Saturday, April 21, 2018

Small things 21 Apr

  • Back in the day, if you were 'live streaming', basically you were fishing.
  • Bananas, nuts and crackers. 3 food words that also mean crazy.
  • If it's so normal and well intended, why don't men tell other men to smile? Or that they look great.
  • The only thing flat earthers fear...... is sphere itself.
  • If you ever see a cat meowing at the front door of their home, just sneak up to the door, ring the doorbell and run. When the owner comes to the door, they'll think maybe the cat rang the doorbell.

We get it poets

Things I learned lately 21 Apr

  • It's not just living spaces in Hong Kong that are expensive — a car space in Kowloon City district was just rented out for HK$10,000 (US$1,274) a month, making it the city's most expensive rented car park. Property agents confirmed the 135 sq ft park was rented on Monday in the residential Ho Man Tin area.
  • At Home Depot, check the price for a hint about whether an item will be marked down again. If a clearance item's price ends in .06, the price will drop one more time, and if the price ends in .03, that means it's the lowest price possible.
  • Uber just bought a company (Jump) that rents out electric bikes at a rate of $2 per 30 minutes. They only operate in DC and SF for now.
  • Some rules NFL cheerleaders (on various teams) have to abide by: no fraternizing with the players (not even social media contact); have to leave stadium wearing outfit; maintain a certain weight; no wearing sweatpants in public; turn off GPS tracking on phones.
  • When two dead stars smashed together, as was observed in October 2017, the event threw off a very large quantity of neutrons that almost immediately decayed into lighter elements. Astronomers predict that this formed 50 Earth masses of silver, 100 Earth masses of gold and 500 Earth masses of platinum.
  • If you search for solitaire, you can play the game.
  • The world's biggest hotel, by number of rooms, is the First World Hotel and Plaza in Genting Highlands, Malaysia.

Surviving Mars review

Ever since Elon Musk told us about his plans to race NASA (or anyone else for that matter) to Mars, the idea of sending people to the red planet has become a common topic of discussion. Well, now thanks to the awesome folks at Haemimont Games, you can try your hand at establishing a working Mars colony in the latest planning simulation game - Surviving Mars, which was released March 15th 2018.

I heard about this game more than a month before it was released and began watching demos and tutorials from people who got pre-release versions of the game. I put my money down immediately. This is yet another example of a sim that would work wonders in schools, to give students an idea of what needs to be managed in order to build and keep a living colony of humans on another planet that has no breathable air or surface water.

You start by choosing your mission sponsor and a few other details that essentially affect the difficulty level of the mission, including how many rockets you get, how much money you start out with, and what technologies you are gifted with out of the gate. Then you pick a spot to establish your colony, which could throw things like regular dust storms, meteor showers, cold spells and more your way.

Once your first rocket lands, robot drones will build anything you command them to, as long as the raw material resources are available. The idea is that you can use whatever money you have to order raw material from earth in subsequent rocket launches, but your goal is to start finding or mining everything you need to eventually become self-sufficient. Higher level resources have to be manufactured using the kinds of raw materials you'd get from the land, so once you are able to extract water from the soil, you can then start making other things which need water as an ingredient, like fuel. You learn that just because you have the material, you also have to have power cables, and possibly water and oxygen pipes if you want to build something new. But you also need rovers in range of the thing you're building, so they can carry the material to the build site and perform the construction.

Everything needs power, so you need to slowly build out a working grid supplied by solar, wind, and other futuristic power sources, with storage capability. As you collect materials and harvest power, you can watch your stockpile grow and shrink, while monitoring power, water and oxygen.

You need to have built a sustainable water, power and oxygen supply, plus a dome with living quarters and hopefully a food supply, before your first colonists even arrive by rocket. Once they arrive, they'll need a place to live, jobs and ways to be entertained. So, before long, you're managing things like work shifts in factories, farms and diners, while watching their morale and comfort. You can even be picky about the skills and personality traits of the colonists before they board the rocket from Earth.

You even have to monitor the battery levels of all your robot vehicles so that they don't get stranded far away from base. I like that you can override to a certain extent what vehicles are doing, to help focus on tasks that are falling behind, like emptying a cargo rocket of its load, or moving a bunch of rovers closer to a dome you're trying to build more quickly.

While all of this is going on, you can decide which research projects get prioritized in the background, as each researched technology unlocks more research, and the ability to build new structures or enhance existing ones. The research also evolves your biotechnology, engineering, transport, mining and extraction, social resources, and more.

In addition, you can send an explorer vehicle out to newly scanned sectors of the map to scan anomalies, some of which reveal new technologies to you, some of which make the mission a bit strange and mysterious.

Mars is a harsh environment though, so even while you're building and exploring, your infrastructure is being punished with dust, radiation and other Mars mysteries, wreaking all sorts of havoc on the health of your colony even if you chose a location that is relatively meteor and dust storm free. Thankfully, as long as you have time, materials and working rovers in range, whatever is broken can get fixed.

Ultimately, once you have the infrastructure built and colonists living and working in your colony, the rest of the game becomes one of sustaining what you have and keeping your colonists from getting bored or going crazy while starting a new generation of humans born on another planet.

Since research is what unveils technologies to make life easier, getting that research becomes a priority. You can accelerate things by selling rare metals to Earth, which allows you to spend that earned money on outsourcing some research.

Depending on the level of difficulty you chose at the beginning, you might get a decent colony built and then start seeing things get sabotaged by the tough Mars environment. Let that damage get out of control and your colonists will die. Not to worry, you can fire up a brand new mission and try, try again.

Presidential approval ratings since the 60s

More insight on how Facebook data is used

Filtering your newsfeed of friends' posts is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you wanted to get a better insight of how your tracked browsing history, searches and Facebook posts (and more) can, and are being used, watch this incredible Ted talk.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Kickstarter strikes again (DJIN)

I'm always thrilled when I find a new product that I feel could make life easier on Kickstarter. Or just a cool gadget. Well, one of my most recent discoveries is a bit of both. It's the DJIN card holder by Koala Gear. Koala Gear made their name with a uniquely designed ergonomic backpack and decided to try their hand at a small, efficient card holder.

Here's why that appealed to me. My most recent wallet is nothing more than a glorified card holder. It has a lot of slots for credit, bank and club cards, but when fully loaded, it's thick. It's like sitting on a brick, and from all that butt-weight, starts causing some of the cards inside to bend. If you know anything about plastic cards, they don't like being forced to bend and the stress eventually makes them break. My workaround up until now was to occasionally turn the bent cards over in the wallet to try and bend them back straight. This works temporarily, but in time they bend the other way, which just weakens the plastic more. And it's ridiculous to have to even deal with such an issue.

Enter DJIN. It has a capacity of 10 cards, which you slide into a metal frame. It's perfectly sized to make it easy to slide the cards over top of each other to find and access the one you need. Before I pledged to help fund this product, I was skeptical that it would be easy to get a card out, but since taking delivery, I worried for nothing. The holder comes with an RFID blocking card, which you can slide over top of your other 9 cards to protect from unauthorized scanning. I didn't bother, as I need the space for all 10 cards. Extremely small, but capable magnets keep the holder closed. No worries of demagnetizing your cards inside.

There are other features that I haven't found a regular use for yet, but with the card holder open, there's room behind the card frame for a few coins or small keys, that just slide in and out with ease. Even cooler, is a small but clever hidden storage space under the card frame that can only be accessed by sliding the frame upward. This hidden space is big enough for an SD card and not much else.

I like the card holder, which I bought in the leather covering, because of just how small and purpose-built it is. I'm hesitant to keep it in my back pocket, but it's so small, it fits in my front pocket. When they arrive in stores, I may buy another for my ID cards and such. They're small enough that I could easily fit 2 in one pocket.

Small things 13 Apr

  • You could tell me any group of white men was the band Imagine Dragons and I'd believe you.
  • Husband: Name one thing you'd like to try in the bedroom... Wife: Get a full 8 hours of sleep...
  • In the UK, they drive on the left. In Russia, they drive on what's left.
  • Did God download the commandments onto a tablet from 'the cloud'?
  • If the earth was really flat, cats would have pushed everything off of it by now.

Norwegian athletes are raised differently

(excerpt from Time)
Tore Ovrebo is the director of elite sport for the Olympiatoppen, an organization of scientists, trainers and nutritionists who work with Olympic athletes across Norway's sports federations.

Ovrebo says that in Norway, organized youth sports teams cannot keep score until they are 13. "We want to leave the kids alone. We want them to play. We want them to develop, and be focused on social skills. They learn a lot from sports. They learn a lot from playing. They learn a lot from not being anxious. They learn a lot from not being counted. They learn a lot from not being judged. And they feel better. And they tend to stay on for longer."

Trainers don't tell athletes how much they weigh. "It’s very dangerous. They can develop eating disorders." Olympic athletes don't receive prize money or bonuses from their federations. "We think prize money turns people into something they shouldn't be."

Luke's story begins and ends with a projection...

Things I learned lately 13 Apr

  • The most popular Black Lives Matter Facebook page turned out to be fake — and some of the money it raised may have been funnelled overseas.
  • It's better to cook lobsters live because it prevents Vibrio bacteria from forming in the meat, which can make you very sick.
  • Ballooning, or kiting, is a process by which spiders move through the air by releasing one or more threads to catch the wind, causing them to become airborne at the mercy of air currents. This is primarily used by spiderlings to disperse, however larger spiders do so as well. The spider climbs to a high point and takes a stance with its abdomen to the sky, releasing fine silk threads until it becomes aloft. Journeys achieved vary from a few metres to hundreds of kilometres. Mortality is high.
  • The food court at Costco makes the company a lot of money even though its prices are decent.
  • Hartsfield-Jackson-Atlanta airport processed almost 104 million passengers in 2017. For comparison, YYC in Calgary processed 16.3 million.
  • Sloths don't fart. They emit methane gas out of their mouths.
  • The world added more solar power capacity than any other type of energy in 2017, outpacing all fossil fuels. In 2017, solar energy attracted $160.8 billion in investment. Renewable energy, including wind, hydro, and solar, supplied a record 12% of the world's energy needs.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Small things 6 Apr

  • In my day, as kids, we didn't have Tide Pods. We ate dirt for fun.
  • Back in the day, when car windows had a crank to open and close them, it was so much easier to open the window to a precise amount, rather than the electric switch shenanigans we do today. Dooowwn. Too much. Up. Too much. Down. Too much. Up. Good enough.
  • There are no faith healers working in hospitals.
  • Wrestling. Where men with no pants fight for a belt.
  • They found a cure for dyslexia? Music to my arse!
  • Never make snow angels in an off-leash dog park.

"While it serves to enhance the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company"

Here's an email Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, sent to his employees a few years ago.

"There are two schools of thought about how information should flow within companies," he writes. "By far the most common way is chain of command, which means that you always flow communication through your manager. The problem with this approach is that, while it serves to enhance the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company.

"Instead of a problem getting solved quickly, where a person in one dept. talks to a person in another dept. and makes the right thing happen, people are forced to talk to their manager who talks to their manager who talks to the manager in the other dept.
who talks to someone on his team. Then the info has to flow back the other way again. This is incredibly dumb. Any manager who allows this to happen, let alone encourages it, will soon find themselves working at another company. No kidding.

"Anyone at Tesla can and should email/talk to anyone else according to what they think is the fastest way to solve a problem for the benefit of the whole company. You can talk to your manager's manager without his permission, you can talk directly to a VP in another dept., you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone without anyone else's permission. Moreover, you should consider yourself obligated to do so until the right thing happens. The point here is not random chitchat, but rather ensuring that we execute ultra-fast and well. We obviously cannot compete with the big car companies in size, so we must do so with intelligence and agility.

"One final point is that managers should work hard to ensure that they are not creating silos within the company that create an us vs. them mentality or impede communication in any way. This is unfortunately a natural tendency and needs to be actively fought. How can it possibly help Tesla for depts. to erect barriers between themselves or see their success as relative within the company instead of collective? We are all in the same boat. Always view yourself as working for the good of the company and never your dept."

Welcome to the future of inner city flight

A Chinese company, Ehang, just began its world-first public autonomous electric passenger drone flights.

The drone can carry a single passenger weighing up to 100 kg on a 23-minute flight at sea level at a speed of 100 km/h and is touted as being able to fly through fogs and in force 7 typhoon conditions.

Long-range test flights were conducted at speeds of 130 km/h over 8.8 km.

They will cost up to $300,000 each.

I shall return presently

Things I learned lately 6 Apr

  • Brittany Howard, the lead singer and guitarist from the Band Alabama Shakes, has synesthesia, which means she sees sounds as colours.
  • Jimmy Page played an out-of-tune Fender 10-string steel guitar on the track 'Your time is gonna come'. He stated that he first learned how to play the steel guitar during the sessions for the first album.
  • Sade started out as a fashion designer of men's clothing.
  • Virgin Hyperloop One is in talks with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to build a hyperloop network that could connect Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi. The company claims that it could get passengers from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes, normally a two hour drive. The network would reduce the 10 hour trip from Riyadh to Jeddah to 76 minutes.
  • Black Panther will be the first movie publicly shown in Saudi Arabia after a 35 year ban on cinema.
  • A police officer from Texas who went to jail undercover for 8 weeks quit the force after he got out of jail.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Small things 30 Mar

  • French texting v. When texting with someone and you see the 'typing' indicator from the other party for what seems like a long time and the message finally comes through, something quite short, like "OK." Based on the fact that it usually takes more French words to say the same thing as lesser words in English.
  • Anybody here named Jeff?  Jeff: Yes.  Geoff: Yeos.
  • You know you might be a little out of it when you start looking for your phone using the flashlight on your phone.
  • In Canada, cruel parents don't dye the Easter eggs before the egg hunt and just throw them outside into the snow. Yes, we often still have snow at Easter in Canada.
  • "If any persons to the number of 12 or more unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assemble together to the disturbance of the public peace and being required by any Justice by proclamation in the King's name in the exact form of the Riot Act, I George I, Sess. 2 c. 5 s. 2, to disperse themselves and peaceably depart, shall to the number of 12 or more unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously remain or continue together for an hour after such proclamation shall be guilty of a felony." There. You've just been read the riot act.....

De-centralized power generation and storage is the new black...... out mitigation plan

The state of South Australia is taking on a revolutionary project to harness solar energy and power 50,000 homes. Instead of solar cells at a single location, it’s creating a decentralized network, with help from Tesla.

Homes will get a 5kW solar panel system and a 13.5kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 battery, so each residence can gather and store energy. 50,000 homes are expected to participate over the next four years in building out the world’s largest virtual power plant, which will generate 250MW, roughly 20% of the state’s average energy needs.

The energy will deliver power during blackouts and feed power into the grid. The kits will be installed at no cost to the tenants.

South Australia has already kicked things off with a trial of 1,100 homes, and will bring the rest on board by 2022.

Operation pothole

Garbage = electricity + skiing

The Amager Resource Center (ARC), is a waste management plant that will convert trash into electricity for 62,500 homes and hot water for 160,000 homes.

But is will also be an artificial ski slope and the tallest climbing wall in the world.

It will blow smoke rings equal to one ton of CO2 from its stack.

The plant will also be surrounded by sports facilities and a go-kart track. It will be 25% more efficient than previous waste to energy plants.

Things I learned lately 29 Mar

  • A Russian athlete at the Olympics in South Korea who wore a shirt that said "I don't do doping" tested positive for doping.
  • "I'm a slave 4 U" was offered to Janet Jackson, who passed.
  • Pharrell's "Happy" was also recorded by Cee-Lo Green, but he never released it.
  • Stainless steel is actually a name for a wide range of steels, but they all have one thing in common: chromium, from about 10-30%, depending on the type. The chromium on the surface of stainless steel bonds with oxygen in the air to form a layer of chromium-oxide, which is what gives stainless steel its very hard, shiny appearance, and makes it resistant to corrosion. If it’s damaged or scarred, the chromium re-bonds with oxygen, and a new layer forms, so it’s self-repairing.
  • To keep the exposed edge of a cut cake fresh, pin a slice of bread against the edge with a toothpick and it won't get stale.
  • Fedex has more planes than Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways combined. Fedex has 650 planes in the air over the course of every day.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Not effective

There's this point during a Windows upgrade when a message appears on the screen. It says, "All your files are exactly where you left them."

Now, the folks at Microsoft probably thought they were doing users a favour, simply trying to convey a comforting message about the upgrade not having any effect on your existing documents, etc.

A computer savvy person reads this message and thinks, "Duh! Of course they are. I'm not stupid."

A normal user is like, "Why are you telling me this? WINDOWS!! WHAT DID YOU DO??!! Did you mess up my files and then fix them in a panic? What's going on?"


I loved this short about happiness.

The highest speed limits around the world

Guns guns guns

I have a respectful relationship with guns. I write this as I observe the aftermath of people being killed by guns and listen to people on both sides of the discussion, for and against gun control. Against my better judgement, I weigh in with my own limited perspective.

As people who know me are aware, I was first professionally introduced to weapons in the military. But my history with guns really begins when I was a young teenager. My best friend owned a few pump action pellet rifles and we used to use them for target practise in his basement. I discovered that I was a decent shot, even though I had no idea how to fire properly.

Once I joined the military, I had to learn how to use various weapons as part of my training in boot camp. The first personal weapon issued to me, was an FN C1 rifle, 7.62mm calibre, and I had a chance to qualify on an standard 9mm calibre SMG (sub-machine gun) and a 9mm Browning pistol. The FN C1 was eventually replaced by the fully automatic 5.56mm calibre C7 in the mid 1980s, and that became our new personal rifle. I've even been lucky enough to fire the M3 Carl Gustav 84mm shoulder fired anti-tank weapon and almost shit my pants in the process. Oh, and I set myself on fire from all the blowback carbon burning in our firing pit. Good times.

The only time I ever fired a weapon was during military exercises (war games) and our annual weapons qualifications, which you had to pass to remain employable. During exercises, we used blanks. During weapons qualifying, we used live ammunition. Once we were finished at the rifle range, we had to declare to the range safety officer (RSO) that we had "no live rounds or empty casings in my possession, sir!" Because we had regular (but highly controlled) access to our personal weapons, it was a big deal to keep the breach block and ammunition separate. If you got caught with live ammo outside of a weapons range, you were in deep shit.

The reason I tell you all of this, is to make it clear that the military taught me respect for weapons of all kinds and that has stayed with me even after my career ended with them.

Once I left the military, I mildly pondered the idea of getting my own weapon. I wasn't motivated by personal protection. I simply missed the days when I could regularly fire a gun, and thought maybe owning a pistol might scratch that very minor itch. Then I learned the legal facts from someone involved with law enforcement. It turns out that owning a gun is not easy in Canada. Between the rules for legally securing a gun and the ammunition, and the rules of using a weapon in self defense, I realized that the best way to satisfy any urge to do some target practise was to borrow a weapon from someone and use it at a licensed range. This is something I never bothered to follow through with. Like I said - minor itch.

What stuck with me after becoming aware of gun law in Canada, is that unlike in the US, Canada does not allow for protecting personal property with deadly force. In fact, if a thief barges into your house and proceeds to steal your stuff, you do not have the right to shoot them. True fact. The only time you might get away with shooting an intruder, is if you believe your life or the lives of your loved ones are in imminent and immediate danger. Even if the thieves are brandishing weapons themselves, if they don't threaten to shoot you, you can't shoot them first. Legally. Besides, you'd have fun explaining to the police, how you managed to get your weapon and ammunition unlocked and put together, if they were locked up properly. If you did so before the thieves entered your home, you're potentially in deep legal trouble because there was no imminent danger at the time.

So when I saw how a farmer was found not guilty of killing another man who tried to steal a vehicle from his farm, I get why folks would be upset that the farmer was found not guilty in a court of law. He shot a man who was not armed. Never mind that the man who was killed was first nations. But I also understand the point of view of farmers in general, who feel that it should be their right to defend their property, like it is in the US, especially when a growing number of rural residents feel that the police could be unable to answer the call in a timely manner in many cases. If I lived on a rural farm many kilometres away from any law enforcement, I'd freak out if someone came on my property with ill intent. Hell, I'd freak out even in suburbia. But one thing I do know, is that it would not be a good idea to kill anyone, or even try to. It's just not right. And I believe that the farmer could have just gotten everyone inside and locked the door. He'd probably be out one ATV and there would still be a man alive today. I know, I wasn't there, so I don't know the whole story.

See, I told you it was a bad idea to attempt to explain this..........

Things I learned lately 23 Mar

  • At Costco, if the price ends in .97, it's been marked down. If the tag has an asterisk, it's not being restocked.
  • An analysis of the Bitcoin blockchain – the publicly accessible ledger of transactions upon which the system is built – has revealed this vast trove of data is irrevocably tainted with unremovable links to illegal child pornography, which are inevitably distributed among and by all users of the currency. This discovery, in addition to other questionable and possibly outlawed content stored within the blockchain hypothetically makes Bitcoin ownership illegal, in any country that has laws against the possession and distribution of images of child abuse.
  • The first fatal accident between an autonomous car and a pedestrian has happened in Arizona. For reference, autonomous vehicles have driven over 100 million miles accident-free until now.
  • Traditional macaroni is straight. Elbow macaroni is curved.
  • Burt Reynolds was the first male nude centrefold
    . In Cosmopolitan. In 1972.
  • You can dip the entire Oreo cookie in milk and not get milk on your fingers by sticking a fork into the filling to hold the cookie.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Medical alphabet (used by doctors)

How to green Canada

Whenever it is mentioned that Canada produces a lot of greenhouse gas per capita as compared to many other countries, the excuses start pouring in. We're colder. Our population is more spread out. Etcetera. It's interesting to note that Russia does better than we do and they're just as cold and spread out as we are. But I think we're missing the point.

We could do better. We could substantially reduce our greenhouse gas footprint if we just tried a little harder. But we don't, because we don't have to. It does require spending some money. But the payback is among other things, more energy independence, cleaner air, a seat at the green technology table, lower lifetime energy costs and plenty of new business opportunities.

So how do we get there? Incrementally. Let's start with homes. Although the technology to build zero-energy homes has been around for a long time now, housing developments in Canada that feature them are still boutique offerings. There are definitely more zero-energy developments today than even 5 years ago, but it's not enough. We need, like California, to phase mandatory zero-energy residential to 100% of new builds by 2022 at the latest. Not only will this allow for zero energy materials and resources to scale up in capability and down in cost, but homeowners will reap the immediate benefits of almost or even absolutely no cost heat and cooling at a premium of 10% at most on the initial outlay of their home. It has been suggested that solar panels on every south facing roof in Canada could eliminate the need for fossil fuel power plants, except as standby generators when wind and solar are lower than optimum. Never mind that grid energy storage is now a thing. More on that later.

Geothermal can play a big part in zero-energy conversion too. This could play an even bigger role in corporate construction, as high density buildings don't typically have a lot of space to mount solar panels. But between better construction techniques and materials, and geothermal, it could be much cheaper over time to heat and cool the places we work and learn.

Transportation. Electric or at the very least hybrid powered planes are just around the corner. The very companies designing those planes right now say that they will be the perfect vehicle for short hop flights of 200-300km, which would remove a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. Electric cars are currently a luxury option, but intense competition will make them affordable even for budget conscious vehicle owners in the very near future. In fact, autonomous electric vehicles could dramatically change the vehicle landscape more than we can imagine, as it might not be necessary to own a vehicle anymore if you can summon a ride at will. Governments have seen the value of subsidizing first adopter electric vehicle owners in the past. I think the next smart thing to do would be to offer large tax rebates to people who adopt the new reality of shunning outright vehicle ownership. Autonomous, on demand vehicles will reduce if not outright eliminate the need for endless parking garages, and most of on street parking. It would eliminate the need for low density public transit, which has always been a hard pill for municipalitites to swallow. Uber is already making inroads in solving last mile transit problems for smaller towns and cities in the last few years. Whole residential neighbourhoods could be reimagined as well. You can build a whole new kind of neighbourhood when people don't own their own vehicles anymore. Goodbye attached or unattached garages and parking pads on your property. This gives you more of your yard back, or makes it possible for higher density, neither of which is a bad thing. It wouldn't even be necessary to build massive roadways passing by every single house. You could walk a few extra metres to catch your ride at a pullover station just in time for it to arrive. You could build little parks for 10-20 homes right in their back yards, eliminating the safety issues of kids having to cross streets to get to a safe play area.

The power grid. The excuse the utilities have always used to argue against serving more of the power grid with renewable energy has been our apparent inability to store power. The wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine they say. This may be true, but there are a lot of times when the wind does blow when we don't even need the energy (overnight), and it could be stored for when it is needed. It sounds impossible, but other jurisdictions have been doing it on a small scale for over a decade. Excess power can be used to pump water to a high elevation reservoir (easily done in our Rocky Mountain areas), which would power hydroelectric generators when the wind takes a rest. Excess power generated from solar can now be stored in massive lithium battery banks thanks to new storage solutions from Tesla and others. This kind of solution is already online in the southern US desert states and parts of Australia and it's a matter of time before we see this kind of grid storage everywhere. This removes all remaining excuses for bringing more and more wind and solar generation online. Fun fact: one of the top 3 solar panel builders is in Canada. How come most people don't know this? Fun fact #2: Calgary has 333 sunny days per year on average, as does most of southern Alberta. Sounds like the perfect place to leverage solar in a massive way. Southern Saskatchewan could do the same.

Agri-solar. As I blogged about in April 2016, solar could transform how we farm as well. Considering how precious water is, and how hard it is to farm a larger variety of crops in areas with long, hard winters, solar could make it possible to heat and light greenhouses while conserving water in a closed agro-system. With energy left over to top up the grid. Germany is even testing solar farms where the panels are raised high enough and spaced apart far enough to allow for crops underneath.

I look forward to a Canada that leads the world in the transformation, so that we can go from fossil fuel dependancy, to purely fossil fuel export, to keeping it in the ground and exporting the green technology that will replace it. We can lead this movement, or sit back and watch it happen everywhere else first.

Things I learned lately 17 Mar

  • To be considered part of the top 1% in Calgary, you'd need to earn at least $451,609 annually. In Sherbrooke, it would only be $172,069.
  • Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, makes $230,000 every minute.
  • A Bitcoin conference in Miami stopped taking Bitcoin as currency to buy tickets.
  • Blockchain something something secure something something distributed. I think.
  • There are now over 1500 cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is no longer the only game in town.
  • Google Chrome users can now right-click on a tab and select "Mute Site" to make sure that the site never plays sound.
  • Scientists think we will finally discover the radio transmissions of alien civilizations sometime in this century.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Small things 9 Mar

  • Nobody is 'from' Antarctica.
  • I never heard the word ablutions until military boot camp.
  • Weather carrot - n. A stated professional weather forecast for several days in the future, usually positive, which will probably change for the worst with each passing day, and most especially once that day arrives. 
  • Moving weather carrot - n. When the forecast for nicer weather several days in the future keeps moving another day further into the future.
  • If the US is going to arm teachers, will librarians be issued silencers?
  • When you turn 100, you can't play with Lego anymore. Check the box!