Tuesday, 9 January 2007


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Alternative Fuels - Ra Ra The Sun God
The sun just shone on everything, the festivities, the funerals, and the dinosaurs. Here comes the latest installment of the Alternative Fuels articles.
That is the one most direct way to turn the sun's energy into energy we can use. Biodiesel is good, it turns sunlight and CO2 into plants that then get turned into diesel which then releases that energy and puts the CO2 back into the biosphere. The key thing is that the energy and CO2 from fossil fuels were taken out of the system ages ago and should not be getting into the current system in the quantities we're releasing them in. That is a Bad Thing.
Biodiesel is "now" energy and CO2, which affects the cycle less, and that is a Better Thing.
But solar photovoltaic cells (PV cells) and solar turbines and solar water heating are all forms of energy conversion where there's not even an effect on the CO2 cycle, and the sunlight is pretty much absorbed and released again almost immediately. And that is The Best Thing Among A Load Of Bad Things.
The downsides of PV cells is that they need more than just a piece of glass in order to work. The production process is not particularly clean. But then, you don't need to sheath the earth in PV cells so at some stage you'll have made enough PV cells. And perhaps it's also a bit less mess than we'd make from using fossil fuels for the same length of time...
Wind generators also convert the energy of the weather system into a form we can use. And the weather system of course is powered by the sun so again a pretty direct conversion, except as I mentioned that it will take energy that would otherwise be used in creating and maintaining our weather system.
Wind and solar power have one other drawback. They are bursty, that is, they happen for a while, then happen LOTS for a while, then... nothing. In order to not completely burn out equipment during the bursts, and in order not to have to live in the dark during the off times, that energy needs to be stored. So the cost of wind and solar power doesn't stop at the PV cell and wind turbine manufacture, you also have to figure in the cost of batteries or flywheels or thermal stores or whatever you're using to smooth out the flow of energy.
Two strategies that haven't been looked into very much yet are direct conversion and a mega grid. The first one is a bit slippery to grasp at first but makes a lot of sense. We humans spend a lot of time standardising everything. So we have standard household AC current to do a range of work for us, some of which it isn't suited to at all, and some for which it's probably the Best Thing.
Here I go: I use energy to dig up some dinosaur's mother-in-law's oily remains, turn them into more energy which I then turn into electricity whcih I then turn into rotary motion which I then turn into gas compression which I then use to suck energy out of my food - and waste the energy. By this stage though, one kilowatt of cooling has probably taken 50 to 100 kiolwatts of energy to produce. Why? Because it's inappropriate use of electricity, our "standardised energy" source.
I could instead have used a solar collector to focus heat on an old thermal exchange refrigerator element just outside the kitchen. That way, the sun's heat is pretty directly converted into cooling. And when the sun goes away it's night so the refrigerator only needs to hold temperature overnight. Or use a smidgen of "standard energy" to maintain that temperature. The downside is that your refrigerator has to be made to use solar energy directly. The upside is that fridges are THE biggest energy wasters in the house, and this way you drop their "standard energy" requirements from fricken huge to miniscule. Almost half the energy that domestic housing consumes is being used to extract the heat from your food and release it into your house where the airconditioner has to remove it all over again and dump it outside the house anyway.
So - more specialised and relevant use of solar and wind energy would probably be a Very Good Thing. But the ideas of standard electrical energy and standard petroleum fuel have to go. As usual we do clever things - and then don't know when to stop flogging a dead horse. (Or a dead dinosaur as the case may be.)
The mega grid is even easier to understand. Somewhere in the world, the sun's shining and the wind's blowing. If you can get that power from where there's an excess to where it's dark, you can offset some of the need for storage and reduce your reliance on stored energy. This is really only useful for the larger conntinents but even so, if it means having to manufacture several thousand tonnes of batteries less then it's a Good Thing for the earth.
And the mega grid doesn't need to be all electrical - there can be any number of forms of moving the energy from place to place including heat. Imagine a long pipe that you pump energy into today, and in five days time it comes out in Alaska. So this is even a form of storage for the energy.
The most imprtant things we need to think of are to be agile, that is, to grab energy from wherever we can in whatever form we can, rather than insisting that it all comes out standard. The only reason for standardisation is for purely commercial gains, and nothing more.
Life's random. And so should your energy sources be.
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 11:07 PMposted at 10:50 PM Ted
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If You Don't Bevel Your Edges,
... you're a bloody idiot! Here comes - finally! - another piece. Sorry, but my antibiotics were doing what they are designed to do, which is the be "anti" anything "biological" and unfortunately these particular antibiotics were also anti me. I really didn't feel much like writing...
About a million years ago, the Don't Drink And Drive TV ad of choice was the old "If you drink and drive, you're a bloody idiot!" complete with the requisite carnage pictures. Within a few months an Australian comedy show had picked it up and features a lovely piss-take that they ran just like an ad during their shows for the next few months.
It featured dining tables, kitchen tables, counters - all with fearsome sharp edges that hadn't been bevelled of course - and lots of blood and gore and tomato sauce and little kiddies running into rooms with an immediate flash/cut to a shot of blood slowly pooling on fine suburban carpets. Then the doom laden voiceoover would toll out that message - heck, it was just like the drink/drive ads really.
To this day I watch all the "bevel-edge" ads that aim to scar5e the crap out of you and get a huge laugh out of them. But the sad thing is that they probably do frighten some people into buying disinfectant before the 6" tall germs with sharp pointy teeth eat theior kid off the high chair, they do go and outlay $25 and two hours to be taught how to perform CPR and then promptly forget how to do it when they really get into an emergency situation.
Go on and start saying it every time you see one of the "scare" ads - "If ya don't bevel ya edges yer a bloody idiot!" and see how many family members and friends give you outraged looks like "how dare you! This is a serious concern!" ... Then pick a new family or new friends... hehehe
Oh yeah and just watched another kind of ad - the "you know we're going to be cheaper than anyone else because we make these huge TV ads, no waste of money there is there?" style ads. Think cheap rugs, think good guys. Come on... How can a place offer "discount" on everything it sells and still make enough money to pay their rent let alone producing an ad and running it on TV 10 - 20 times a night? Either the goods are REAL cheap, or the TV station running the ads is. And I dare you to ask the TV stations what a 30 second slot in evening viewing time costs...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 10:54 PMposted at 8:25 PM Ted
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Monday, August 21, 2006

... and cats are from Red Dwarf, scientists are from tunnelvision.
I admit it. I'm a net junkie. I take the laptop in the evening and watch TV while searching for whatever gets mentioned or catches my eye in the programs. I also tend to open a load of YouTubes, I Google and Yahoo, and I play stupid flash games. So there's a constant stream of noise from the laptop, which annoys my partner because it masks the TV sound sometimes.
It also doesn't faze the cats in the least. They are used to crashing sounds, wailing noises, and all. Then I found this site and downloaded the piece of music from there and played it. The most electrifying effect I've seen in ages. Three cats lounging around the bed woke up, sat bolt upright, and STARED at the laptop with disturbed expressions. It wasn't any louder than anything else I'd been playing.
Those cats knew that this was something not of this Earth. If you want to indulge me, or convince yourself, play that drifting video, (it has a good tyre wailing bit of sound,) and watch your cat. Then play the stellar symphony. Please leave me a comment to let us know what the result was. In my case it was two very distressed cats and one who was mildly concerned.
And what is it with our "doctors" and "scientists"? If you watched the rather baby boomer show "What's Good For You" tonight you'd have seen their trained doctor try to divine the sex of five babies using a range of methods, being the wedding ring pendulum, the chinese horoscope method, some chemical test using drain cleaner and urine, and using the heartbeat of the foetus.
So the results were that the heartbeat method scored very badly, the drain cleaner second worst, the chinese horoscope managed 80% and the wedding ring scored 100%. And what does the pillock of a doc say? "Spookily enough the ring scored best. Mind you, that doesn't mean it will work for you." or some such disclaimer.
What the heck? What is it with scientists that they can do a test over and over, get the same result over and over, and then because it's not the result they were expecting, to disclaim that theirs was probably a fluke result? They have no trouble saying that atoms are composed of much smaller and entirely imaginary particles which they can't prove at all, but when a result from common folklore (which means that a lot of people have observed a similar result) scores five out of five that's not scientific enough...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 9:19 PM Ted
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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Waddya mean we look like a banana republic?
YOU KNOW, LIKE THIS: State employees in the Australian Capital Territory have been warned they face jail if they leak confidential information to the media.
"Put simply, it is a criminal offence to disclose confidential information and carries a substantial fine, or jail, or both," said a memo from ACT Public Service Chief Mike Harris, adding he was disappointed by the numerous "unprofessional" and "inappropriate" leaks.
Newspapers were able to quote the memo exactly since it was leaked to them the same day it was issued. - (Australian AP)
Categories - ::/:: posted at 11:01 PM Ted
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Friday, August 18, 2006

How Big Is Your Flag?
How big is your flag? It's just awful...Maybe a better question is: How Big Is Your Fish? .
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Friday, August 18, 2006 6:08 PMposted at 6:03 PM Ted
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

TV And I'm In Luck
Trish told me over dinner that she was looking forward to The Boner at 9:30 tonight. I thought I was in with a chance, until I figured out she was trying to remember a TV show... Such are the vicissitudes of life...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 7:48 PM Ted
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Alternative Fuels - Strange Apparatus
We have an insatiable appetite for energy. Our favourite ways of getting our energy fix are fossil fuels, biofuels, and nuclear energy. Unfortunately those are also the best ways to pollute the atmosphere water and land, and we're starting to pay the very dear price now, and will keep reaping that harvest for around twenty to fifty more years... Talk about crapping in your nest...
But not all our energy sources are unclean and unsustainable. Some are downright ridiculous. There have been "magnetic energy" machines and "zero energy" generators and others too numerous to mention. They all contradict Heinlein's Theory and Ted's First Principle, which can be succintly acronimised as TANSTAAFL, or There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Perpetual motion and energy from nothing are the same shyster spruiking now as they were back when Cocky was an egg.
Placing a satellite station in orbit with a lot of solar collectors and beaming that energy down to a fixed spot on the Earth has also been suggested. The usual plan calls for the energy to be converted to microwave frequencies and beamed down to a finely focussed spot. I don't know about you but I am perfectly certain that A) the satellite will move, ever so slightly, at least once in its working life. That means that B) a really really open-air microwave oven will wander around the area where the collector is, and no tile roof is going to stop you from popping like a microwaved egg if the wandering happens to encompass your neighbourhood before they get it shut down. And C), that means that there WILL be a significant warming effect at the receiver, leading to a hot spot where none was before, and an increase in solar energy by whatever amount that satellite collects which would otherwise have gone whizzing right past Earth.
So energy from space is not going to rescue us either.
Here in Australia we have one possible source of alternate energy that looks good at first glance: Make two deep parallel shafts down to where it's really really hot still, and join them at their bottom ends. Now drop cold water down one hole, and stick a steam turbine over the top of the other. Our idea has some refinements of course, such as using one hole with a water supply pipe, a steam cap, condensing the steam back to water to do it all over again, and so forth.
On the surface (hehehe) it seems a perfectly sensible idea. There's teramegagigawatts of heat down there, after all. And it's not a bad idea - provided it's not put into large scale production. I'm always on about energy balance, because upsetting it can have unpredictable, if not downright dangerous, effects. Take this idea. Aside from the fact that you'd be putting a large amount of heat into the local space, and therefore creating a heat source where non was before, you're also removing heat from the rocks below.
Down there, after years and years of operation, a certain amount of cooling will have taken place. And some molten rock - not a lot I'll grant you, but some amount of it - will have cooled enough to solidify. That places a small but significant amount more rock under that spot, and we have no idea whehter that will result in that land sinking into the molten core material further, or rising up, or getting caught in some sub-magma flow because of that spur of rock sticking in there like a keel.
The point is that the geothermal system is imperfectly understood and not very stable, otherwise we'd understand it. And any system that's on the edge of balance can be disturbed by the most unrelated seeming things. So one geothermal power station may not cause much effect, and a few hundred may also not do much. But then when have we ever stopped at just one or two of anything? Hell, we know for a perfect fact that nuclear weapons are harmful to the Earth yet we have tens of thousands of those.
Then there are a variety of systems for claiming energy from the sea. One involves the temperature difference at different depths, and pipes. Same cautions as for geothermalk steam apply, that you're shifting energy from where it belongs and is happy, to a place where it doesn't belong and isn't happy.
Tide generators and wave generators are next. Tide generators force the change in tide through a tapered aperture over a turbine, and by ingenious desgins, they do that both coming and going. The tide is one of the things that couple the moon and earth in their gravity embrace. Slow enough local tides at enough places down and that coupling is afftected because the body of water doesn't move in sync with the moon any more, and that in turn will change the lunar orbit. Not a lot, but remember we wouldn't stop until we were syphoning 25% of tidal energy off, nr would we stop for centuries, And in centuries, small - tiny! - differences repeated daily over hundreds of days do add up...
So tide machines are a better idea but still affect things a bit too much.
Then surely wind generators will do the trick! The wind blows, it makes the turbines turn, and it blows on. Where's the harm in that?
Well, it takes energy to turn the turbines, energy that comes from the wind. SO the correct sequence of events is that the wind blows, it imparts some of its energy to the turbine, and then blows somewhat slower and cooler onward. And in addition, the sweeping turbine blades crsuh their way through a significant number of insects and some birds each week. The first major innovation in wind turbinme design was a set of water sprays so that the operators could clean the insect guts and bits off the turbine blades without having to stop them. I am not kidding about that.
So turbines slow the wind and take energy away which this winds would otherwise have carried farther inland or to sea. Additionally, it raises the collective IQ of birds by killing the dumb one, and decimates local bug and insect populations. It's also a lot of engineering to recover energy, and people in towns and cities don't want a 24 by 7 "swoosh-swoosh-swoosh" noise and turbine propellor tips moving at 50km/H just above their heads so there are limited spots for this technology.
That said, there are several designs for smaller wind generators which are safe, regulate themselves, and arfe not as noisy as their larger counterparts and, if it wasn't for the need to store the energy in batteries (messy and unclean, both to make and to dispose of) and then convert that energy to the AC which our appliances are used to supping from this would be a pretty good.
Again, geothermal, tidal, wave, and wind power are all possible as long as there's not going to be too many of any particular type operating. Diversity, that will help. Keep fossil fuel powered plant, but also have geothermal power, wind power, wave power. If someone's invented Aledicnander Force generators why get a couple of those too. And that way no one energy source can hold a country to ransom the way the petrol conglomerates are holding Australia to ransom again.
We need useable energy that costs very little to produce, is constant, and doesn't pollute. Think of a device called an Arbiter, because I am. I'll explain some more energy harnessing devices in the next article, and then a strategy for more sustainable fuels.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 1:16 AM Ted
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Alternative Fuels - The Glowing Atomic Age
... and was never heard of again. Making home made fuels out of recently living plants and animals rather than their millenia old remains does make better use of the solar energy, because the energy the plants absorbed is released pretty much immediately, as far as the ecosystem's concerned, not stored away for millions of years and then suddenly burnt to release all that stored sunlight.
All that pollution is the biggest downside, and so is the fact that it is still a terribly inefficient process. But then consider how inefficient the process was that produced fossil fuels, and it doesn't look quite so grim... But there's another energy source that we can exploit, minerals which have spent their past being smashed and burnt together in the primeval Big Bang event, which contain the energy of the beginning of time in their very atomic structures. These weird minerals were produced by unimaginable energies and they still have most of it left.
We tend to use this material to blow one another up or coat weapons so that they can more easily kill the machines and men of our enemies, or just to threaten and poison one another, but that's not the evil inherent in the material, that's a quite human failing. Unfortunately that's left a very bad impression.
We can refine uranium and then use that inherent energy to make electricity, but those rocks have been around for a long long time and active for a long long time and we're not going to extract all the radiation out of them. So unfortunately nuclear energy leaves waste behind which is dangerous and goign to remain dangerous for up to several hundred thousand years.
But. The advantages of a fuel which doesn't cause air pollution are decidedly more attractive than fossil fuels. The other problem, of releasing energy into the ecosystem, still remains. It's just lucky that Earth radiates that energy back into space and keeps a balance. Except when pollution throws up a blanket that keeps more of that heat in.
There is a glimmer on the horizon. Scientists have found that bacteria that live in places where there is no sunlight such as deep underground and deep underwater, have evolved to ingest minerals and extract their energy from them. Some of them even ingest the various waste materials that comes out of a reactor and excretes the result as a different form of uranium, somewhat less harmful. And I'm sure there will be another bacterium which just loves that material and excretes it as a different material. I'm in fact pretty confident that we'll soon not have a problem with the waste, one way or another.
My favourite way of dealing with the waste problem is to make the supplier responsible for taking back the waste and safely disposing of it. But of course that would make all those people with political dreams and a self-image problem unpopular in the eyes of that small minority that such politically-minded people seem to admire more than their fellow humans.
For my 2c worth, nuclear energy is a short-term solution with some serious long-term effects at this stage, and therefore probably as undesirable as fossil and purpose grown fuels.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 6:56 PM Ted
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Alternative Fuels - The Plant Side
Synopsis of last article: People are bad for the Earth. Fossil fuels aren't much better. Alternative fuels may or may not be better.
Okay so what about alternatives? Well, the next step in our quest would be to forego that rather long slow step of letting all that organic material rot down to essential oils under hundreds of feet of dirt, where it's anyway hard to get out. So that step is to gather our raw material and find some way to decompose it into something we can process into a fuel or use directly as fuel.
Most usually this is done by growing a crop that is high in oils, and then extract that oil. We already do that in order to get food oils, after all, so we know how to do it. You can see this in action just by going to any olive plantation outside Perth, they almost all extract olive oil from the olives for food use. If you're going to use the oil for fuel you don't have to go through as much hassle to keep it palatable, and can extract oil out of every stick leaf seed and grain of the crop. You can furthermore evaporate and distil out the esthers and alcohols from the plant and finish up with the base for ethanol or methanol.
But towards the cost of getting that product to that stage you must count your fuel and energy costs in preapring the fields, planting the crop, the energy cost of the fertilisers used, the harvesting process, and the actual processing energy costs such as heating to distil the esthers, driving the oil press, and the cleaning processes.
But okay - you now have a vegetable oil, some methanol, and a pile of solid wastes which you can either feed to animals or compost to offset the amount of fertiliser you'll have to use for next year's crop. If you have a lot of animal livestock the fats and oils that they produce as a result of that stock feed can also be added to the basic oil.
And there are engines which can use that Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO) directly, with certain provisos. They must be preheated on fossil diesel, for example, and run the last ten minutes on diesel, to prevent clogging up the fuel system. Or you can use some of that methanol and some chemical magic to turn the SVO into biodiesel. Either way, these fuels are cleaner burning than fossil fuels and so offer a slight advantage over fossil fuels, but at this stage you need to either do the chemistry yourelf or else pay someone to do it for you and that equates to price at the pump equal to or exceeding fossil fuels.
Since animal fats and vegetable oils are available as byproducts of slaughtering and food preparation, that means that we can spread the energy debt across two uses rather than just one, and that means we're using the resources more efficiently.
So we can extend existing fossil fuel resources or replace them with similar fuels. And thanks to research on a variety of plants and plankton and algae, there are now several ways to turn waste material and sunlight into miniscule oil-rich plants which can be used in the above processes, and in fact some algae and planktons can break down some of our more harmful wastes while making themselves into a fat juicy source of oils.
Again, each of these processes reduces our reliance on overseas oil and energy, reduces the amount of pollution, and represents a way to extract immediate energy from solar energy without overly changing the energy balance. Some bacteria and plankton can actually be useful in converting solar energy into electricity directly - but that's for another article.
For the moment, again I can only say - lean on your local MP, become an activist, and ask for some sensible steps to be taken rather than just offering subsidies to keep the same harmful technology going.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 5:28 PM Ted
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Alternative Fuels - The Fossil Seam.
What is an "alternative" fuel? Strictly speaking there are two kinds of energy on the planet. First, there is the geothermal energy supplied to the planet in its formative aeons, where the energy of many thousands of bodies colliding was transformed into white hot molten rock and metals, which gradually cooled on the outside. That's the energy that we still see bubbling to the surface when a volcan erupts, or when scientists dig L-O-O-O-O-N-N-G-G shafts down through the outer crust of the mantle of the Earth. There's an unimaginably large amount of energy locked up in that molten core, but it's in the core for a reason, and while it looks like a great source of energy, it isn't. Before I get to that I'll describe the ONLY other source of energy we have on Earth.
Solar energy radiates from the Sun to us, and pretty much powers everything except for the many species of bacteria lichen and fungi which eke a living from geothermal energy. All of our fossil fuel reserves are derived from solar radiation in the past, allowing plants to convert trace minerals and materials (which were derived from our only other source of energy, i.e. geothermal) and then converting those plants into fossil fuels. Sometimes this conversion took place via animals which ate other animals which in turn ate those plants, but the solar cycle is the basis for pretty much every form of fuel we use except nuclear fuels.
The solar cycle is inherently inefficient. Sunlight falls on bare ground, which means all it does is heat up the Earth a bit, some of it falls on totally wasteful and inefficient plants, and some falls on water and drives the weather cycle, and thus the source of water which life depends on. Those plants then either rot to form food for other plants, or else are eaten by animals and excreted to form food for other plants, or ultimately the animal that ate the plant dies and the other plants silently assimilate its corpse. The majority of solar energy falling on Earth is thus wasted, used to make animals that jump and run and bark and bellow - and some of them make automobiles and computers and plastic sporks and and fine political speeches...
Yet despite that inherent inefficiency, the Earth has managed to stash away a lot of potential solar energy in the form of fossil oils and gases. It's a tribute to the sheer volume and continuity of the flood of solar energy pouring over the Earth for aeons, that such a small percentage of the total has taken us so long to burn through. Of course, there's a price to pay for our exploitativeness - that potential energy, while unburnt, lay under the ground not contributing to the total amount of heat on Earth, and now, thanks to us, we're adding long-gone solar energy back into the system...
So really there are only two fuels, and all our "alternative" fuels derive from those. Oh, okay, the occasional meteorite may plummet in and convert it's speed into a bit of heat, but that's not a large part of the equation these days. And if ever a meteorite comes along that IS significant in terms of energy, then trust me you don't want to be around... If we add the idea of efficiency (or rather, inefficiency) to that we can see that each time solar energy is converted from one form to another, there will be huge net losses. For every megawatt of power that falls on the Earth under the best conditions, i.e. directly on a fairly efficient plant, most of that energy will eventually radiate back into space. A miniscule portion will remain in the ground as the decomposing cells of that plant, and a similarly minute portion ended up as fossil fuel.
We then refine that fuel, (using up more energy in the process) and extract a small portion of that as petrol or diesel or heating oil. And then we burn it, and because our energy using processes are also inefficient, a tiny fraction of that ends up as useful work.
When we plant a crop, we're using up energy to do so. That crop then absorbs solar energy and grows, and we use more energy to process that crop. So you can see that there is always going to be a net loss, it's up to us to make sure that the loss is minimised, and lost in such a form that we don't affect the world's net energy balance (and the weather) negatively, or at least, as little as possible. So far, that hasn't been happening, and global warming is the result...
Since fossil fuels are used so much, and are also so inherently dirty, they are the worst possible way we can supply our energy needs with. It's only because we have gotten so good at exsploiting this particular energy source that we stick with it. and it's a very bad thing we're doing. So I'm referring to fossil fuel, not as "standard" fuel as opposed to "alternative" fuels, but rather as one of the many alternative fuels.
Having started by describing fossil fuel, I'll also explain that coal and oil and gas are all classed as fossil fuels. They all break down similarly, are all similarly bad for the environment, and we have learned to exploit them all with equal inefficiency. Burning wood is one step better because it's not reviving the solar energy of aeons past and releasing it, it's releasing the sun's energy of the last few decades only. But burning wood means that if we wanted to supply all out energy needs this way we'd have to clear-fell most of the world's trees - and they don't grow back fast enough...
Fossil fuels then, are not desirable. Worst of all are petroleum fuels burnt in inefficient engines, which surprisingly even to this day includes most engines made, because we would prefer to extract fast power rather than sustained slow power from our engines. Diesel engines are slightly better but the less pure diesel fuel produces a lot more of some pollutants than petrol does, and better yet are gas engines. But still nowhere near clean enough...
Now we come to a modern-day conundrum. Most houses in Australia receive Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) via pipes from the gas company. The houses that don't, receive bottled LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas which isn't all that different - but different enough that appliances need different jets installed, beware!) for running appliances. It's widely agreed that gas is far more useful for cooking, so I can see that gas stoves make sense. Apparently someone's done the sums and gas hot water systems are more efficient than electrical, but this changes as technology changes, and in any case solar hot water is the best way of all but not always reliable. (And beyond the scope of this article which seeks mainly to set out the guidelines.)
Because gas is used for cooking and heating in houses it is priced reasonably and there's no excessive amount of excise imposed on LNG or LPG as delivered to homes. Certainly, I'm sure that LNG and LPG for the home is much cheaper than 60c per litre. And the rub is that your gas converted car would run quite well on that gas in the pipes at home. You'd need to compress it of course, so you'd be using electricity to compress the gas into your car's tank overnight. But overall, you'd be driving for around half the cost of auto gas at the service station. And remember that this is the same gas in both places, and the service station supplier probably had a cheaper compressor than you do to compress their gas. So most of the price difference is either profiteering or government excises. You decide which one.
Coal powered, steam powered, and similar cars, still use fossil fuels to produce the energy to move, with varying (but uniformly disappointing) levels of efficiency. And if you run your car on compressed air, the compressor had to be run by something, usually electricity, and that electricity had to be generated, usually by - you guessed it - some form of fossil fuel. And that kind of says it for electric cars as well. Had to charge them at some socket somewhere. I'm deliberately ignoring solar electricity here, because let's face it - do you have access to any form of solar electricity right now? Has your government provided incentives to install solar charging stations or home power? Thought not. They can't charge you for sunlight. Yet...
Another, less obvious consequence of fossil fuel use is that you become dependent on the supplier of that fuel. Half the problems that are occurring right now wouldn't occur if it weren't for the steady flow of money from each one of our pockets to people in the Middle East who now have all that money and a grudge... in the case of WA, we have copious amounts of LNG and oil available, but our government is allowing the companies which are extracting it, to sell it overseas (obviously at a lesser price than the Middle East is asking otherwise they wouldn't be able to sell it) and then we are stuck buying the same product from the Middle East. Here is an important political lesson for you: The government does not "own" those resources, except in the very loose sense that it represents us, the citizens, who do. And we have allowed control of those resources to be given away, and are now seeing our product being sold at $65 a barrel to China while we're paying $75 a barrel to Arabia or Iraq. That's the price you pay for not watching what's happening...
So fossil fuels are the worst of a bad lot, but the one that humankind has become most familiar with. You can reduce your costs and the impact your energy use has by requesting gas powered cars and powerplant, but it still creates the energy-shifting problem and the carbon dioxide and monoxide problems and the pollution problems. Obviously we're stuck with fossil fuel usage but every litre that we don't use improves our planet's chances of supporting us for a bit longer.
What are the "alternatives" to that? I'll write up my thoughts in the next article.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 4:55 PM Ted
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Fury at Fuel Prices Fuels Rebate?
Really? I think fury at the fact that the government could easily drop 20c/litre off their excise on fuel and aren't doing it is what infuriates people more. It makes John Howard's attitude look like pure dilligaf doesn't it?
All that pushing a rebate is going to achieve, is to make gas conversion installers raise their price and skim all that lovely rebate money. Far better would be to just put the hard word on the companies raping WA for oil and gas which is then sent overseas and giving them a pro-rata quota that they must maintain. And don't give them the choice of naming their price, TELL them the price.
The trouble is that John Howard doesn't have the cojones to do that. He's too worried about becoming our first Geriatric PM to take risks like that with his dwindling popularity. Heaven forbid, someone who cares about Australians might actually get in! I don't understand how anyone can seem to be so spineless and snivelling as Mr Howard and still think they have a right to stay in office...
And I still take issue - HUGE issue - with the ideas behind fossil fuels and the methods the Howard government are seeking to "fix" things. (Strangely, a different "f" word keeps popping up in my mind - but that's another story...) See, Kyoto Protocol or not, whether John Howard thinks it or not, global warming is a given outcome, and is in fact happening whether Little Johnny makes a defiant stand or not. Neither Australia nor the global weather system revolve around John Howard, no matter how much he'd like to think so.
Making ethanol to supplement fuel supplies is heading for what's colloquially known in Australia as Shitter's Ditch, just check any news reportage about prices and be surprised! that the price of ethanol-augmented fuel is higher at the bowser than straight petrol. Of course it's going to be more expensive! It take between four and ten joules of energy from another source such as coal or fossil fuel to make enough ethanol to supply one single joule. It's the single most stupid idea in the world, is ethanol.
Followed closely by hydrogen, at this stage. Quite frankly, we have very few ways to produce hydrogen in economical quantities and costs. At least two joules of energy needed to separate enough hydrogen from water to provide one joule of hydrogen energy. Hey it's obvious isn't it? There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Ever.
What about biodiesel? While I haven't done the sums yet I suspect that this might be produceable for less energy than one can get out of it, but the net energy input is still going to be around three to one. I'll explain these in later articles on the different alternate energy sources. For now, let's just say that they will not set things right in the world. Aside from the net energy equation, there's also the little matter that each of these will still release pollution and/or energy imbalances.
Direct conversion solar power is the best method we currently have for alternate energy, except for the initial cost both economically and environmentally to produce the infgrastructure, i.e. the requisite solar cells and collectors. But really, once you have that, the rest of the energy is free, as the energy from the sunlight falling on the ground versus the energy radiated from any equipment using that solar energy will be the same, overall. The second biggest problem with solar power is that energy that traditionally fell on the ground during the day and created heat only during the day, can now be stored and create heat during the night, which has some environmental impact.
The second best method (and I just know this is argument territory so bear with me) is nuclear energy. Yes one of the highest per-capita users of nuclear power, Sweden, is shutting plant down and reducing their dependence on nuclear energy. But there is very little else that makes as much sense. And yes there will be a price to pay for changing the balance of elements making up the Earth but until people get seriously behind DIY solar energy it's what we've got. And yes there is a huge waste disposal problem but there are legislative ways around it that would make a government unpopular in the short term but which would prove out in the longer term. More on this in later articles too. Lastly, biologists have found bacteria that can break down various nuclear waste to slightly less dangerous forms, and there's a chance that they will find several stages of processing bacteria.
Why the government has ignored free solar energy and chosen instead to concentrate on keeping fuel prices high and trying to get the public into other equally expensive and exploitable energy sources is a mystery. A more cynical person than myself might say that there's little profit for the government in solar power because they can't take an excise on sunlight at a pump, but of course that's just conjecture....
Oh yeah - and the Autogas rebate? As mentioned, certain unscrupulous businesses would see those high rebates and the high demand they will generate as a justification for raising the cost of the procedure, of course. And while LPG may well cost less than half per litre than regular petrol at the bowser, there is less energy per litre in gas, too - so you may find that the huge savings don't actually follow. I notice that every TV station report has trumpeted loudly that LPG is 60-odd cents per litre compared to $1.40ish for petrol, without mentioning that energy difference. So I assume that most TV stations are playing nice with the Government and not actually putting in a whole lot of research of their own.
And the verdict? Do it. Get your car dual fuel converted, and then lean loudly and heavily on your local MP to change the rules regarding exporting our petroleum, oil, and gas. Especially here in WA, we're on the crest of a tsunami of resource wealth and we're not getting the benefit from it. That is unfair, and we should not let our government, nor any overseas interests, exploit us in these ways.
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Wednesday, August 16, 2006 3:26 PMposted at 3:09 PM Ted
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Another Trade A Piece Of Shite Site
Hi. My name is Ted and I've decided to trade a blue paperclip until I finish up with an RV or caravan that I can live in for two years while I explore Australia, and then if possible, the rest of the world. I intend to die on the road, and because of my emphysema, it doesn't need to be the longest-lasting RV...
Seriously. I know it's been done already at bluepaperclip.com but come on - the guy got to a Coleman canoe and is stuck there! I seriously do have the blue paper clip, although I fully don't actually expect to start a trading round like Kyle did, but apparently your blog isn't cool these days unless it has some "trade me to your loss and my gain" or "gimme your stuff" kind of begging page on it.
I direct your attention to the Donations button to the right, after all, money can be traded for items just like other items can...
Trish and I have pretty much decided to sell the house and get a place in the country, and then see if we have enough left over for an RV or caravan anyway. But if I one could be as jammy and lucky as Red Paperclip Kyle, and manage to score the camper first, one could use that to go property-hunting to one's heart's content, and then even if it was a block of land in the middle of Blackwood Valley, one would have a place to live in while building up stuff like the house, the sheds, and so on.
I know Trish has mixed feelings about selling up but I have none. I'm desperate to owe nothing to anybody anymore, and to be in semi self-sufficient situation, and then experiment like crazy with ecologically sound and friendly farming, fuels and energy, and more. A bit of thought and scribbling on graph paper has convinved me that I can make vegetable oil, stock feed, compost, biodiesel, solar power generators, an evaporative water collection device, and a heap more. If I outfit that RV before goign on my trip I figure I'd be able to live for up to three months without needing to come back to town.
And if I manage a decent satellite dish I could be blogging that from the best places in Australia and the world. So while it would be good to trade my blue paperclip for a 28' Winnebago, I'd also like to ask you if you ever hear of a camper, RV, or caravan going at a reasonable price, (or someone willing to get their money monthly as I get my pay) then that would make life so much easier.
BTW if anyone wants to try "Blind Trades," they should email me the items they have to trade and the items they hope to gain. I'll forward the relevant emails to the most suitable recipient, and much hilarity should ensue... My email's down the bottom there, yesy I do check even the lowly Hotmail at least twice a week...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Tuesday, August 15, 2006 7:06 PMposted at 1:28 AM Ted
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Monday, August 14, 2006

Not <> rated - beware! < / G>
So Google doesn't want anyone to use the verb "google." So am I going to tell them that I googled for the verb googled and finally googled it on Slashdot? Why not? Geez get over yourself Google, "serious trademark issues" indeed! Here comes the second none--rated bit: ... and screw you Google for acting like a pack of pussies!
Google googled googling! Google google google! How can I make it any worse for myself? Jehova Jehova Jehova! Beetlejuice Beetlejuice B - ... Nope, not that one. Some things can really hurt you.
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Tuesday, August 15, 2006 6:48 PMposted at 10:42 PM Ted
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Pride In Incompetence Rears Its Head Again
For anyone who's read my blog regularly you'll know I'm not usually hard on restaurants and cafes because I like the cafe/restaurant scene, and I can usually give a customer perspective which is positive and happy. But just lately I've seen a crop of places which make you just want to go home and break out the cheap cask wine...
These are the places that don't "get it," as it were. I'm sorry to say that each one of them recently has been under the management of Asian people, which is sort of odd because they are usually the backbone of business here in Perth, astute and very knowledgeable about their products.
Regular readers will know that I have nothing but respect for every one of our city's multitude of different cultures, and as my readership would attest I'm not the least bit biased. (Well, okay, maybe I am a bitr worried about fanatical Israelis and fanatical Arabs, but even there most of the people I know of those races aren't fanatical like in the Middle East and therefore my blog rails against fundamentalist fanaticism not the people themselves. But I digress...)
Places recently:
A fast food place in a newish shopping centre run by what appeared to be a Korean family - and badly at that. They understood business, they understood willingness to work, but didn't realise that unless you know what a real burger tastes like you shouldn't just make something that looks similar. Understanding what you're cooking is a first prerequisite to cooking it well.
They also apparently shanghaied their daughter into working there and her attitude showed it. Bad for business, and showing a remarkable amount of lack of hospitality or customer savvy. Family businesses need to be backed by the whole family, or have new staff in double quick time, or they'll fail.
A small supermarket with a deli/lunch counter which kind of got the idea that you can make money selling lunches in the business district but didn't get that you can't just look at a picture of a stuffed capsicum and then produce something that looks like it. You need to know what flavours you're aiming for. They didn't.
Same supermarket also makes other meals that can be had by the takeaway container full. Among them a Beef Vindaloo as often as not. But while it looks like Vindaloo, it tastes wrong. Also, the beef is cooked rendang style, big lumps overcooked to buggery, not the way curry should be. Again, not "getting it" makes the whole effort a waste.
Now Jourdains comes under the new management. I have no doubt that the waitstaff were family of the new owners, and probably the cook/kitchenhand person was too. But it was inexcuseable to not deal with your only two new customers in the last 15 minutes right away. Then the burger. Proving once again that they didn't "get it" and in the process producing something that looked like a burger but wasn't.
It was also inexcuseable to gouge customers in so many small ways. Good memories are fleeting, bad experiences last years...
My father told me several times that the food business was a good thing to get into because in good times your loyal customers would make you rich if you made them feel rich, and in bad times your loyal customers would still come around just to feel less poor. Because of that, I never gave the hospitality/catering/food industry another backward glance, as most teenagers do when confronted by their parents' wisdom...
And speaking from a customer's point of view, I can tell you now how right my Dad was. I am often what is colloquially referred to as "on the bones of my ass" with money but I still find enough in the wallet to take myself and Trish to Sam's Coffee Kitchen at Station St Markets, or (up until today) Jourdain's, or (back in the days) to Cafe di Rocco, or any other place that made me feel like I was a welcome customer.
It's not rocket science, for chrissakes - treat your customers well, get a decent chef or cook, and tell your waitstaff that those people out there pay their wages, not some manager in an office out back. Hell, even I could do it. Despite my cooking being based on homely measures rather than kitchen measures, despite my being a total grumpyass some days, and despite my not knowing Jack about balancing books.
Buy good ingredients, that's not difficult. Know what you're cooking, it's basic research. If any of those people in my examples above had decided to cook Indonesian or Korean or whatever they were most familiar with, I'm sure they would have been a roaring success and the food would have been good. If you can't (perhaps for zoning rules or whatever) cook what you know best, then at least take the time to get to know what you're emulating. I'm sure if the person who made the stuffed roast capsicums had ever bothered to go to a Greek or Italian restaurant and done their research, they would not have produced the abortion of a dog's breakfast that they did.
And so on - as I've said in past articles, many businesses take pride in their incompetence these days. I've been to electronics stores where the salesperson I spoke to hadn't picked up that an entire aisle of equipment had been labelled with mis-spelled names, and when it was pointed out to them they just shrugged and said it wasn't their job to label stuff. When I asked them what the equipment in question was actually capable of they tried to sell me another brand, and in fact turned out to know nothing about either brand aside from what was on the (incorrect) labels...
I've walked out of butcher's shops for seeing the apprentice futzing up a simple job of cutting chops while the master butcher watched on. NOT ROCKETSCIENCE folks! If you want to do a particular job, do it right, learn all about it. Or else get out of that line of work.
I've lost salespeople their jobs because they couldn't answer fairly simple questions about their products of choice without stuffing it up. I've called out managers to explain in great detail why a particular counterhand had just cost them my business, and the business of any of my friends, and stuck to it to this day. You want my money you're going to have to give me something in return for it, sorry.
And these three businesses have not given me much to write home about, let alone hand over my money to them. Not when I have REAL restaurants and REAL cafes with REAL waitstaff and REAL food to spend my money at!
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Wednesday, August 16, 2006 3:16 PMposted at 12:15 AM Ted
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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Jourdains has changed hands. It's not pleasant...
Sorry - this is not going to be pleasant, but some people just don't understand the "hospitality" part of the hospitality industry, which, last time I looked, included cafes and restaurants. I'm sorry this is going to be a very harsh review, but I've written this article, gone and left it until after a nice dinner and glass of red, and I'm still outraged. So yeah, this is gonna be harsh.
Jourdains has changed management in the last six weeks or so. Trish and I arrived to find a welcome facelift in the cafe, new food display cases - and a new menu...
Checking the menu showed a pretty standard uninspired range of safe meals with nothing to differentiate it from any other little lunch joint. A sudden and awful light dawned.
"Changed, ummm, - management, have we?" I casually asked. "Oh yes, long time now" came the reply from the Asian lass behind the counter.
Mind you, this was not instant. It was not even anytime within five minutes of coming in and standing awkwardly at the counter in an otherwise almost empty restaurant being apparently ignored. Not kidding, there were only two other couples in the place when we arrived, all seated, all dealt with already.
The reason we'd had so much time to realise that the menu was mostly "same/same all other" was that as soon as we approached the counter, that same girl had run off to the kitchen at full tilt, shouted "Goodbye!" in a stage bellow, she'd then come back out with a plate in her hand to take a slice of quiche from the display chiller, (thereby reducing their stock on display by about 20%) and hand that to the cook/kitchenhand/whatever he was. They then both took off, leaving us standing there awkwardly again, and I was right at the never-turn-back second of doing an about face and leaving, when she deigned to come back out and notice us.
SERVICE: About 2 out of 10 so far. Come on folks, decent staff and decent hospitality makes up for a lot of things, get your staff used to dealing with customers first, internal matters last.
There being almost nothing on the menu worth pursuing we ordered burgers and chips, and two coffees. As she took our hard-earned, the waitress babbled about "cost nine dollars before and not even home-made" - or at least, that was what it sounded like she was saying. I have no idea, but I do know that if she said what I thought she'd said then that was a lie, because the old Jourdain's managment were proud of making everything in house, generous, and tasty.
SERVICE: Minus another point for being unintelligible, and apparently also lying about the previous management. 1 out of 10.
The burgers arrived. Minus cutlery, after all this wasn't some class joint any more. The attitude seemed to be "if you want extra, you pay extra. Now, do you want a plate with that?"
SERVICE: Zero. No effort made. That is just crap new Jourdains management! The extra 5 seconds it takes to wash a set of cutlery is worth the kudos you'd get for actually GIVING YOUR CUSTOMERS SOMETHING TO EAT YOUR EFFING FOOD WITH!
Ah. "Food" - the burgers. Wafer-thin sliver of meat, very much not home made, pile of lettuce to bulk it out to the dimensions one would expecrt of a real burger, a WHOLE SLICE of raw onion, various thin slices of other vegetables. It was as though meat had suddenly acquired the value of gold and the rest of the burger was just gilding. All the signs of a money-grubbing, penny-pinching, tight-arsed management were beginning to come together.
SERVICE: Now minus, and because that's an imaginary number, that makes Jourdains pretty much irrelevant to me from now on. And? Jourdains new management? If you tell your waitstaff to talk up how much better the burgers are, how about making sure that you actually have a good burger? Just saying so doesn't make it anything other than what it was.
But I'll continue. Trish asked me to get some sauce. There was a sauce sachet jar on the counter, 20c per sachet, and I gestured to our plates and paid for one. Said waitress took our money without question. Three minutes later she took the sauce bottles (which had been hidden under the counter) out to some customers au trattoir. Not once did she volunteer to me that they had sauce bottles, she just happily took another 20c for something which should have been included in the meal.
SERVICE: Down to -2 or even -3. That should never even have happened. Putting the condiments out in view would be the right thing to do, as would have been to volunteer that the Secret Saucebottles existed.
But wait, there's more... (Or rather, less, in fact. And two less regular customers...)
As we left Trish asked about the scones in the pastry display cabinet. Our waitress had thankfully pissed off by this stage and we got to talk to the cook/kitchenhand/whatever instead. "Scone wi' bu'er, dollar fifty!" he announced with triumph, and asked if we were eating in or taking away. There were only six people in the whole place, and he knew we'd just gotten up and were leaving, as he'd watched us come over. Minus one more for an effing stupid question...
He then put the scone in a bag for Trish. Without butter. Come one, what the blue effing blazes is a smear of butter going to detract from your precious profits? You had to try and screw us for that as well? I asked if the "scone with butter" included butter or if we could have it cheaper, and they finally did, amidst a lot of Asian speaking (well actually shouting) in tongues, manage to at least sell what they advertised.
But I tell you what, I'm not going back there again for a few months, and definitely not while the current people run it. The way they're going they'll have gone belly-up by then and maybe someone with a knack for the restaurant business might have taken it over by then...
FINAL SCORE: New Jourdains scores a big fat (but surprisingly miniscule, to match the service, generosity, and hospitality of the hosts) "Don't bother, don't give them your money because they don't deserve it" and I hope to hear the bankruptcy notice soon.
Scathing? Perhaps. Unfair? No I don't think so. Stretching the truth? Definitely not. These are the cheapest bastards you will ever meet and since they are so determined to screw their customers over I'm determined to screw back. If they had exhibited ONE sign of being decent half-average hosts, this would not have been written. But they chose to be parsimonious pennypinching and greedy, and there's nothing further I can add to that without using non-approved swear words.
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Monday, August 14, 2006 12:35 AMposted at 4:33 PM Ted
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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Is It Atomic? Yes Sir, Very Atomic!
This just blows me away. Not that it's the world's sharpest object, a titanium needle. It's because - awww heck just go on, take a look. And make sure you read the caption...
If anyone had told me when I was in High School that I'd be looking at atoms in photographs I'd have told them to get real.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 9:08 PM Ted
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Modern Mystery No 29 - Why Is This "Cyber?"
I guess you can sell anything by slapping the word "cyber" in front of the name - but I also postulate that the spirit level might be so you can level your hard disk so the data doesn't slide off?
Categories - ::/:: posted at 3:23 PM Ted
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Modern Mysteries For The Paranoid
Say what you want about Global Warming (yes with capital letters,) but you can't deny several things. One, since we have had the technology to measure weather and other conditions, a trend has shown that all that is changing. It's significant because things seem to have started changing since we have had the technology - you could argue that our discovery and application of that technology coincided with a change, or that the changes were always happening but we'd never had the technology to measure them before.
But the smart money's on the simplest explanation, as per Occam's Razor. For a fact, if weather patterns had been as variable in history as they are in modern times, I'm sure our ancestors would have noticed that and recorded it in folklore, books, and oral history. But, despite being so observant that they could see and catalogue stars which we're still rediscovering today with our modern equipment, they didn't. So past climate changes are not likely to have been as extreme over such a short span of time as they are today. That means we can thank technology for the mild winters lately.
Oh - and if you're thinking that it's all a bit of overblown hype and hoohaa? Think of it this way - even if you disagree, plan for the worst, and then the best will be a pleasant surprise. Ignore it - and if it does happen, won't you look stupid?
We can also thank them for the drought which was already beginning when my family came to Australia in the early 60's and which has resulted in the current generation of farmers abandoning a year's crop. Unheard of when we arrived here. It just didn't happen...
Now look at the following stories and try to capture a common thread: --- Pacific Dead Zone --- Dying Salt Marshes --- Flogging A Dead Aspen --- and that is all a bit worrisome is it not? We can add to that our farmlands filling up with salination from clearing the natural tree cover, aquifer and dam water levels at their lowest points since pretty much for ever, and happy little cane toads finding ideal conditions to march across country while native amphibians are dying for reasons unknown.
As I said Trish and I are looking for a country property, preferably one where we can retire. And while my plans are to grow Mediterranean trees which would have gone perfectly in places like the Central Wheatbelt, we're shifting our focus down toward the Southern regions. Because, in a few years time, that region will have the requisite climate, for a few years at least. What happens after that is anyone's guess.
I'm always amazed at how our farmers take up the challenges of matching the changing weather. Or not, as the case may be. I remember when we arrived, (early 60's remember,) there was already talk about salination, and farmers were talking about how clearfelling fifty years earlier was the cause. Forty years further along the way, I notice that farmers have stands of trees among their grazing and crop lands. None of those treest are much more than five to ten years old, meaning it took those farmers over thirty years to actually get around to doing anything.
Here's another one: Over twenty years ago one of the trees that the Department of Agriculture was promoting as a preventative for salination was the Tagasate (I think that's how it's spelled) tree which was a prolific water sucker-upper, tolerated mild salination, and which provided stock feed. I think I've seen three or four stands of tagasate in all my travels around WA, and they all seem to have been planted well after salination had set in already.
Right now the climate just outside Perth is pretty much Mediterranean. And the farmers have decided not to plant a crop this year because of that same weather. ONE - count it, one - farm that I've seen has planted a crop which is suitable to the current weather. And no, it's not a broadacres wheat/sheep farm, it's a small farmlet such as many people are buying. They have crop after crop of pistachio nuts to look forward to, while the other farmers have years of repaying their bank...
I'm planning for things like pomegranate trees in a whole cooler climate belt, because the weather as it is won't hurt the trees, and if it gets warmer and drier then it will be right within the normal range for pomegranates. I've also planned that if the weather trend reverses, there are several other crop trees and crops which will work, and I'm prepared to be agile in what I farm. Any farmer who might have put in pomegranate trees 20 years ago and been prepared to prune them properly once a year would now have no salination problems, have had 17 years of pomegranate crops and be into their fourth wave of trees, and probably not owe the bank anything.
I predict that the weather will change beyond anything we have predicted so far, and unless our food production methods start becoming more open to new things and methods, a lot of upheaval. I also really hope anyone who reads this will start thinking about the future more, and perhaps that way recovery is possible. Now I'm off to read about biodiesel and solar power and rammed earth... hehehe...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Saturday, August 12, 2006 1:43 PMposted at 1:15 PM Ted
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

My Kind Of Quake!
This is more fun than blowing away nasties. Blow away cuties...
My favourite timewaster of the week...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 9:04 PM Ted
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Please Send Tickets for Ford Theatre to Canberra!
Jiohn Howard goes to the States and, being such a good chum of Geogre W Bush, gets to spend three nights in the White House.
The ghost of George Washington appears, and Johnny says, "How can I best serve Australia?"
Washington says, "Never tell a lie."
"Awww gee," says he, "I don't know about that..."
The next night, the ghost of Thomas Jefferson appears... Again John says, "How can I best serve my country?"
Jefferson says, "Listen to the people."
"Ohhh! I really don't want to do that."
On the third night, the ghost of Abe Lincoln appears... And once more John Howard says,"How can I best serve my country?"
Lincoln says, "Go to the theater."
Categories - ::/:: posted at 8:52 PM Ted
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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Away For Census
Probably the only post today - am at the Census online to do our civic duty...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 6:27 PM Ted
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Monday, August 07, 2006

Strangely Attractive
Amusing, silly, simple, fun!
Categories - ::/:: posted at 7:15 PM Ted
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Sunday, August 06, 2006

If I ruled the world...
Polit-sci lesson 1. If everyone reads this and applies it to their lives, then Australia might become the Lucky Country again...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 6:36 PM Ted
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I pinch.
Cute. Ad.
Why don't we get ads like this on our TV stations? I'd almost buy a Honda for this.
BTW the crab has a myspace account.
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Sunday, August 06, 2006 9:55 AMposted at 9:50 AM Ted
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Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Truth About Cats And Dogs Is
... a great album, have heard most of the tracks off it on JJJ now. Don't think too much of the full title but hey it's the truth isn't it? As long as we don't help them along that path with overfeeding or smoking around them, it's a good life to be a pet these days. Let's face it, not too long ago animals were either working or not. Then we got a lot more leisure and income and suddenly it was the Era Of The Cat And Dog.
Yes the relationship goes way back but the totally nonworking pet is a product of Victorian times. And in that short time we've woven legends around the relationship between pets and people. Like, there really are cat people and dog people, and they really are different. As Poncho and his pack find out, cat people in particular are different.
And guess what? There's some scientific proof that cats have changed the personalities of the people around them.
Don't worry about me - I've been a cat person for decades. That sorta explains the blog... But - interesting thought - how many people in IT are cat people? If the toxoplasmosis causes personality changes (which, apparently, it does - read the scientific proof link above) then perhaps those of us who grew up with cats are now better equipped to deal with the intricacies of hi tech? (Or just better trained, maybe... Cat says "miaow," we buy it a can of cat food. Server says "Out of Space," we buy it a new hard drive...)
Hey! That sounds just like what TP and Skribe are going through with their kitten substitute... hehehe...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 7:06 PM Ted
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Friday, August 04, 2006

GREAT pictures, tres cute!
Cats and their stereos. Perth blog, foreign cats, music, earphones.
Oh yeah and a new Perth news site called Perthnorg? Wonder if they need reporters? "Teddlesruss here. Tonight in Perthnorg, the brickies on the construction site across from my office laid around 30 courses of bricks and blocked my view of the lake and fountain good and proper. Citizens (well, me, anway) expressed outrage at the loss of a naturla view. And in news just to hand it's come to Perthnorg's attention that the lake may have been a natural feature once but was in fact completely rebuilt by developers so protesters don't have a leg to stand on and no the building will not be dynamited like it should be."
But Perthnorg - hmm I still haven't "got" it - is it a newswire feed, locally written, or a multicontributor blog? Stay tuned.
Oh and that Diigo - so far most disappointing. Using the browser applet, it seems not to have kept my bookmarks or notes, and now I am wondering if it's worth installing yet another browser add-on if it's not going to work right. I'll persist a bit longer because perhaps I'm doing something wrong.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 11:44 PM Ted
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Why Does This Seem So Topical?
... when it's got to be around a hundred years old? Found on Project Gutenberg:
_Marianne Faringham._A Fence or an Ambulance
'Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;But over its terrible edge there had slippedA duke and full many a peasant.So the people said something would have to be done,But their projects did not at all tally;Some said, "Put a fence around the edge of the cliff,"Some, "An ambulance down in the valley."But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,For it spread through the neighboring city;A fence may be useful or not, it is true,But each heart became brimful of pityFor those who slipped over that dangerous cliff;And the dwellers in highway and alleyGave pounds or gave pence, not to put up a fence,But an ambulance down in the valley."For the cliff is all right, if you're careful," they said,"And, if folks even slip and are dropping,It isn't the slipping that hurts them so much,As the shock down below when they're stopping."So day after day, as these mishaps occurred,Quick forth would these rescuers sallyTo pick up the victims who fell off the cliff,With their ambulance down in the valley.Then an old sage remarked: "It's a marvel to meThat people give far more attentionTo repairing results than to stopping the cause,When they'd much better aim at prevention.Let us stop at its source all this mischief," cried he,"Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally,If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispenseWith the ambulance down in the valley.""Oh, he's a fanatic," the others rejoined,"Dispense with the ambulance? Never.He'd dispense with all charities, too, if he could;No! No! We'll support them forever.Aren't we picking up folks just as fast as they fall?And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?Why should people of sense stop to put up a fence,While the ambulance works in the valley?"But a sensible few, who are practical too,Will not bear with such nonsense much longer;They believe that prevention is better than cure,And their party will soon be the stronger.Encourage them then, with your purse, voice, and pen,And while other philanthropists dally,They will scorn all pretense and put up a stout fenceOn the cliff that hangs over the valley.Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old,For the voice of true wisdom is calling,"To rescue the fallen is good, but 'tis bestTo prevent other people from falling."Better close up the source of temptation and crime,Than deliver from dungeon or galley;Better put a strong fence 'round the top of the cliffThan an ambulance down in the valley."
Categories - ::/:: posted at 11:19 PM Ted
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Diigo social bookmarking/stickynotes/etc
This is cool. "This" is a sort of social network / bookmark / stickynotes program. I know that part of the presence in this must have come from Odigo, which I've installed on and off for years now and am always fascinated how people cluster around web pages. With Odigo, you could instant message people who were on the same web page as yourself.
Diigo is the next step, it lets you leave sticky notes attached to the site, lets you add the site to your del.icio.us bookmarks, and I'll tell you more after I install the toolbar so I can fully use the features, for the moment I've used their little web applet to add a few notes here, see what this is capable of. I wonder if I can get an RSS feed of all my notes so I'll know if someone's added a note to one of my notes?
Sorry - off to go get geeky on Diigo's ass...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 9:41 PM Ted
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1 comment:

Jay Draiman said...


In order to insure energy and economic independence as well as better economic growth without being blackmailed by foreign countries, our country, the United States of America’s Utilization of Energy sources must change.
"Energy drives our entire economy." We must protect it. "Let's face it, without energy the whole economy and economic society we have set up would come to a halt. So you want to have control over such an important resource that you need for your society and your economy." The American way of life is not negotiable.
Our continued dependence on fossil fuels could and will lead to catastrophic consequences.

The federal, state and local government should implement a mandatory renewable energy installation program for residential and commercial property on new construction and remodeling projects with the use of energy efficient material, mechanical systems, appliances, lighting, etc. The source of energy must by renewable energy such as Solar-Photovoltaic, Geothermal, Wind, Biofuels, etc. including utilizing water from lakes, rivers and oceans to circulate in cooling towers to produce air conditioning and the utilization of proper landscaping to reduce energy consumption.

The implementation of mandatory renewable energy could be done on a gradual scale over the next 10 years. At the end of the 10 year period all construction and energy use in the structures throughout the United States must be 100% powered by renewable energy.

In addition, the governments must impose laws, rules and regulations whereby the utility companies must comply with a fair “NET METERING” (the buying of excess generation from the consumer), including the promotion of research and production of “renewable energy technology” with various long term incentives and grants. The various foundations in existence should be used to contribute to this cause.

A mandatory time table should also be established for the automobile industry to gradually produce an automobile powered by renewable energy. The American automobile industry is surely capable of accomplishing this task.

This is a way to expedite our energy independence and economic growth. (this will also creat a substantial amount of new jobs) It will take maximum effort and a relentless pursuit of the private, commercial and industrial government sectors commitment to renewable energy – energy generation (wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, energy storage (fuel cells, advance batteries), energy infrastructure (management, transmission) and energy efficiency (lighting, sensors, automation, conservation) in order to achieve our energy independence.

Jay Draiman
Northridge, CA. 91325

P.S. I have a very deep belief in America's capabilities. Within the next 10 years we can accomplish our energy independence, if we as a nation truly set our goals to accomplish this.
I happen to believe that we can do it. In another crisis--the one in 1942--President Franklin D. Roosevelt said this country would build 60,000 [50,000] military aircraft. By 1943, production in that program had reached 125,000 aircraft annually. They did it then. We can do it now.
The American people resilience and determination to retain the way of life is unconquerable and we as a nation will succeed in this endeavor of Energy Independence.

Solar energy is the source of all energy on the earth (excepting volcanic geothermal). Wind, wave and fossil fuels all get their energy from the sun. Fossil fuels are only a battery which will eventually run out. The sooner we can exploit all forms of Solar energy (cost effectively or not against dubiously cheap FFs)the better off we will all be. If the battery runs out first, the survivors will all be living like in the 18th century again.

Every new home built should come with a solar package. A 1.5 kW per bedroom is a good rule of thumb. The formula 1.5 X's 5 hrs per day X's 30 days will produce about 225 kWh per bedroom monthly. This peak production period will offset 17 to 24 cents per kWh with a potential of $160 per month or about $60,000 over the 30-year mortgage period for a three-bedroom home. It is economically feasible at the current energy price and the interest portion of the loan is deductible. Why not?

Title 24 has been mandated forcing developers to build energy efficient homes. Their bull-headedness put them in that position and now they see that Title 24 works with little added cost. Solar should also be mandated and if the developer designs a home that solar is impossible to do then they should pay an equivalent mitigation fee allowing others to put solar on in place of their negligence.

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