No emails, no colourful language, no analysis, no brains.  Everything was done on private channels, with a different story down each one!  I remember the IT department was telling one story to the techies, and a different one to the execs. Nobody made any decisions in meetings, because that would be recorded in the minutes.  So, it was all private, and all decisions appeared arbitrary.

What happened?  -- Total 'gut' governance.  You can see the results.  (Niagara Tunnel)

Does it have to be this way?  Is there any way to have reasonably open discussion, but in a closed sphere?  I don't think so, since all communication has to be decrypted to be read, and then this can be stored in a 10,000 email inbox by your typical busy power-person.  If the US goes completely private-verbal-channel, then we are doomed!

You can think of technology ideas - closed tablet viewers with no storage - custom encryption to each recipient, etc.  Any suggestions?

Tiny scratches caused Pt. Lepreau calandria tubes to fail


It is the first refurbishment of a Candu-6 reactor but the procedure to polish the ends of the tubes was developed during the refurbishment of a Candu-6 reactor in Wolsong, South Korea. That project started about a year after the New Brunswick refurbishment but is now further ahead.

It was the Koreans who figured this out!  With my new nuclear design company for Ontario, I'm throwing out all those old Canadians, and bringing in Koreans!  :)   *

* for the unionized humour-impaired types, please note that nobody pays any attention to me, and you shouldn't either.

Toronto Living - Going to the garbage dump

This is just a narration to help anyone in a similar boat.

Our neck of the woods has gone to bin pickup.  These are giant plastic buckets that don't fit anywhere, so if you ever are designing a new house, design around these things!  Well my super-giant recycling bin is always full because they only pick that up every other week.  Recently, I've been ordering the presents over the internet, and filling up with packaging material.  They used to pick up extra recycling in clear bags, they even say so on their web site.  But they don't do that anymore!

Two collections in a row, I dutifully took out all the bags, and they metaphorically spat on them.  I emailed 311-Toronto, but I couldn't wait.  Thank goodness my son borrowed the van on the weekend and took out all the seats without replacing them (grumble, grumble).  I piled in all my bags, and a few extra garbage bags.

Went off to the Ingram transfer station, got lost once, not very good signs.  When you go in, it's like the American border, you have to wait for a red light, and go on a scale.  Naturally, I screwed it up, and had to back all the way off the scale.  Then I gave a $10 deposit.  I entered the big stinky building,  blleeccchhh.  After more conversations, I just threw the stuff out on a big pile.  Afterwards, I had to go on the out-going scale, and got $5 back!  I'm drinking Pomegranate tea and my nose memory still isn't clearing!  Shoved a Bounce sheet up my nose.  NOT WORKING!

After I came back, 311 came through and said they would book an extra pickup for tomorrow.  Sorry, I said --I've had my life experience...

Ontario Varsity Water Polo - OUA Allstars

Yeah the girls!  Wish I could list everybody's name, but maybe that's an invasion of privacy!  (Hint: daughter on right)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Water Polo in Canada

I just came back from a weekend of Ontario University water polo.  With the women, it was Carleton, U of T, and McMaster.  After years in the audience (which makes me an expert!), I still have a feeling of sadness.  This is no reflection to the people running water polo things, but the whole thing hits me as very small-minded and parochial.  Countless people will do anything to get their small corner to win, to the detriment of the sport.  So, good luck to them, may they always do things as they see fit!   :(  (They are very defensive.)

Fun Earthquake Preparation - Ontario Earthquake


When the magnitude 5.0 event actually happened at 1:41 p.m., those best laid plans fell apart.

The Earthquakes Canada website crashed within minutes. So did phone lines to the government seismologists. (The Government Operations Centre, a federal nerve centre for disasters, was reduced to regurgitating news lifted from media websites.)

Looks like we got the Canadian version of a Wikileaks release!

This has happened before.  They centralize everything, and it all comes in like a big sewer flood!  The system always crashes.  Then they bump it up 10% and say it will never happen again.  When the earthquake happened, I got all my information from Twitter, and the US site.  My blog went up to 10,000 hits!  When we have our Toronto earthquake expect some real fun!  :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Zealand Earthquake Equivalent to M7.8 in Low Frequency Seismic


 "We've known for quite a long time that there's stirrings under a placid surface," she said.

I think this will go down as the most complex rupture of all times.  This is what I've always said, and this is what they are saying now.  Although M7.8 in low frequency (non-damaging) it was only an M6.0 (Parkfield) in generating damaging Peak Ground Velocity (PGV).  As they say here, this had to come from a spaghetti mess of fractures.  I wish they would have had borehole accelerometers.

In comparison, many M7's are 'clean', in that they are a simple rupture of a smooth fault.  As mentioned in my popular 'Kobe Earthquake' article, this can produce horrendously high PGV's that will knock anything down.

The earthquakes that we can expect around my neck of the woods will be 'clean punchers'.  They are characterized by a relatively flat b-curve, which means not a lot of warning.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Ontario can actually build nuclear plants

This will never be followed, but is my little Christmas present to the poor beleaguered people of Ontario.

Establish the Ontario Nuclear Design Corporation.  This will resemble the old Ontario Hydro as I once knew it.  Hire some smart people at the top.  The old company used to have a smart guy, but there was such a public outcry that they were paying him more than a useless Ehealth drone, that he quit and packed off to the States for more money.

As such, this company will have minimal political interference, and can pay the market rate for brightness.  No unions!  It will be located in downtown Toronto, not a depressing truck yard in Pickering!  The main goal of the company is to jam 2000 MW into the Darlington postage stamp site.  It has several choices.

It can take the AECL Maple II design and try to fix it.  It can take the Westinghouse AP1000 plans, and jam two plants together.  Or it can take the Darlington design and shake all the silliness out of it, such as the vacuum building, and fix the goddang fuel tubes so they aren't a Water Laser.

The end result will be a design, and enough talent to supervise the construction.  Then you can deal with the political patronage, the mafia, and the unions.  Such is life, and these things will make it twice as expensive as it should be, but should compare with the industry average.  :)

Ontario to pour billions into imaginary ACR1000's


The energy plan specifically calls for the refurbishment of 10,000 megawatts (MW) of nuclear generation and the new construction of 2,000 MWs at Darlington to maintain an overall capacity of 12,000 MW, roughly half the province's supply of electricity.

Yeah, it's finally happening!  I can work again, for surely they'll want to know something about earthquakes?  :)

Maybe not, because the happy guys in Ottawa don't care...

Notice that they are still trying to jam 2000 MW on the Darlington postage stamp.  That can only mean the incredible power density (per sq ft) of the Maple II, also known as twin ACR1000's.  You could only get one AP1000 on that site.

Man, I really need an earthquake right now.....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ontario 'Up Front' with energy costs but not Niagara Tunnel


They will lay everything on the table.  But the fiasco of the Niagara Tunnel will be ignored.  Ever since they had that roof collapse, it has been gold-plated everything.  The curves were sharpened to get through it quicker.  All of this has a cost.  I find it interesting that a billion dollars borrowed from one hand is going to pay down the hydro costs of another, yet my estimate it that we're down a few billion on this project.

Maybe I'm wrong?  They could always open their books.......

Another California Earthquake Simulation


Wow, do you know they burn the midnight supercomputer oil just to run these things?  The big basins stay red the longest, and you do notice some directivity.  I can't help feel that they are overshooting the actual knowledge of basic physics, to spend so much time on these.  What do they really learn?  Is it just an excuse to have supercomputers that beat the Chinese?

Linux and the iPod Touch

When you had a lot of kids grow up in the house you find a lot of old ipods stuck in the corners.  We just completed a huge cleanout of kid junk in the house, and I found 2 ipods.  There was a very old ipod 30g which didn't power up at all, and an ipod touch.  I wanted to use it for some portable music on a free-standing speaker that just fit that ubiquitous ipod connector.

I had dipped into this before, and found the ipod touch had introduced a whole new encryption that Linux couldn't break at the time.  But now it has!  It was actually remarkably easy, involving some googlyizing, but Debian had all the components ready to download.  I could then use 'ifuse' and 'gtkpod' to wipe out the horrible rap music of my son, and put in Christmas music.  Of course, if there are encrypted itunes songs, then you can't really do much with them.  Such is the fun of drm!

In the end I don't really know what I did, since I went to a lot of web sites, installed a lot of stuff, and rebooted a few times before everything worked.  It really needs some simple instructions.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Contaminated steam generators - last kick at the can


This is funny.  I love how they abuse the English language!  1600 tons of waste, and 90% of it pure plutonium.  But if they let this through, there will be millions of tons, and nobody will want to fish in these lakes (and not because of the killer jumping carp!).

Please, save your juice for the important things, like the radioactive waste storage on top of an active fault!  Perhaps it is best to send everything to Sweden.  :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hamilton-Burlington, Ontario Fault Revisted

In the early days of my blog, I was very intense about our very own Hamilton-Burlington fault.   It was like going against global gorming!  Now, that I'm calm, I just hope they don't drill and inject for shale gas!

This started with a series of emails from a house owner in Burlington.  I said that if you are on soft ground, and felt the recent Ontario earthquake strongly, then get an earthquake rider on the house.  I estimate $20K damage over 20 years (drywall, furnishings, windows).  Today, instead of ranting, I'll go over an interesting old paper in the BSSA.  Text copy in italics, interspersed with my comments.

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America; October 2004; v. 94; no. 5; p. 1902-1918; DOI: 10.1785/012003007
© 2004 Seismological Society of America
Seismicity of the Southern Great Lakes: Revised Earthquake Hypocenters and Possible Tectonic Controls
Savka Dineva, David Eaton and Robert Mereu

Abstract (extract)

Three preliminary focal mechanisms of earthquakes with magnitudes mN 3.1 to 3.8 show unusual normal faulting, with nodal planes in almost the same direction as the magnetic trends, N42°E-N52°E. Proximity of the earthquake clusters to large bodies of water, coupled with colinearity with magnetic anomaly trends, suggests that both surface water and pre-existing basement structures may play significant roles in controlling intraplate seismicity in the southern Great Lakes region.

Historical seismicity to 1990, locations are weighted to population centres.

Tectonic Map, note Grenville Fault Zone goes right by the Bruce Underground Nuclear Waste Facility

B-curve.  The big earthquakes are Cleveland, but fit right in the pattern.  

The b-curve shows our odds of getting a 'big one'.  Note that if we go to 1 in 100, or 1 in 1000, we are going quite big!  This curve would clip (go vertical) at M7, due to the 30km length of the Ham-Burl fault.

Beach balls showing alignment with fault.  

Cross-sections showing depth.

Their conclusions are rather weasely, like somebody finding evidence that the sun is more important than CO2 for global climate.  But these last figures tell all.  Note that there is some depth to the Hamilton fault, but shallower as you go into Buffalo.  This shows a perfect relationship between causative fault, and surrounding stress disturbance.  All of this is perfect for predicting a likely large earthquake.  When it happens, don't say we didn't warn you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hope for AECL


Industry observers have speculated some potential buyers of AECL might only be interested in servicing existing Candu reactors, a business model that would ultimately see the AECL technology fade away.

“We do require the federal government to participate as an investor,” Day said, but insisted that private investors would put up a “substantial majority” of the new company’s capital going forward.

He wants to take the design of existing large Candu reactors like the ones now in service at Ontario’s Darlington nuclear station, then enhance and develop it in new-build reactors going forward.

There goes the ACR1000!  Don't you feel that the bidders are starting to resemble the bottom half of the Toronto mayor candidate list?

Monday, November 15, 2010

California earthquake probabililties

Another fine picture from the new SRL.  This shows the probability of a sizable earthquake before my 88th birthday!

The Hayward fault looks hot!

Great earthquakes are back!

So, I'm looking through the new SRL, and I see this.  It's a pretty graph.  Looks like we had a bit of a holiday for the last 30 years, which has now ended.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Port Hope Lashes Back!


Bully for them!  Let's keep Port Hope a total backwater!  Keep the foreigners out!

My thought is that they should just leave that radioactive dirt there.  They don't need any foreign dirt!  Radioactivity is good for you.  Think of all the natural hotspots of the world, and see how healthy the people are.  It cleans out cancer.  Go to Radium Springs!

***Note that this is not sarcasm, but parody.  I always hope that Hope embraces its radioactivity, and becomes a leading nuclear research centre where we finally put the left-over nuclear bits in a dry underground facility that then heats the place!  I guarantee you that everybody will be extremely healthy, since money is the number one determinant of health, and it will be the most monitored place in the world.....

China Earthquake Building

Video Link

Blah, blah, this building went up in 6 days.  The video is fascinating.  Look at the steel bracing!

These are more like energy-absorbing elements, rather than stiff diagonal bracing.  That must have been fun to analyze!  Of course, when there's an earthquake these things will all be buried in drywall, and impossible to replace.  Might as well just take down the whole building.

To do it in 6 days, you have to be sure of the weather, and start the drywall without weatherproofing.  This is where they started the cladding.


I'm assuming that because we always clad those things in concrete for the jet planes.  So, this hotel is off my list, I'm not schlumping my tired body up 15 floors, even if there were a staircase.  :)

Nuclear Accident Analysis


Inspectors this fall focused on Westinghouse's crash analysis. Their report identified several concerns, including what inspectors deemed a failure to adaquately consider the effects of an airline strike that hits an annex building, penetrates another structure and heads toward an equipment hatch.

When I was with the old company we were constantly plagued by the Nuclear Safety Department thinking up  some new whacko accident scenario.  No probability was too small!

So now it's the airplane thing.  It's not enough to think of a general hit, it has to thread it's way through buildings and into a fully open equipment hatch! (which are hardly ever open).  And do we think we'll have new nuclear soon?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Battle of the Naked Scanners


This is a very interesting battle, and even gets my 'Quote of the Week' award!  All our 'safe dose' regulations have basically been derived from background radiation (cosmic rays), and the more intense doses of radiation workers.  So, we know the amount of dose that doesn't bother anybody, and can even compare an intense dose to some fraction of a cigarette. I, myself, am a big fan of the rising 'Radiation is good for you' school of thought! (8 million years of evolution can't be wrong!)

So, we have these scientists pulling a rabbit of of the hat.  They just got together and said that 'non-penetrating' radiation is worse per dose than hot gamma rays because it all stops at the skin.  Makes a good story!

Oh, but I have to end with my quote award:

The Office of Science and Technology responded this week to the scientists' letter, saying the scanners have been "tested extensively" by US government agencies and were found to meet safety standards.

Doesn't that just give you the tingles?

Nuclear Waste - Finland only wants 100,000 years


Look at that nice drippy rock!  And only going 420m, it seems like a dream to build.  As they said here, the US wants a million years, and they're never getting that, so that means the waste will rust along rivers forever!

In Canada nothing happens.  Just look at how well the underground waste repository at Bruce is progressing!  (NOT!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Maybe no big earthquake for BC


Still, everybody is going to get wet!  But really, these 'megaquakes' don't really put out much ground motion, since they rupture rather slowly.  Decent construction can handle that.  It's just that all those luxury condos might get their bottom floors wet!  So, if I were a zillionaire and could actually buy something in Vancouver on the sea, I would check the foundation (better be rock!), and I would go up a few storeys.  Maybe not the top, since I think that's going to throw around a few people!

Linux and the 1TB Drive

OMG!  I just installed a 1tb hard disk!  This takes me way back when I was doing Unix administration, and first contaminating the old company with Usenet.  The concept of a 1tb database was mind-boggling!  We thought of huge disk farms and Oracle.  I think I was working with 1g drives or smaller.

But 1tb drives are commodity now.  I just zipped through the Internetz and ordered it.  Then I put it my machine to replace a 120G drive (pooey!).  Dang, don't forget to zap the old fstab!!

fdisk took care of it, but it was confusing, since this is very large, and wants to be a logical drive.  It broke it up into sdc1 and sdc5.  The first one is some phoney overhead, and the second is what you format.  I used ext4 since it is a higher number than ext3 :)   I hear it has some neat features for large drives, but who cares?

When you finally redo fstab and get it all working, it seems to cut down to 900G, but what the heck?  You can fine-tune to eke out a few more gbytes.

I'm using this for backups of video and pictures.  You just don't get anywhere with cd's and dvd's anymore!

Ontario up a Nuclear Creek


Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty warned Ottawa back in June that its effort to sell Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. could scuttle a provincial proposal to buy new reactors from the company, a deal that would boost the long-term value of the federally owned corporation.

I'm not saying anything, it would just be nasty (something about getting fingers out), and that's not good for me....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Curiosity Kills the Cat

We had a wonderful time at my son's Master of Engineering convocation.  Seen here

So, the lady giving the speech is very famous, and she had just visited top universities in Shanghai, and Cairo.  All the students were very bright, but the Chinese students didn't question anything, and the Cairo students were very pessimistic.  All wanted out.

My son has a great job where he enjoys intellectual freedom.  Other people in the place are only confined by their blinkers.  Someone was manually converting files in a tedious manner, and he said "Let's Google it" and quickly found a script that did a week's worth of work in 10 minutes.  They were glad, but you don't want to be that brilliant guy in the office who does all this without credit.  Soon, they step on you!  Still, he is in the Age of Innocence.

I was that guy when I first joined the old company.  I never did anything tedious, always found a better way.  When other people were doing things 'stupidly', I stepped in and increased the productivity ten fold.  It was great, and we were building things.  Then came the thought crimes.  I couldn't mention 'stupidity' in another department, so I constructed a 'thought box'.  I just stayed in my own box.

We stopped building, and the thought crimes increased.  Couldn't increase somebody's productivity because it made them look bad.  Increasing productivity ten fold put somebody out of work!  Then they collapsed my box to zero.  Couldn't look at the internet because it was evil.  Couldn't go for a certain solution because it was a thought crime.  I was always getting into trouble because my concept of the box was bigger than their concept!

In Canada, we are run by big monopolies that declare everything (internally) a thought crime.  Naturally, new ideas must be confined to a very narrow band of acceptability.  Rewards are given to ideas that one would think would be part of their job!

To the new graduates, I suggest staying out of the confines of thought crime (although they pay very well).  And as that lady said, it is better to travel.  Expand your mind for at least a few years, before 'reality' sets in.

Port Hope Cursed by Celebrities


Calling Port Hope a “tragedy,” Caldicott says people should never be exposed to radioactive material. Even so-called low-level radiation causes high-level doses when it gets inside the body and turns cells cancerous in a “silent process” that takes five to 60 years, she says.

Yeah, a zero-tolerance jet-setter!  She probably sucks in more radioactivity than any Hoper!  All that radioactivity (jet-setting, mountain living, field ploughing) is probably equivalent to half a cigarette on every Sunday.

Only Seedy People Want AECL


Both prospective buyers are offering far less than what Ottawa believes the company to be worth, based on a confidential valuation provided by Wall Street investment firm Rothschild Inc.

And neither is willing to make a commitment to finance the completion of AECL’s Advanced Candu Reactor – known as ACR-1000 – technology the company is relying on to compete in both foreign and domestic markets.

These companies probably just want to break it up.  Poor Ottawa, they had a dream that some big rich nuclear company such as Westinghouse would see the error of their ways and buy AECL to push the Maple-2 (ACR1000).

This is sad.

Arkansas Earthquake Meeting


Very interesting, the downside of shale gas drilling.  They decided to get rid of all that radioactive water by injecting it deep into the tail end of the giant New Madrid fault mechanism.  This is probably Not a Good Thing!

With all the shale gas work going on, I expect more of this in the future.

Monday, November 8, 2010

South Carolina does some earthquake preparation


A long time ago I used to write scientific papers and went to conferences.  These were my glory years in the old company.  :)  I went to Charleston for a conference, and looked at all the old buildings that survived their big earthquake of 1886.  I looked at all the new construction, and it didn't look like they gave a hoot about earthquakes!  Now, they are holding school drills.  Very nice, more than Toronto.

The source zone at Summerville really looks like one of my 'Growing New Madrid' zones.  I wish they could afford to put decent seismometers on it.  When will it produce the next big earthquake?

Phone Spam

I seem to be home a lot, so I answer the phone.  It is interesting to see how the phone scam business is evolving with technology.  It used to be that some poor underpaid local schnook called and tried to sell me something.  I always listened for a few seconds, and said I wasn't interested and hung up.  You could always here them screaming 'Wait!'.  *

Then technology moved on.  The past year or so, we've had automatic war dialers.  The defining point here was that you always said 'Hello' twice, before some hideous recording started.  I hang up whenever there is a delay.  Some delays are noisy, and some are absolutely dead quiet.  Then, a few months ago, this weird one started where you heard a phone ringing, and then somebody picked up and said 'Hello?".  Damn, they're calling me!

Most of these calls are from India.  I can tell because the sound quality is terrible, and there is horrendous cross-talk.  Really, what's it to them if I hang up?  I sometimes let them try to pronounce my name, if I'm slow on the reflexes!  I even hang up on calls from India from "Bell Canada".  They're always trying to sell me crap I don't need, and lately I've been able to cut some services from them.  Yeah!

This past few weeks, I've been getting calls from fine young ladies, who say perfectly "I'm sorry, I dialed a wrong number."  It used to be that I asked them what number they were trying to dial, but these ladies are very sure of themselves, and hang up instantly (usually takes a second of babbling to realize it).  What scam is this?  Are they checking my phone number because I always hang up on everybody?  I can't wait to see!

* I remember a thread one where people were bitching about these phone calls, and doing nasty things like hanging up.  There was always a reply "Oh, think of the poor people making these calls!"  Now, with everything automated and coming from India, I won't get a bleeding-heart reply.  :)

Nuclear plant transformer explosion - Indian Point


I love transformer explosions!  Not that I would like to be near one, but the whole 'thang' surrounding transformers, maintenance, etc.  Transformers are the first thing to blow in earthquakes.  Most likely they tend to catch fire, and require huge dousing systems, and the oil is all washed into the lake.  I don't know if this one just blew to smithereens, without a fire.  Then the oil is just scattered to the four winds without dousing.  :)

In the old company, the maintenance on transformers was crap.  I was constantly surprised that they just didn't  blow up on their own.  Their seismic robustness was near zero, so we can expect transformer fires and explosions with the scenario earthquake.  Transformers, block walls, and wobbly pressure tubes are the main seismic susceptibility for these plants.  None of which will lead to anything dramatic, but they won't be back up very soon.  If I were King of the World, I would like to harden up Darlington so it can stay up during an earthquake, but soon the whole thing is going to be ripped up anyway!  :)

Cinderblock Walls and Earthquakes


So here we have a 4 storey single thickness block wall.  You would think they would be banned in earthquake country.

In some of the nuclear plants we have a boatload of these 'Handyman Specials', which were block walls thrown in after the main construction.  In Pickering A, we were forced to jack them up with steel, because of the seismic checking system we used.  The other plants have never used this system.

That's one of the reasons that my favourite scenario earthquake, which is an M6ish earthquake in Hamilton will shut down all the nuclear plants.  They will be a bitch to start up again, especially with block wall damage.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

And now for something completely different...

Cost, time overruns on Bruce refurbishments not cause for concern for Darlington, says ministry


No comment.

More New Zealand Earthquake Damage Revealed


"People are calling us, saying that they had always felt like there was something in the house, but since the earthquake it had become more intense," he said.

Ah, but will the insurance pay?

Retrofit a Scenic Bridge

Wow, would that thing go in an earthquake!  Being California, this bridge is constantly jammed with cars.  They are going to have fun retrofitting it.  

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wobbly California Hospitals


This is a very interesting article.  There is a real question of what to do with facilities that are serving a vital function, but yet will fall down in a breeze!  :)   The US always has this little problem of letting the inner cities rot, so a lot of the problem is there.  Nearly all the inner cities would do badly in an earthquake.

California is in debt up to its eyeballs, so its options are limited.  We'll just wait and see, shall we?

Ice in Iceland begins to melt


REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Torrents of water are pouring from a glacier that sits atop Iceland's most active volcano, an indication that the mountain is growing hotter and may be about to erupt, scientists said Monday.
The flood that began Thursday at the Grimsvotn volcano is similar to one in 2004 that lasted five days and ended with an eruption that disrupted European air traffic, University of Iceland geophysicist Pall Einarsson said.

I find it interesting that the ice begins to melt without a seismic signal.  But this is probably due to the fact that the volcano is very isolated and under a lot of ice.  That means they probably can't pick up any earthquake under an M3.  If somehow they had borehole seismometers right at the site, I'm sure there would be a lot of 1's and 2's.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Volcano Merapi Gets Serious


The Volcano Mitigation and Geological Disaster Agency warned of worse in store as magma pushed towards the surface from depths of 6-8km, compared with a maximum 2km deep when the mountain previously erupted in 2006.

"This is the scenario I dislike the most, because the deepest magma is pushing up now," said the agency's chief, Surono. "The eruptions haven't stopped, the tremors are getting stronger and one big explosion could be the result. I've never seen it act like this. We don't know what to expect."

Now, if they followed the Geofish theory of "Rock Mechanics Controls Everything, Even Volcanoes', then they would know what to expect.  Basically, for Reflux Volcanoes, everything depends on the strength of the surrounding rock forming the 'container'.  When the volcano spews the first time, the pressure drops in the magma chamber.  This drop can only happen by the surrounding rock taking the stress!  Volcanologists don't do math!

So, provided the magma chamber doesn't have a direct tap to the underworld (and I think that only happens when it is first formed')  then everything is happy-happy as long as the rock holds up.  Well, it doesn't!  The same thing happens as in my theory for earthquakes, the rain makes a hash of rock strength, and it slowly fails.  In the picture, there may be just a small failure, or it may be large.  It follows the same fractal law as earthquakes.  If you could map this failure and sinking, you would know things.

So, now it looks like it's going to be a big one!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hauling Out the Snowblower

In Canada, this is time for "The Great Turnover", which is when we pack away the lawnmower, and bring out the snowblower.  I have a small spot in the shed for them, so I have to make sure of the exact timing.  It would be horrible if we had a warm spell and the grass started growing!  No worries this year, since the forecast looks miserably cold for the next week or two.

Thank God for gas stabilizer!  I just throw it in the lawnmower, and run it for 5 minutes.  This lazy method has always worked for me!  For the snowblower, I just change the oil, since in Toronto I'm sure I'm using 1% of the designed duty cycle for these things.  I always get new gas at the turnover, winter and spring, since this is the best thing for easy starts.  If I have extra old gas, it just goes in the car.  This year, the lawn mowing was ridiculous and I had no extra gas.

NRU to close in 2016 if we're lucky


“I think it is clear that NRU will close almost certainly in 2016 and there is a risk of the Petten reactor closing soon after that … We are not clear where the capacity is ultimately going to come from,” says Alexander J. McEwan, MD, professor and division director, division of oncologic imaging, department of oncology at University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

This was an interesting article.  Personally, I don't think the rusty bucket can live that long, but it is still a very short time to plan alternatives.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bruce rehab only $1 billion over


Well, that's nothing for projects in this neck of the woods?  Why bother coming up with an estimate in the first place?  We should just come up with some maximum 'worth it' number.  Then we would exceed that!  :)

Ontario E-Health Still Lives!


Yeah, billions made no difference!  This was the situation before e-health, and remains afterward.  Doctor offices are using their own, extremely expensive software, from companies that they, themselves, own.  Thus, huge amounts of money go to their investments.  None of it works together, and there is no central record.  This maximizes doctor revenue, and I can't see it changed anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Now, Seismic surveys are blamed for killing clams!


Well, I think it's funny....

A long time ago, the US Navy conducted some super-powerful sonar tests that were equivalent of exploding huge bombs underwater.  Some whales turned up dead somewhere.

Ever since then, low-power seismic exploration work has been tarred with the same brush, especially if it coincides with some other interest, such as stopping oil companies, or demanding money.  Do you know that some whales use powerful sonic blasts to stun their prey?  Ironic, isn't it?

There has been a lot of seismic work, and it does not have the effects of dynamite fishing.  These clams were grossly over-fished and trying to recover.  Devastated stocks have all sorts of problems coming back, mainly because of the poor genetic pool.  Damn fishermen..

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Special

Ok, here's a last minute tip for those pumpkins.  We buy these pumpkins on the last trip to the cottage, and they are pretty for the fall.  Now, on Halloween, we want to carve them.  All of a sudden our kids run away!  Last year we managed to trap and blackmail two of them!  They all whine -- oh I don't like the gunky insides!  Whoops, I have a drunken party to go to!

So now I was stuck with the damn pumpkins.  So this is the great suggestion from a friend.  Charge up your cordless drill and stick on a 1/4 inch drill.  Look at your pumpkin and rotor off the bottom at high speed.  Don't touch the top.  Take the big spoon and goop things out the bottom.  Take your pumpkin face off the internet and quickly draw it.  Use the drill as a router and zoom through the pattern at lightning speed.  Trim the edges.  Place your pumpkin on a battery candle.  Woo wooo!

Water polo this weekend and I got great video.  Here's the first quarter, and there's more on the site.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Linux and borrowing library ebooks

I think for all of us our XP is dying on the old machines.  There are so many exploits out there, that there is no defense.  So, the rich people can jump on the ms upgrade treadmill, but some of us want to use our old hardware, since it is perfectly good for the internet.

The only trouble with desktop Linux is that every stinking utility out there is for xp!  You buy any device and it only communicates to a computer through windows.  Thus, I maintained an xp machine to the very end.

But you can have your Linux and xp too!  Linux has an emulator called Wine.  On my 64 bit Athlon x2, it runs faster than xp ever did!  Nearly every xp utility runs on it, and only games are a pain, since they always accessed the deep processor instructions.

Now, my major problem was to keep borrowing ebooks from the Toronto library.  I want them to increase their collection, so I use it.  The only problem is that publishers want to stick to useless Digital rights management (DRM), and you can only use this on Windows, since they are closed binaries.  So, on first sight, you are screwed!

But fire up Wine, and start installing windows programs.  You need Firefox for a browser, Adobe Reader and Digital Editions (DE) for the books.  Use Winetricks to install the gecko engine for deep IE features that the Adobe needs.  Now, the trick is to stay totally within Wine when you are doing this.  You go to the library with your wine firefox, and you get your book.  This downloads a small text file with the extension .acsm.  These are just instructions for DE.  Firefox shows the file, and it opens automatically with DE.  Now you can read the book, just like you were a slave to ms!

This was the most difficult part, for you can't download the acsm file using Linux, since you get the whole Unix-Dos text file incompatibility thing.  For those that want to download to their reader (for me Sony PRS700), you are again screwed since DE can't handle the DRM crap right to the sony.  You have to do something Linuxy!  I don't want to tell, but it's quite simple, involving installing Python 2.7 on wine, installing the xp binary for Pycrypto, and running 2 magic 'inept' scripts to 'D-DRM' the epub file.  Then just use your standard sony usb disk connection to put it in the 'books' folder.  Nobody's out of pocket since you are just reading the book!  Don't put the clean epub on the internet, since I like it for authors to eat and write new stuff!  and erase the book after the lending period.

The principle of the drm is fascinating in its stupidity.  DE requires you to 'register' with your email and password.  You are only allowed to do this on 6 machines (or OS versions), and if you screwed up a lot, you can't read old books you bought.  From this registration, DE creates a powerful RSA encryption key, which on the surface seems unbreakable.  It communicates with the library, which pays big bucks for a DE server.  But, the program must have the ability to store the key, and de-en-crypt.  This is held sloppily, and the scripts extract it.

When you buy books, the same drm works, and you can lose the key, so you can't access them anymore, even though you paid for it!  So, I would always clean the epub for bought books for archival purpose, and you can put them on any reader, since the epub standard is common and open.