Sunday, August 31, 2008

Reclaiming acid waste

This is interesting. If you've ever been around Sudbury, you are amazed by the Martian moonscape land all around. This is land that has been killed by all the acid from the big smelter. Now they have big airplanes dumping limestone and grass seeds, and it appears to work. Of course, I don't think your umbrella will hold up if you're right under a dump zone!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hamilton has $1B infrastructure deficit

I wonder how they calculate these things? If you take into account that Hamilton is right in the heart of Ontario earthquake country then the true risk-adjusted deficit is probably much higher.

Science Insurance

I stole this neat graphic from Science Notes, who in turn got it from somebody else.

When you think about it, a scientist is the last person you want in an emergency. This is the realm of the verbalizers, and shouters, power people, and walkie-talkie pushers. Tote that barge! Lift that bale! These people love a crisis, and prefer lurching from disaster to disaster.

Science Insurance is what you pay before the crisis, to either eliminate it, or reduce the impact. It's totally up to the power-people as to whether they want to pay this insurance, or not. For most of my career, they chose to pay, and I helped avoid many a potential disaster. But avoided disasters have no value, and soon, everybody decides not to pay their Science Insurance. And so, for the old company, when they run into a future disaster, such as a blown-up transformer, rock squeeze destroying the tunnel lining for Niagara, or finding that seismic issues will delay the new reactors, then it's too late. I can't do anything for them!

That's probably why I have my depressions. My mind is full of potential disasters, and they are constantly lurching towards them. When it happens, they just let things blow, kill a few people, and clean up afterward. They people in charge thrive on the excitement, since it validates their lives. :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Earthquakes pop off near Vancouver

This really isn't a big story, since earthquakes happen in this zone all the time. I don't think it adds more to the debate on Vancouver. Since the M9 will be well offshore, it's more a matter of the tsunami, and the foundations for the buildings.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

AECL to the rescue!

AECL will turn on the burners and provide the needed extra isotopes. I am the only person in the world who is somewhat uneasy....

No Wind, No Power

I found this to be a glimpse of our future, with wind power. When the wind stops everywhere, there is no power. How can standby power be arranged to fit in with wind? I don't know.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gridlocked Grid Blocks More Bat Beaters

Ha, it has come to this! When it's windy all those flying flayers want to choke up a grid that hasn't changed in 100 years. Now they're complaining! Time to build more lines through scenic parkland!

Scapegoat Scaped

The sad story of the Davis-Besse scapegoat draws to a close. He was at the lowest level of management, where the good scapegoats are to be found, since nobody cares about them. It's far harder to try and scape a worker, since they have unions, and other workers will rally around them. Better to go after hated management.

More interesting is the fine art of setting up the scapegoat. Management doesn't have any protection, so when the big whigs say "Lie, or we'll kill you.", they can really do it. In this case, there were millions of dollars at stake, in running things a bit longer. Did the goat get these millions of dollars? I think not.

That's why everything done in management is verbal. There's always a lot of screaming and intimidation. The abusers are themselves abused. I haven't seen too many of these guys live to a ripe old age.

Kate steals a volcano!

I just had to put this article in, since it is related to geology. Umm, nice volcano ash for your hair!

The Last Story Teller

Something came up the other day, and I realized that I'm the last keeper of the geotechnical oral history of the old company. Nothing was ever documented, and I acquired my knowledge by long drives, and drill-watching with the really old (and dead) guys. This knowledge has always got me into trouble, as I tend to be a Casandra:

The rock under St. David's Gorge is going to be terrible!
The soil around Pickering is crap!
You can't use the old seismic assumptions to build a new plant!

It's this last one that may bring about another delay in the nuclear bidding. I wish them luck, but Ontario has placed the full burden of seismic approval on the vendors, and these guys don't know anything about the geotechnical or seismic environment. I know it all!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cattle enjoy the northern view

Which of course is the rear-end of another cow! But they are now saying most cattle may have a magnetic preference. I find this is somewhat geological, and it's a neat observation. What if a potential earthquake starts to affect the magnetic field? Would the cows get upset stomachs? Why do an aeromagnetic survey, when you could just look at cows? Their direction would flow around iron ore deposits!

Big Becky Better Boot It!

They're trying to kick it up a notch! This, of course, is a recipe for disaster. Adding to the mix is the fact that they are going to shorten some curves to make up for lost time. Was there a reason for the bigger radii in the first place? Could it have something to do with rock squeeze and the machine binding? This is probably all lost in the mists of time, so tighten up those curves, damn the torpedoes, and full speed ahead!


We mark the 125th anniversary of the big boom! Although this spot won't boom again for another 1000 years, there must be other potential areas. Can we identify them? Most likely not, since many volcanoes are unmonitored, and we probably don't know what we're looking for. For example, Chaiten has turned out to have a huge amount of energy, and what if it all went at once?

Birdy-Whirlies are also Bat Bashers!

Once again, I have dredged something up about killer windmills! I really hate those things, most of the summer there's no wind, and then these things all whip up on a cool breezy day like today, when nobody wants the power! Have you seen all the giant turbine blades and towers going down the 401, in monster lane-blocking trucks?

Now, I find they are killing my cute little bats! These guys have it tough enough with that fuzzy nose disease going around. I usually have a few bats staying at the cottage, although I haven't heard much from them this summer. Maybe they got killed by a windmill!

And don't tell me they don't find many dead things around the windmills! They've got legions of trained cats, ready to swallow any evidence! I'm waiting to see one of Science Notes cat pictures showing a cat with a full mouth saying "Evidenz, what evidenz?"

(Clicking will make me happy again)

M6.3 hits China again

This just in, but there is bound to be damage in this mountainous terrain. As I've said before, China and Japan are in for 'interesting times', due to the strain disturbance of the 2004 M9.

Bell mucks up security

The Bell Canada billing system has to be run by Redmond. It is soooo slow! And today, it totally mucked up! It was showing both my name (since I was logged on), and another person's name. For the sake of drama, I won't tell who's bill I eventually saw, since this sort of thing is not supposed to happen.

Look for the strange name on the bottom! It's very interesting, if I just got my bill, then the whole thing gets dismissed 'as nothing'. If I got her bill, then there is a big scandal, and the usual 'It will never happen again!". (I got my bill).

This reminds me of my famous 'MBANX' incident, which happen many years ago, and is still on the Internet. Seems the Bank of Montreal wanted to get 'cool', and was calling their on-line banking mbanx. There was talk of the whole thing becoming mbanx. Until I came along, and destroyed the whole thing!

The old company had a brilliant computer security guy that I knew, and he had set up the new firewall. It was a new thing that everybody going through the firewall had their IP translated to one IP (all firewalls do that now). Well, poor old mbanx wasn't ready for that trick. We were getting people getting into other people's accounts! I, of course, was a big blabber, and made a small note of it in a computer security mailing list.

Ha, ha! The local newspaper actually read this, and splashed it! Down came the president on mbanx on our president! Once more Harold had to hide under a rock! The final dust settled, and mbanx stole away our computer security guy for a lot of money. They also dropped the name in shame, a huge financial loss. I didn't get any of this money, boo hoo!

Huge geology conference

There was a huge geology conference recently in Norway. I'll bet all the geology bloggers were there! I, of course, knew nothing about it, since it was in the summer.

This guy writes a very nice summary of it, and there are comments as well. Apparently, he is a big pusher of 'peak oil', which is the next big scare story, after global warming. It basically says that we've found most of the oil that exists, and now we're going downhill fast. In ten years we'll be fighting wars over oil.

Now, if you combine global warming with peak oil, we find there is a drastic drop in our ability to spew carbon in ten years. Thus, combined with the sun-spot crowd, we get horribly cold weather in ten years. It'll be perfect for skiers!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More flies on Indian Point

Well, I'm glad Lamont's press release got picked up by a few news outlets. Of course, the plant issues some ripe manure about 'able to take an M7'. Yeah, an M7 on the other side of the world! I love these things!

In reality, the only thing that could pop a nuclear plant is a close M6 or M7, with the plant right on the hanging wall, getting hit by the 'Fist of God' (like the Japan plant!). If you can assure that you are not that 'lucky' with your location, then your plant is immune from earthquakes. All the work that I had laid in over the years with the old company proves that point with Darlington (if only they'd use it!). Otherwise, they are dancing with that 'probabilistic seismic hazard' confusedness, and good luck with that!

Bruce Big Boom

More on the Big Boom at Bruce. I can't see it happening at the plant, because the noise would have spilled somebody's coffee on their lap, and they'd have to fill in forms.

It was most likely somebody fishing... with dynamite.

Great summer weekend!

I think that's a grand total of ..... ONE this summer! But who's counting.....

Friday, August 22, 2008

Google Knol is a failure

I just don't think they put enough creative energy into it. They ignored most of the suggestions made when people were interested. I would still love to know if anybody is reading it, but I can safely assume they aren't. There isn't even a Knol Blog! They just threw this baby over the wall and then ignored it. Well, it can join the large refuse pile of Google failures, but they keep trying, and I love them for it! On to the next big thing!

Canada moves well after the fact

In fact, I think Canada deserves the gold medal for the fastest response of closing the barn door, after the horse has gone. This reminds me of so much that went on in the nuclear plants, and general earthquake emergency response.

I remember when the Americans took over the old company for a short time. They had a great party time, and stole all the women. For a while I made myself known to them, and they loved me as long as I toed the line. One thing I told them was that we were the very best in Crisis Mode. We could instantly bring up a team, and pay everyone overtime. There were none better, and we did it a lot. Foolish Americans, they thought they could change this!

Eventually, I became their enemy and they tried to destroy me. For once I was glad I was in a Big Ugly Union, and only had to hide under a rock for a while, until their attention wandered to somebody else.

Main transformers don't last as long as they used to

PG&E had a big transformer fire the other day. As I've said before, I love to follow transformer stories. The article states that these huge beasts were expected to last 40 years, but they rarely last 20. This one was only 9 years old! Before they just zip in a new one, at 2 million dollars a pop, they are investigating the probably cause of the explosion. Perhaps it is a bad foundation?

Bruce Power Goes for the Gold

It brightens my day to see what Bruce Power is doing next. They love to push the frontiers of good practice! They are now involved with a proposed plant in Turkey.

Bruce Power, like all nuclear plant operators, loves to follow what I call the "Steroid Rule of Geology" -- if you don't do anything, then the public believes you are clean. This has helped some countries in the Olympics tremendously, and is also good for the NHL.

In fact, they are probably locating this Turkey plant near an ancient city destroyed by a monster earthquake. I hope they develop it as a tourist attraction, since I would love to go! Of course, Bruce Power knows that these old earthquakes are 'so yesterday', and have nothing to do with the modern world.

I understand the Philippines want to build a nuclear plant on an active volcano. My hope is that Bruce Power is right on this, to give me another happy day!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nuclear plant gets hammered by earthquake story

Oh why couldn't I do something like this! Good old Lynn Sykes has come out swinging, saying Indian Point Nuclear Plant is right on something ugly. And he gets a big press release, as well!

Bruce Nuclear Plant is on something ugly, but do I have that sort of pull? In fact, I think my ugly out-ulgies their ugly any old day! Anyway, I think the nuclear plants are reaping what they have sown over the last 20 years by not doing a speck of seismic research. They just sat pretty with their 'our plant can take anything' song and dance.

ps. I think Sykes et al are totally wrong, but that's not the point here.

pps. If their zones are actually as active as they say, then mine are worse!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Good Irish beer to be wiped out by earthquakes

I only know the name of this town from the beer, and apparently making this beer has made Mom Nature very angry! According to a reliable source, who was right 2 times out of a thousand predictions, earthquakes are going to wipe out this town, or maybe it's tornadoes? Whatever, drink up any Kilkenny you see lying around, since it won't be here any more!

Ah, if only I were in a pub with Kilkenny on draft, then I'd start believing this crap! The local townsfolk have rivers of the stuff, and so, they take this psychic very seriously indeed.

Linux blob sucks in talent

The Linux monster sucks in more talent than available. If you are young, go into this!

The article says they need computer administrators that were typical in 1988. That's me! I was a great computer admin in 1988. We had Sun systems, Novell networking, DEC minicomputers, and that pesky MS for word processing. I put it all together!

If nobody does any clicking on my blog, I want this job again! I know that this earthquake biz is a loser, as long as we don't have any earthquakes, and who can wait for that? You can offer me a job putting together a Linux system to push out MS. I'd love to take the screws to those guys! Of course, MS could pay me not to do it, like they're paying Novell to cause trouble with Red Hat. I also have a soft spot for Sun, who tries so hard not to be a loser! (L!!).

So, for my ideal job, I'd be the 'visionary' behind organizing a big Linux system, with some Sun servers thrown in, and getting MS mad! Of course, I'd want lots of money for myself, and lots of money to spend on toys! In fact, as a true uber-geek, the toy-money is more important! Of course, I'd keep a blog a called "Na-na MS!", with a logo of Jagger lips and tongue!

I remember the first Sun server I got came with seismic restraints! How cool is that?

Please send me your offers! I'll consider them as long as I don't have to work too hard, and I get to keep my noon snoozes.

Jamaica, a hotbed of sand thieves

This has something to do with geology, and I find it has a black humour element. In other words, I find it hilarious!

Police in Jamaica are using sand DNA samples to get to the 'bottom' of the empty sand beach issue. Although there are dump trucks zooming all over the place with stolen sand, they want to find this particular sand, since it belongs to a rich guy who has scattered money to get into pristine (formerly) land.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bigfoot a hoax

Yeah, all is right with the world, as this ridiculous hoax gets exposed. However, it turns out that money was paid, so we are assured that fools still roam the earth. Perhaps somebody should put them into a freezer?

Quebec soldiers on with nuclear

Quebec is extending the life of Gentilly 2, with a couple of billion dollars. I've always loved these guys! I could never understand how anybody could be so isolated, and still run a Candu station. They never talked to anybody, and we never talked to them. Their seismic monitoring was a secret known only to them and the GSC. While the rest of us were struggling with seismically qualifying old plants, they just did their own thing. Perhaps they weren't quite as isolated as New Brunswick, who didn't even show up on standards meetings, but I always thought they were close. Now, Quebec is retubing, and trying to get their fueling machine to work. I wish them the best of luck!

Nuke transformer fire in California

I love collecting articles on transformer fires. Normally, they aren't a big deal because a huge dousing system activates and puts the fire out in 14 minutes. Since this plant is by the sea, the zillion gallons of contaminated fluid just drifts out to Japan! Speaking of potential transformer burnings, I am very happy that my sinking transformer on Pickering Unit 7 will never be fired up again, because they totally fried the reactor with that poisoning incident. I'm glad everybody is happy with the situation, because the 'Partying Media' never picked it up. Since OPG is trashing good reactors, they really need this new one at Darlington, and I'd be just peachy-keen to help them out!

Last chance for Bruce money

It looks like this money was always slated for the local tea-house groups. I hope it was all picked up, and that people will have a great party! Since I'm not saying anything anymore, I am very happy that the effect on local cattle production will be thoroughly explored.

Earthquake preparation for small business

This is a cute article. In California, people are rattled all the time, so they have a powerful incentive to make some effort. Even then, it appears that all the training goes out the window, during an actual earthquake! Since our earthquakes in the east have a much slower rate of occurrence, we don't do any of this preparation.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

St. Mary's to burn plastic film

This is the cement plant right beside Darlington. I've been there several times, and am always impressed by the scale of the place. Now they want to burn a bit of separated plastic film, which would otherwise last for a zillion years in landfill. For this, they get to use a little bit less coal. It is interesting to read the comments of the locals. That is why I would never want to get involved in any public hearing process!

Glowing nuclear tribute

This article is very happy-happy. There are so many jobs now, maybe I should try for one?? But then I would have to be nice and happy to everyone, just like our fun-loving media. Should I now exude only positive energy, like university professors? I'm seriously thinking about it.

World geology map

These guys have put together a geological map of the world. Seems impossible to view, though. Would be nice to have it in a Google maps-type version.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Russia Goes Soviet, Space Station Stranded

Nobody can go to the Space Station, if Russia starts bombing everybody. Oh well, that's a problem for the Obama-man!

Asus-like chip starts to hide in every laptop

I love the son's Asus Eeepc, it's very portable, secure, and you can use the wifi anywhere. Now, the major laptop vendors are starting to put an eeepc-like chip in every laptop. This allows a rapid boot, and instant access to wifi. This will be the way Linux sneaks into the corporation, since you'd have to be a fool to use MS in an airport. A recent survey showed that most laptops in an airport had some sort of wifi malware.

The real problem in shrinking down these machines is the keyboard and screen, even though the whole computer is on a chip. All this action is going to be very interesting!

Hurricane, Schmuricane!

Three years without a major hurricane, and Florida gives up on them. You can see why nobody prepares for an earthquake if there's a hundred years of peace! It was interesting to read that nobody trusts shelters or the government anymore. Really, is it any use bringing your house gun to the shelter?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Good fishing

This past week at the cottage, there was nothing to do but dodge the thunderstorms. In the sunny stretches I fished off the dock. I know I have monster largemouth bass under the dock, since I see them once in a while. They never look at my worm, since I have caught them many times when they were young, and I throw them back. This week I plotted my way to catch one of the dock monsters!

At the end of my fishing, I usually have most of a worm left. This past week I would always break it up and scatter it in the water. Fish would come out and get them, since they seemed to know what a hook was. Yesterday I rigged up the line with a small hook, and no swivel, just a hook on the monofilament. I was catching a lot of fish, when suddenly my rod bent in half! I hooked a monster! Somehow the hook had caught because he swallowed it, so I immediately had to whack it dead.

I cooked it today on one of those cedar planks for salmon. I just gutted the fish and laid it out, and it almost filled the plank! Then I stuffed the inside with butter and garlic and put on some spices. The whole thing went on the bbq, and slowly baked. The soaked cedar is great, since it smokes and gives it flavour. Yum, yum, that was the best fish I ever had!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Canada and the Oympics

I can only see this through my water polo experience. We don't have any decent pools for the population, and they are closing all the school pools. We have one overworked Olympic-class pool in the Toronto region. The sports bureaucracy is unbelievable! All the coaches hate each other, and war to destruction. I find the whole thing amazing.

As long as we do this in the 'old school, old boy' Canadian manner, we should give up and send a very small party to the venue.

Draft knol on disasters

This is as far as I got for now. I have to go back to the cottage for more inspiration.

Catastrophic Power Law and Everyday Life A recent massive Toronto propane explosion, and the city's pitiful response has inspired me to resurrect my Claptrap article and beef it up for a Knol.

Power Law is the fundamental force behind most large-scale disasters, such as earthquakes, and industrial accidents. It is a consequence of the fractal, self-similar ordering of most natural systems, and human societies. Disasters are a consequence of Power Law coming against the natural linear thinking of the human brain.

Fractal Ordering and Nature

Take a look at most natural scenes, and you will find them pretty. A rugged coastline, a cliff face, a beautiful tree, and a sunflower. All of them appeal to our sense of proportion. These are all fractal patterns, and are created from the application of simple growth rules, applied over and over again. When this concept first came out, I studied it intensely, and could never get over the complicated math that accompanied it. I dismissed it as merely a way to make pretty pictures. Over the years, I have become to realize that it is one of the most fundamental forces of nature, and that the concept is very simple. Take an everyday tree. You can derive some very simple rules for making that tree, simply by specifying the degree of branching (two, three, etc), the length of the base twigs, and then state that a new sprout is simply another tree growing off the shaft. The tree can become immensely complex! The 'roughness' of the tree is a consequence of the branching rules.

Geology is my love, and here's where fractals totally rule! Take this pretty picture, for example.

You can't tell the scale! Is it a polished mineral on a ring? Is it a rock face? It is actually a satellite image from the ASTER collection. That is why all photos of geology have something applied for scale, such as a notebook or a person.

Fractals have some important attributes that affect us in everyday life. Look at the pretty clouds, nice and fluffy. You can zoom in on the clouds, and still see the same patterns as in the larger clouds. Most clouds have the same fractal roughness, but limiting dimensions are important here! There is no practical limit on the small side, since you could zoom in forever, and it would be fractal, until you hit the scale of condensation droplets. But on the large side, there are varying limits. On a nice day, the fluffy clouds are limited to a certain size, before the fractal pattern breaks down. In Ontario this summer, we have had rough fractal clouds with no limit on the large side. That means you constantly experience all types of weather on the same day! The cloud patterns are perfectly fractal on the satellite and radar. The sunny breaks and the rain follow Power Law. Lots of little ones, and then some super big thunderstorms or sunny periods. Very pretty cloud formations, very depressing weather!

Human societies love fractals. We organize ourselves in families, villages, regions, countries, etc. Most companies also organize in self-similar hierarchies. Every smaller group resembles the larger group as a whole.

Power Law

Power Law can be a truly horrible thing.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Harper prepares AECL for death

How to kill off AECL and blame others for it? This may well be the path that Ottawa is striking according to this article. Me? I never think they are that smart. I think Ontario has boxed itself into a corner where it has to take AECL, no matter what. It's the only way to squeeze 4 reactors on that horribly small site, right next to a quarry. Only AECL will be desperate enough to say "It's all right about that quarry." I'm sure the rest of the companies are saying "You've got to be kidding!". Perhaps that's why we have the delay?

Toronto's emergency response gets flattened by explosion

I was going to the cottage at 7:00 am and they were just starting to close the 401. I'm not going to lay into them, since the one thing they are well prepared with are excuses, platitudes, and 'next times'.

This has inspired me to resurrect my Claptrap article and beef it out for a Knol. Speaking of that experiment, I thought it was a lot of fun, but I'm sure it's heading to social failure. How do people read this? Who is reading it? I don't have a clue.

I'm going to title my knol "Catastrophic Power Law and Everyday Life".

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Obama does the boogie-man thing on nuclear waste

All his money is going into staging nice videos. This one has a flatbed truck hauling leaky rusty barrels, driven by Homer Simpson drinking Duff, with a hand-painted sign "Nuklar Wasste".

With 'ominous tones', the gravelly-voiced announcer says "Do you want this going through your home town? It might run over your kids!"

Ah, this is populist pandering at its very best!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cottage rain

Back for a day to dry out. I think we had the two days of our summer. Good thing I have the sauna, or fungus would grow all over me! But speaking of fungus, this is a great year for berries and wild mushrooms. I've picked quite a bit, and am letting them dry in the cottage. They smell wonderful! I only pick the ones that the book says nobody can make a mistake on. These have a sponge on the bottom instead of the usual gills.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Aliens come to inspect Bruce deep geology thingie

And they are not pleased. They left with two mysterious booms that nobody can identify. Of course, maybe it wasn't the aliens, maybe it was the sound of the geology screaming in agony that it is being ignored. Who knows?

AECL tells Ottawa: "Fish or Cut Bait"

Ottawa must be prepared to stump up millions if AECL is to win Ontario. The province would love that! I personally think this is great, since it would just be a continuation of the Maple drain hole.