All posts by dana

Pen and the #ArcticMission

Pen and the #ArcticMission

When I lived and worked in the Eastern Arctic, one of my responsibilities was for projects on Ellesmere Island in the High Arctic. As a result, I grew to know that part of the North quite well.

Often, some poorly prepared southern celebrity ‘arrogant’ would stage some Guinness world record attempt at a run for the pole for personal fame and fortune out of Resolute. Most left broken, conquered and broke, with a new found humility for the real physics of the planet they thought they knew and understood. At the end of the day, their Science was definitely unsettled.

I confess, having regularly used the Twin Otter on Wheel/Skis on Land and Ice in summer and winter at the top of the world, I somewhat resented the narcissistic dash and dink crowd’s self-centred arm waving for attention. That was long before the days of the dreadful lowest common denominator for instant fame, aka social media of today.

So it’s with some interest because of a decade + of direct onsite understanding of the High Arctic that I’m following the adventure of Pen Hadow, Explorer Extraordinaire. He seems to be an Expert of Arctic Attempts, so I’m quite sure he understands it can turn on you in a New York minute and terrify you to your core, even if you think you are equipped for the worst you can imagine, especially in this, the beginning of the downturn shoulder season for the High Arctic.

I’ve been within a few hundred miles of the North Pole on several occasions in different seasons. I see that at this moment (2017-08-22)  the #ArcticMission is about 850 miles away from the pole, and slowing in a logarithmic fashion. I would assume that is mostly because the winds are light at the moment, not that they are yet running into ice. ( I assume ‘wind’ as their main driver, because their basic published theme spins very green and ergo, anti-fossil carbon).

As I recall from the last century, even further north (of the 80th) this time of year at minimum ice, the straits were still open (in the last century), as I can recall watching the whales at sea around Ellesmere from the Twin Otter when we were heading into and around places like Grise Fiord.

Good Luck to you and your crew. I’ll leave it at that, with this observation: While FDR said there’s nothing to fear but fear itself, I would add that the real enemy is your modern ego, which is perfectly capable of vainly leading you to your date with the grim reaper without so much as  a sober second thought.

Follow up:  Sept 2017

Looks like the closest they got to the North Pole was 1100 Km away. They’ve turned back because of the Ice.  Considering their penchant  desire for attention, it seems very odd that they’ve gone silent on all their hashtags, their blog and so on.  Perhaps they’ve frightened themselves at the floe’s edge. Maybe the story is not unfolding as their twitter accounts would have you assume. Time will tell. If this ‘adventure’ to save the arctic just silently disappears as we head into Ice creep season, you’ll know.  For my part, I’ll just say “Told you So” unless I see that they’ve published a book that explains otherwise.

The Arctic always wins. Just ask Martin Frobisher, Captain of wooden sailing ships in search of the Northwest Passage centuries ago. You are just a guest on it’s terms. Mind your manners.

The Voyage as of August 31:

The minimum ice extent is measurably higher than it’s been since a decade ago (2007:)

-the old man

Feeling Small

Having spent nearly two decades as an Arctic Engineer and a longtime pilot, my most cherished memories are sitting alone in the cockpit of our company plane during the depths of winter flying from Yellowknife en-route to various High Arctic destinations.

For several hours it was pure joy to be part of that magnificent Northern Lights show dancing across the windshield as it performed an endless ballet from horizon to horizon, reflecting off the low unbroken stratus cloud sheets below.

Once you have touched the hem of all that is and have come to that realisation, it permanently changes your life.

I’ve had enough of the cold for a lifetime tho, and now choose to live in the comparative warmth of Victoria. But I do miss the Arctic in the compromise.

Thx for this beautiful reminder, Maciej Winiarczyk:

Click here> Northern Lights

-the old man

Andrew and John – Strange Bedfellows

Andrew and John – Strange Bedfellows

In our History of BC in the making, I’m not sure what to make of the Coalition King Maker, Andrew Weaver.  One of my Green leaning friends of UK descent worked tirelessly for the Greens and Andrew during the election, and she only had good things to say. We have had numerous discussions on relative scale and context about the whole climate change cause and effects, but our friendship supersedes all of that. Our backgrounds are very different, but we get along well. She has some valid points, as do I. We both know that we are skipping the tops of the waves in an ocean that has far more depth than we can ever comprehend or arrogantly declare certainty about outcomes.

Today I ran across this tidbit regarding the full-on pettiness of tiny mean spirited people like Michael (hockey stick) Mann who brought forward a SLAPP suit in BC’s Courts against Tim Ball. The article meandered from Ho-hum to the part where an alter ego of Andrew ‘Bob and Weave’ seems to have shown up in the middle of the same story.

Here’s the full link

Here are some setup tidbits from the article:

“In his books, articles, radio and television appearances, Dr. Ball has been resolute in his generation-long war against those who corrupted the field of science to which he had selflessly dedicated his life. Now aged 79, Ball is on the cusp of utter vindication. Despite the stresses and strains on himself and his family, Tim has stood at the forefront of those scientists demanding more openness and transparency from government-funded researchers.”

As Ball explains:

“We believe he [Mann] withheld on the basis of a US court ruling that it was all his intellectual property. This ruling was made despite the fact the US taxpayer paid for the research and the research results were used as the basis of literally earth-shattering policies on energy and environment. The problem for him is that the Canadian court holds that you cannot withhold documents that are central to your charge of defamation regardless of the US ruling.”

Then this Weaver bombshell plops off the page:

“The second defamation lawsuit involves Andrew Weaver and is scheduled for court in October 2017. We are not sure what will happen as Weaver, who was a lead author for the computer model chapter of four IPCC Reports (1995, 2001, 2007, and 2013), became a politician. He ran for and was elected leader of the British Columbia Green Party and is a sitting member of the provincial legislature. We must continue to prepare for the trial, but it is the prevailing view in the court system that if a scientist becomes a politician their scientific objectivity is compromised – it is considered the bias of a ’noble cause’.”

The Question …

So here’s my question: Will the real Andrew Weaver please stand up? Will it be the Competent Applied Mathematics nice guy his supporters thought they knew, or some overbearing narcissist of the “We’ll chase you ‘till you’re broke” SLAPP Climate Show he and Mike (USA) Mann have underway against poor old Tim Ball, the nice Canadian from Winnipeg?

The newly minted politician Weaver will have to stand up in the Legislature for all of us to evaluate. We’ll have to be watching to see who shows up: the nice guy that my friend worked so hard to elect, or the arrogant self-serving ego out to destroy anyone who might disagree or fail to fall in line.

On the other hand, John the happy new co-Premier seems to be a pragmatic guy, born of humble origins like myself, able to comfortably sit in a pub or a castle and commiserate with anyone.

I’m not so sure about the Weaver tho. Personally, I’ve found that Academic Tenure makes an otherwise reasonable soul somewhat unbearable and disconnected from the realities of the flock. I suppose tho, every rule can have exceptions.

Finally …

Is it just me, or do the coalition Andrew – John crew seem to be strange bedfellows smiling and waving at us from the bridge of the shiny new government ship of state as it pulls slowly away from the dock?

And more to the point, as the old sea shanty goes, which of them is the cabin boy?

Follow Up:

BREAKING NEWS (2018  Feb 13th, WUWT): Tim Ball’s free-speech victory over Andrew Weaver – all charges dismissed 

The back story here 

-the old man

The Plan to Weave(r) a Green BC

The Plan to Weaver a Green BC

At first blush, it pulls at your heartstrings and sounds like a thing to vote for and support. CBC, Global, the Huff along with many of my Green and social friends support the concept. Having been privileged to grow up in a very rural environment with a tiny environmental footprint, I get it from living a long time on my walkabout on this spectacular planet. Politically, the media gets that emotional part down well.

What I have noticed though, is the absence of any realistic STEM project analysis on how we get there from here, and how the wins and losses / debits and credits balance out when we do. Either the heart felt emotional supporters don’t know how to critically evaluate such a plan in engineering project terms, or they don’t  care to listen to anyone who can.

So let’s do a high level back-of-the-napkin look at the physical facts for realistically getting to the Greenest Fossil Free BC aspirations under the harsh light of real world pragmatism. Let’s start with the giant sucking sound from the Airport:

Currently, Vancouver’s Airport requires over 1000 loads of supplemental  fuel per month trucked across the border from BP’s Refinery in Washington State. The rest comes from Chevron’s Burnaby Refinery supplied by the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Every additional polar route flight to Asia will require another 800+/- truckloads per year.

Thus, the airport’s (ergo the City’s) growth is unsustainable even under current circumstances.  The default growth plan is to import even more fuel from Washington State by tanker and run a 13 km underground pipeline through the City of Richmond.  You could shut down Trans Mountain Pipeline and Burnaby Refinery, but unless you politically limit the airport’s growth, you are simply playing Fossil Fuel whack-a-mole.

The USA is more than happy to take the jobs and supply the Fossil shortfall necessary to feed the Airport’s colossal fuel appetite from Washington State. It will take a brave (or foolish) coalition to attempt to Green that ball and face the wrath of the interconnected downstream implications by deliberately hamstringing the very international Vancouver image by trimming anything airport. It’s probably a non-starter for Green, so we’ll move on.

• Eliminate internal combustion vehicles in the Lower Mainland in favor of EV’s. As an idea, sounds like it should be enforceable as a political objective.  Based on current stats, let’s look at the increased load demand that would be imposed on the Electrical grid. The total gasoline demand for Vancouver is approximately 185,000 barrels per day. That adds an additional 116,400 MWh per day electrical energy gasoline distillate equivalent to the grid. In terms of the additional average (not peak) generating load, it works out to about 4,850 MW more. (Ignoring peaks)

• Add in Vancouver’s single minded political plan to outlaw Natural Gas in favor of Electricity. The city will tell you that you can still use it “subject to”, but will make the city managed building code so difficult for a contractor to jump thru the regulatory hoops, that it will not really be viable as an option. Right now, Vancouver has a natural gas demand of around 26,000,000 Gj/Yr that will need electrical grid replacing. The Green Plan is to allow a green methane alternative, but that optimistically tops out at around 500,000 Gj/Yr, leaving 25,500,000 Gj/Yr to be replaced by electricity. That works out to an additional Grid energy load of around 19,500 MWh/Day, with an average (not peak covering as in winter) addition power demand of about 809,000 kW to the base load.

So where will that extra energy come from as Green input to the Grid? Well, the latest Political speak by the Green NDP Co-Op seems to be currently biased against Hydro as an option. PV Solar north of the 49th Parallel is of such a low density annual load factor as to be unworkable from a capital or physical geography point of view. Nuclear is out of the question. That leaves wind as the option.

Ignoring the intermittent unreliability of base-load wind vis a vis concurrent demand, what would Green Wind look like, assuming they can find sufficient sites that are suited to such an undertaking?

From the two Green bullets above, the extra reliable base load required to handle the demand for those two items add up to 5,658 GW, so we have:

• The Green Windfarm Nameplate Requirements, (using the accepted annual load factor of 12.5% from existing world sites) will need an installed capacity of 45,200 GW total Wind Turbines.

• Based on known current design density, the Net Windfarm Production acreage required to do that is about 2.8 Million Acres (@ 60 acres/MW). Add the supporting Service and Access acreage of approximately 550,000 Acres across the province to end up with about 3.25 Million Acres distributed somewhere outside Vancouver in Rural BC (which is not that Green-NDP friendly at the moment).

It should also be noted that if the Site C Dam (after the political uncertainty dust has settled) is considered politically “Green”, it has a design output of 5,100 GW. Even that is insufficient to cover off Green legislation for EV’s and Vancouver’s determined elimination of Natural Gas by a shortfall of about 550 GW demand.

Not considered in this discussion; – adding that much intermittent and variable weather wind power to the grid will require some type of potential mega stabilizing base load storage either by very large battery farms or pumped uphill hydro storage (think: looks like Site C) on a very large scale.  Easy to say.

Wind Turbines 101 Primer  *Link

Wind turbines are rated against the wind speed at which its generator will be able to produce its full rated, or nameplate, capacity, which is typically 1.5 MW in today’s models designed for on-shore use.

The rated nameplate wind speed is usually around 30 mph.

The turbine has a minimum wind speed at which it will begin producing minimal power, typically around 10 mph. The power output rises in a cubic relation to the wind speed. That is, if the wind speed doubles, the power output is able to increase eight fold. If the average wind speed of a site is 15 mph (half of the rated wind speed), the average power output will be one eighth of the nameplate capacity, or less than 200 KW.

At a wind speed around 60 mph, the turbine locks down.

For a look at the real world life cycle issues for wind farms, see this post on the site.

In Summary

To our next BC Government: Think this Green through objectively, and tread very carefully if you want political longevity and platform support with the fickle cash strapped and over taxed voters.

The comparatively small yet flexible Eco footprint taken up by Rurals won’t notice much change regardless of your Green Energy decisions, but the far more energy intensive dependent Urbanites will suffer where it hurts most: in their pocketbooks amplified by unreliable very expensive brown out energy piled on with supporting regressive taxes to pay for the plan. Just Google the growth stats for Vancouver. The lifeblood for such growth is Energy in all forms, including coordinated capital upgrades to the supporting infrastructure across the province. Such upgrades take decades to plan and construct, well beyond the uncertainty of the the politics.

While the wind in the willows is free, at this juncture the complicated Rube Goldberg thrashing Wind Energy machinery is a regressively expensive alternative for BC. Regardless of the voter’s Political preferences, the Urbanites need and depend on the Rurals more than ever for any Green Forward looking Plan that matters.

Sadly, the Politics in BC are a huge divide that will take great leadership to bridge. Time to show your stuff.

Australia’s Daily Telegraph shows how quickly it can all go politically sideways for one of the World’s Climate Leaders.  More to follow, for sure.   Link Here .

-the old man, in his preferred environment out on the land,  circa 1975

Today’s amazing moment

I come to the garden alone

As an old soul, knowing full well it’s my bonus round and that I’m lucky enough to still be able to work in our garden while trimming one of the oldest rose bushes, this wonderful essential carbon based example of living things (which we really know very little about outside of our self proclaimed superficial know-it-all arrogance) presented itself.

To be sure, I’ve seen these stick moth pupae before, but was always too absorbed by some trumped up self important life cause to really see that the DNA from which we all have evolved in infinite ways over millions of years branches effortlessly on with or without input from our egotistical hand wringing.

Behold, just one example of the 2017 twig impersonator. It must be good, because our yard is full of a variety of birds that are very diligent hunters looking for just such delicacies.

The garden this year is the best it has been in 30 years, and is in perfect balance with the show – a rich snapshot of the history of all that was, is now and will unfold in the dynamic cauldron of all our backyard carbon based DNA lifeforms in perfect non linear balance for each iterative step as it unfolds with or without our inputs.

Meanwhile, somewhere in big city, a bunch of pasty faced suited logicians, legislators and lawmakers try desperately to contain, direct and infill it all outside the infinite physical reality via some virtual rule based set of petty superficial logic, not realising that they are simply skipping the tops of the waves in an ocean that is ten thousand feet deeper than their made up cause and effect assumptions.

They are out of their depth, hopelessly lost at sea while straining at the oar locks using an assembly of broken compasses. Clearly, they don’t have a real sense of direction. That’s the price they pay for ego certainty, and the sad part is that they can’t even see it.

-the old man

Greater Vancouver’s Giant Sucking Sound

Thirteen of the province’s thirty most populous municipalities are located in Greater Vancouver. The official land area of the district is 2,877.36 square kilometers (1,111 sq. mi). It is the most densely populated region in British Columbia, and in 2016 had 2.4 million people. This represents 50% of the Provinces entire population of 4.8 million.

Under a proportional representation, the overwhelming direction of government will be biased towards the collective whims of the city slickers whose geography is covered by a thumbprint of provincial land that represents less than 1 percent (0.3%: 3,000 sq. km / 944,735 sq. km)  of the real estate and it’s massive external Maslow ladder of needs that are essential for the city to even exist, never mind thrive.

Let’s talk about the giant sucking sound of Greater Vancouver’s lifeblood and the importance of the dedicated support from the other 942 thousand sq. km required  to maintain its very heartbeat and continued existence :

Metro Vancouver’s ecological footprint in 2006 was equivalent to 10,054,400 gha. This represents an area that is 36 times the actual size of the region. Metro Vancouver residents have an average ecological footprint of 4.75 gha/ca.

This is nearly double the world average bio capacity demand, estimated at 2.7 gha/ca, and almost three times the global per capita bio capacity supply, estimated at 1.8 gha/ca (WWF, 2010). In other words, if everyone consumed at a level commensurate with that of an average Metro Vancouver resident, we would need at least three additional Earth-like planets to supply the resources and assimilate the carbon dioxide emissions to support such a lifestyle. If the impacts of senior government services were also counted, the need would be greater still. *

It all breaks down like this for Vancouver: *
• Food: 45% because of the large area required to grow crops et al for 2.4 million people
• Transportation: 23%, including private, commercial and public transit Fleet and Motor vehicles, Air Travel, and so on
• Buildings: 18%
• Consumables and Waste: 14%

So to hand over (to the narrow-focus consensus of city minded voter’s) full control of Provincial government for the other vast 99.7% of the supporting geography, purely on proportional representation creates an interesting dilemma. And, as the old curse goes, may you live in interesting times.

Back to hard reality, here are some STEM facts for you to consider as the new Green-NDP politicians come referendum knocking on that old recycled saw of Proportional Representation, (and a somewhat O.T. corollary :- before they figure out how to future dither the CO2 free Hydro Site C dam and the billions of committed construction  dollars into bureaucratic oblivion half way thru construction), know this:

• Half of the Provincial vote is concentrated in a small aggregated urban chunk of the country’s supporting geographical footprint (about 0.3%). Considering all urban cities across BC, that vote rises to 85% urban, 15% Rural.
• Living Urban allows the citizenry to delegate and offload the intense and time consuming human requirement to be self-sufficient competent universal problem solvers. In such a concentrated social setting, the economies of scale and commerce allow for narrow verticals for everything imaginable. No need to grow or hunt for your food, figure out how to store it, worry about massive energy needs, how to personally mitigate / resolve issues or anything like MacGyver would have to do just to get by. It’s all readily available, from niche skills like sewing on buttons to commuting home on the ‘A’ train. If you don’t like the service, simply tweet a complaint to the urban bureaucracy in charge to get it fixed. Done- Next!
• Rarely does an Urbanite give a second thought about whether the toilet will flush, or how the condo is actually heated and cooled, where the gas and electricity comes from, how the food gets to the supermarket, or what the myriad of mandatory resource requirements are, constantly inbound in the flux to maintain the City’s heartbeat.
• Urban concentrations require gargantuan feeder systems, thoughtlessly drawing food supplies and raw materials from across vast expanses of the (so called rural) country’s infrastructure in order to survive and thrive. They rarely think about or appreciate those massive inbound external energy grids, highways, water systems, hydro dams, railroads, communication networks, feeder farmlands and so on that are absolutely vital to their very concentrated and fragile existence.
• Urbanites need to give their heads a shake if they think they can survive without their Rural Cousins full and cooperative support. If the critical feeder chains are denied to the inbound supply chains even for a few weeks, it would classify as a category 5 crisis for Metro Vancouver.
• Be thankful the current voting system understands that without the whole geographical provincial land base being democratically included onside to deliver the Provinces lifeblood intravenous machinery into the Cities’ arteries, there can be no show. Urbanites, by their chosen preferred path, are typically not “MacGyver ready” for their selfish survival without the full cooperation of the other 99.5% of the physical rural land base delivering the goods and services to their doors 7x24x365.25.

The Proportional Representation meme, by its dominant 85%+ urban weighting (province wide) sitting on a miniscule urban pinpoint 0.5% strip of the total provincial real estate will always reflect an urban bias, and can easily drown out the 99.5% physical geographical land managers of the Country’s rural vote (to the urbans long term detriment and folly). Every rational parent outnumbered by their kids who love sugar instinctively knows that proportional family voting is not a great idea even if the kids whine about it not being fair. They should be careful what they wish for, but they never are.


* Journal of Environmental Management 124(2013) (51-61) “An urban metabolism and ecological footprint assessment of Metro Vancouver” – Jennie Moore, Meidad Kissinger, William E Rees

the old man: Born Rural, aged Urban and Rural planet wide over a lifetime. MacGyver savvy, MacGyver ready, STEM qualified.

Boston Dynamics 101

This kind of stuff is why I loved being a design engineer.

Success in a project never comes from the social media 97% group think consensus, it depends on the clear understanding of the  unbending laws of physics, differential equations, latency, timing, etc. – no matter how convincing a debater you might be among your peers.

When it all works out there can be no greater internal satisfaction, and above all,  no need to armwave and convince any random group in a badly lit bar that you actually understand what you’re talking about.

Boston Dynamics 101

-the old man

Popular Vote and the College


Urbanites, their Rural Sustainers, the Popular Vote and the Electoral College approach to Democracy


Let me first say that I have lived and worked extensively in both Rural and Urban settings over my 70 plus years on this earth. I have voted both left and right during my life, always considering the merits of the arguments of the day. I don’t have an ideological preference based on party for the purpose of this post.

As the World turns

The Physical Reality of the USA is that the bulk of the population (over 80%) is concentrated in a small aggregated Urban chunk of the country’s geographical footprint (about 3%).

Living Urban allows the citizenry to delegate and offload the intense and time consuming human requirement to be self-sufficient competent universal problem solvers. In such a concentrated social setting, the economies of scale and commerce allow for narrow verticals for everything imaginable. No need to grow or hunt for your food, figure out how to store it, worry about massive energy needs, how to personally mitigate / resolve issues or anything like MacGyver would have to do just to get by.  It’s all readily available, from niche skills like sewing on buttons to commuting home on the ‘A’ train. If you don’t like the service, simply tweet a complaint to the Urban bureaucracy in charge to get it fixed.  Done- Next!

Rarely does an Urbanite give a second thought about whether the toilet will flush, or how the condo is actually heated and cooled, where the gas and electricity comes from, how the food gets to the supermarket, or what  the myriad of mandatory resource requirements are, constantly inbound in the flux to maintain the City’s heartbeat.

Urban concentrations require gargantuan feeder systems, drawing food supplies and raw materials from across vast expanses of the (so called rural) country’s infrastructure in order to thrive and survive. They rarely think about or  appreciate those massive inbound external energy grids, highways, water systems, hydro dams, railroads, communication networks, feeder farmlands and so on that are absolutely vital to their very concentrated and fragile existence.

They need to give their heads a shake if they think they can survive without their Rural Cousins cooperative support. If the country’s extensive flyover geography for the various feeder chains decided to pull up the inbound drawbridge even for a few weeks, it would classify as a category 5 crisis for the concrete jungles.

Be thankful the broader democratic system understands that without the whole geographical land base democratically agreeing to insert the country’s lifeblood intravenous machines into the Cities’ arteries, there can be no show. Urbanites, by their chosen path, are typically not “MacGyver ready” for their selfish survival without the full cooperation of the other 97% of the physical rural land base delivering the goods and services to their doors.

The Popular Vote meme, by its dominant 80%+ Urban weighting  on a pinpoint strip of the total geography will always reflect an urban bias, and can easily drown out the 97% physical geographical resource base of the Country’s rural vote to their own detriment and folly.

Hence, we get to the Electoral College. The basic democratic process compromise as implemented understands that it needs to balance the voices of the comparatively few rural sustainers doing the heavy lifting against the overwhelming popular consensus of the demanding urban dwellers for the leader.  It’s not perfect because it’s a compromise and always remember, despite the seemingly marked differences of voting opinion you still need each other to make the Country work.

If you are on the losing side of this particular chapter, you need to try and understand why you lost the high ground after two successful wins, not how you can try and make it the winner’s fault by spinning it as their deplorable stupidity.  Get to work and do some convincing with those who did the ousting, else you will surely  lose again.  Don’t you see that whining and backbiting makes you look worse and convinces “the deplorable” tide that they were probably right?

-the old man

country living c/w  deer, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels and a blue heeler

Best Comment – This Just-in

Even in the combative, crazy comment section of  some controversial Main Stream media spin cycle,  one occasionally runs across truly great wit.  In this case, the soup du jour was about our PM, Justin (Instagram) Trudeau’s latest push to ram the Canadian Carbon Tax agenda on the Provinces and spin the  associated Tax as a constructive offset to the 30 Billion +/-  he’s already added and handed off to the Country’s National debt in his single outing so far.

A clearly intelligent and humorous individual with a nom de plume (or perhaps real name) –  ‘Penny Labrecque’ posted this in the comment section of the article re Justin’s Decree:

“Seeing they’re comparing him to the ‘boyfriend’, I think he’s more like a ‘nightmarish’ one-night stand. He makes a grand entrance into the bar, buys you a drink, throws every line in the book at you until he sweeps you off your feet. Gets you to bring him back to your place, and when you wake up the next morning, you feel used, he’s gone and so is your purse and wallet.”

Too funny Penny.  In this world of typically angry Social Media hits, You should become famous for all the right reasons. You get  the Old Man’s vote today.

the old man from ‘The Far Side’

Wind Turbines Wear and Tear


As a design Engineer and having personally spent many years flying complex mechanical machines with propellers, transmissions, gears, turbines, all subject to vibration and overall wear and tear has provided an instinctive sense of relevance as applied to design, operations and maintenance of such interesting machines.

It has always struck me that this whole mechanical wind turbine farm idea would likely end up as a very expensive proposition on a life cycle cost basis due to the inherent mechanical and physical complexity, regardless of whether it is approached on a preventative or breakdown maintenance strategy. There are the wind turbine wheels, the articulating blades, complex vibration management, bearings in the gearboxes, the gears in the transmissions, the generator, lubricating systems for the entire low speed and high speed shaft sides (yes, even wind turbines need dirty carbon based oil to operate, as well as ongoing routine oil changes, no different than other rotating machinery), yaw systems, computer control management and on and on.  Just to complicate the O&M support effort, all of this has to be carried out while balancing on a high pole on land or rolling sea.

Couple that idea with the relative low density of wind power for the large logistical footprint and the typical low load factor of direct wind based energy over the long haul drags the net economic return even lower.

Because wind farm turbine power cannot be relied on as part of the baseline grid power due to its intermittent and variable nature, it needs to be backed up 100% by solid high inertia predictable generating sources. Thus, the incremental capital costs for wind turbine farms (including grid modifications) must stand on their own merits for the full life cycle renewable cost analysis added to the grid. That is, wind power can’t be considered (subtracted) as capital replacement for taking existing predictable inertial grid capacity offline. (Although you can’t seem to tell the political scientists that to date. Fortunately, real physics, like gravity can’t be legislated).

The Cracks are Beginning to Show

In looking at sample literature online for large scale turbine specifications, industry and the government have the commercial turbine life optimistically  estimated at 20 to 25 years.  Just recently, the Telegraph has reported on a recent large scale study of 3000 onshore wind turbines that has found the actual lifespan in service is only 12-15 years. Compounding the bad news, the measured load factor drops to just 11% over that shortened span.  For the platforms at sea, it drops to 15% in just over 10 years because of the harsher environment.

See the full Telegraph Article here.

Quote: Dr John Constable, the director of REF, said: “This study confirms suspicions that decades of generous subsidies to the wind industry have failed to encourage the innovation needed to make the sector competitive.

“Bluntly, wind turbines onshore and offshore still cost too much and wear out far too quickly to offer the developing world a realistic alternative to coal.”

In Conclusion

You don’t need to be an accountant to see how the political push to wind farms has weighed economically on every place that has gone to scale in the rush to renewables at all cost. Regardless of how various governments might try to bury the accounting and taxes on executing their master renewable plan (and history says they will), big increases for the cost of Electricity are already ending up at the last mile lapping on the doorstep of the impoverished consumer. As a Canadian, its easy to see the very real economic pain this ‘rush to please’ on things like the Paris accord have inflicted on the citizenery.  Consider the current grief caused to our Ontario brethren. You can fool all of the people some of the time, etc.

It’s plain to see that the government there is on the run, but it can’t hide from the growing backlash.  I’m pretty sure there will / must be other international governments in similar boats rowing madly away from the dock .


mauiturbinesTurbines on the hill

The Price of Certainty

The Price of Certainty

By DANIELE ANASTASION NOV. 1, 2016  (Op-Docs, New York Times)

An aside: I’m putting put this thoughtful piece up as we reflect  on  the simplistic hard line “The Science is Settled” proclamation,  as it’s universally relevant to our human journey.  You should make enough space away from your daily distractions to watch it to the end.

– the old man


It’s alarming to see how polarized politics have become in the United States. The wider the gulf grows, the more people seem to be certain that the other side is wrong. Certainty can be a dangerous thing.

Two years ago, I met the social psychologist Arie Kruglanski while researching a documentary about extremism. Dr. Kruglanski, a professor at the University of Maryland, studies what motivates people to join terrorist groups like ISIS. My producing partner, Eric Strauss, and I had fascinating conversations with Dr. Kruglanski about the psychology of binary thinking, and decided to make a short film about his work instead.

Link to video here

Dr. Kruglanski is best known for his theory of “cognitive closure,” a term he coined in 1989 to describe how we make decisions. “Closure” is the moment that you make a decision or form a judgment. You literally close your mind to new information.

If you have high “need for closure,” you tend to make decisions quickly and see the world in black and white. If you have a low need for closure, you tolerate ambiguity, but often have difficulty making decisions. All of us fall naturally somewhere on this spectrum.

But during times of fear and anxiety — like, for example, right now — everybody’s need for closure increases. We tend to make judgments more quickly, regardless of the facts. We’re also drawn to leaders who are decisive and paint solutions in simple terms. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Dr. Kruglanski and his team of researchers found that as the color-coded terrorism threat system increased, support for President George W. Bush went up accordingly. The more uncertain our world seems, the more we compensate by seeking out certainty.

Dr. Kruglanski has spent his career studying the consequences of this psychology. This film is an effort to impart some of his wisdom as we navigate these uncertain times.

Link to the full Op-Doc here


Beyond Desire

Beyond Desire

It comes uninvited as the stillness of a lake under a full moon might.

All of that weighty space-time baggage fades away to an immense and singular perspective. There are no thoughts, no reactions, no you.

It’s the essence of pure mind, as it was before self-awareness claimed your throne; pristine and uncluttered, free to observe to the very depths without the anchor of time.

In that awareness, there is no response, no judgement, no call to arms; simply the profound truth of what is.

Some might call it the peace that passes all understanding, but those are just words      – the old man


The Problem with Continuity

The Problem with Continuity

Ego, that creator of your space-time constructs, endlessly builds an illusion of continuity and perpetual self-awareness while you walk this earth. The underlying truth is that there is only ‘being’ in the unfolding and perpetual ‘now’.

Everything else is make-believe, manufactured by your ego and the judgmental reaction that rises as vapor from the process you know intimately as ‘Me’. All your biases, reacting to what is ‘now’, are a measure of how far removed ‘now’ is from where your abstract biases ‘think’ it should be.

That manufactured separation is the Yin/Yang seat of all your joy, sorrow, love, hate, craving or aversion when compared to what is ‘now’.

Top athletes understand this, and refer to it as ‘unconscious’ (not so much boxing, tho), meaning there is no thought between the ball and the hoop /bat/club/stick to mess up timing.

The unwashed might call it ‘In the moment’.  Either way works – take your pick and stop thinking about it. Your lifetime scores will improve greatly out of the gate.

-the old man


The Harmonics of Grid Blackouts

The Harmonics of Grid Blackouts

And so it begins. On September 28th 2016, South Australia had a statewide blackout. Synchronous resonances, large AC Grids that have limited tolerances to fast changing step load inputs / falloff will spell disaster to the system re: input sources and sinks as well as the transmission grid itself. Based on what’s happening, it seems apparent that the engineering ‘due diligence’ was not so diligent for whatever reasons; – A question for the local elected political masters to answer in the dark.

South Australia’s Wind Power Disaster Continues (Click Here)

An articulate Engineer, Andrew Dodson was interviewed over two years ago by Scott Medwid and Rick Maltese on the subject of grid stability, and the impact of “green energy”.  It was a Prophetic advanced warning that foreshadowed the South Australia grid collapse of September 28, 2016.

Andrew Dodson’s articulate physical observations (Click Here)

As an aside, if you look down the comments beneath the YouTube piece, you’ll see the usual array of suspects attempting to discredit him.  Lacking the math, physics and understanding resonance implications of the harmonics , the Emotional Alarmists with their feet of clay, (clearly without technical understanding), parrot their negative diatribe anyway. As a Systems and Controls Engineer, suffice to say that the negative comments were made by uninformed trolls beneath the bridge of knowledge. Pretty much like it is today. Social Media 101.

The saving stopgap is that in the end, the physics of all this at scale will unfold badly under the various logic-free plans to win the political apparatus’s apparent objectives. Much like trying to legislate gravity by -2 units so that less people get hurt in wing suit crashes, they press on with their case.

Without thoughtful real world plans that accommodate the physics of the problem, it will be a fools mission heading for the scene of the crash.

Australian harsh Christmas Reality Check: Renewables Can’t Cope – ” it is becoming increasingly obvious that we cannot rely on renewable energy to run our grids..”

Pass the popcorn, please. I’ll be on the boat, off the grid, on the GenSet.


Loneliness and The Urge to Possess

Loneliness and The Urge to Possess

The urge to possess or to be possessed is a profound human trait that comes from deep within. That source is the center of loneliness. Each of us will try to fill that void in different ways: a belief system, an organized cause or some other form of activity. All such efforts are escapes and the deep loneliness still remains to be filled.

To commit yourself to some organization, to some belief or action is to be possessed by them negatively. The other side of that same coin is to possess. Positive possessiveness is the doing good, changing the world, what is to what should be under the guise of love.

To control or direct another in the name of love or otherwise is really the urge to possess. This binary system of possess/possessed is held together by the urge to find security, safety and comfort from loneliness. Yet it’s from this very attachment that conflict and frustration will arise.

So know this: There is no escape from loneliness. It is simply a fact, and when you try to escape facts you can only leave a trail that breeds confusion and sorrow.

Once you directly see this fact beyond thought and logic, the rest will fade away.

-the old man


For the Sake of Doing

For the Sake of Doing

To wander thru life always bent on doing things for the sake of something else is at the core of all dissatisfaction; a perpetual series of escapes and avoidance from your real self and what really is.

Western Society’s Values are based on this purposeful theme; – I do this for you, and you do that or give me something else. The ‘this for that’, ‘tit for tat’ motivational system has been refined and promoted by the concept of money as the universal exchange agent to cut those deals.  Modern Society abstraction is a long way from the shoreline of our hunter/gather days and ways, even though our DNA never left the dock.

Those who loudly practice their Virtuosity in order to gain approval of the respectable component of society are not exempt for their particular variation on the above theme. Really, it’s always the same empty field that’s been ploughed over and over by the many, but never actually sown.

You’d think that compared to our ancestors, we have it made. We live longer; better healthcare and such.  We have tons more free time thanks to technology as well as instant global communications.

In spite of the timeline freedom that modern society affords us, doing something simply for the sake of doing it is harshly judged. The end result of all that backdraft is to perpetuate the eternal emptiness of unending desire for more or different whatever, wherever.

Because of the above processes, we miss the singularity of true beauty beyond thought, feeling and desire. It’s a beauty that has no opposite, and is outside the reach of the busy Yin/Yang of Space-Time apparatus.

If you’re feeling there’s a lot missing in your cluttered up life, just quiet your mind and do something simply for the sake of doing it, without intent or motive for anyone or anything. You might get to directly understand (beyond thought) that’s really why you came here.

–          the old man


Climate Change -The Emperor’s New Clothes

Climate Change  – The Emperor’s New Clothes

Being half Danish , let me recall for you a short childhood tale by Hans Christian Andersen from 1837 about the weavers who promise the Emperor a new suit of clothes that would be invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. To those who don’t get the Danish drift, the Exec Summary goes like the old saw:

“You can fool All of the people some of the time, Some of the people all of the time, but Not all of the people all of the time.”

Everyone who walks this planet knows the Climate is ever changing on many levels. The spin to suppress and tag anyone who might not agree on the relevant influence of CO2 as a climate denier won’t prevail over the longer term as Climate Change cuts both ways.

Among the Mega and Minor Climate influences that move the massive Temperature needle  (either way) under miniscule changes, it seems that a marginal bit player like C02 has to be a long way down the list.

The question is – Who’s zooming who? How can anyone actually know the average temperature of the active thermodynamic globe at any moment in time? Yet it’s all packaged and clothed as certainty, that the mechanisms are well understood, and it’s about CO2; therefore the Science is settled.

The Weaver’s Tale

One day a couple of swindlers came to the Emperor’s capital city – boasting that they were the finest weavers of cloth imaginable. The kicker was that clothes made of their material possessed a wonderful quality of being invisible to anyone who was unfit for their office or unpardonably stupid.

The Emperor gave larges sum of money to the swindlers out of the Treasury, (in advance), so that they could set to work without any down time. They set up a couple of looms, and pretended to be very hard at work. They then asked for the finest silk and the most precious gold-cloth and worked at the empty looms till late at night. Very Impressive.

By this time, through a massive public service campaign, everybody was talking about the precious Carbon Cloth. As a savvy politician, the Emperor set up a Photo-Op to see it himself, while it was still on the loom. With a number of courtiers in tow, he went to see the clever swindlers, hard at work.

What the hell is this? thought the Emperor in his private inside voice, I don’t see bugger all. Am I stupid? That revelation would indeed be a Breaking Bad type news story if CNN or FOX find out.

The Teachable Moment

The rest, as they say (well, me anyway), is history. The masses get indoctrinated to the trending Emperor’s New CO2 Clothes, and the big celebratory parade is scheduled to take place in Paris.

When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, everyone in the streets said, “Oh, Wow.. The Emperor’s new Carbon clothes! They’ll fit the Legislative CO2 Bill perfectly going forward!

The social masses dared not tweet that they didn’t see any suit of clothes until an enlightened child shouts out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” The subsequent hashtag trends quickly.  “But he hasn’t got anything on!”…  the whole twitter-verse goes gaga and re-tweets the revelation across the entire universe in minutes.

At some point, the Emperor  suspects they were possibly right. But then he thought, “The show has got to go on. We need the sunk cost Tax Revenue to cover off the massive Weaver’s debt.” So he walked more determined than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all. It never left the station.

A Short Rant

At this point I was going to expand and profoundly compare the fundamental gaps and spin problems with the Climate Change political science chaos/mess, the deterministic and purpose CO2 directed modelling used for the ‘might-could-possibly happen’ prediction game, the Chicken Little fear mongering and hate welling up like Methane from the Tundra, the publically funded supporting money flows and the sketchy and selective data manipulation aimed at effectively cultivating and re-directing the minds of the masses.

But in going back thru the parable to set up the bullets, I don’t think I need to.  It occurs to me that the readers who typically come here aren’t at all stupid.

There is no Mega Infrastructure End to End Reset Plan to get us to Zero Carbon  over the next decades on any political table, other than to grab the money. Why, you ask? Because if they actually tried to draw it up, it would be full of holes.

Quite simply, The Emperor has no clothes.

In Danish, we sometimes say stuff like this:

  • jo mere tingene ændrer sig, jo mere er det samme


The Froth Line – Walking the Planck

The Froth Line – Walking the Planck

There comes a point where clear, logical and pure scientific exploration for fundamental truth arrives at a Venn intersection with metaphysics and produces insight that simply surpasses all mathematical understanding.

The law of unintended consequences

In the 1970’s, when computers were getting cheaper and more powerful (Compared to my Curta), along came Benoit Mandelbrot who said that things typically considered to be a mess or chaotic, like clouds or shorelines, actually had a degree of order. My interest was purely selfish at the time, and that was to figure out how to develop a stock trading application centered on his and other concepts around Fractals and Chaos to make money.

While I was writing the trading application, the meme I used for development was to look at the boundary of the Fractal set as a Froth line – the chaotic place where land and sand mix, where all bets are off for any given element in transition.  Questions like “will a chip in the froth end up on shore, or back in the sea after ‘n’ cycles”, “will it hang around in the froth line forever or not”, and “is there a ‘why’ that we can quantify and count on”. You get the idea.

So here we are, Forty years later, with more time and less self; the graphics and logic that Benoit used to create and display his Fractal Mandelbrot set are old friends, but no longer attached to money. We are now free to explore without agenda or purpose – a holiday from education, the science is settled, and must haves. Unintended consequences. Who knew?

The Fractal Froth Line

Metaphorically, the froth line separates the sand from the sea as the interface where the waves lap or crash along the shoreline intersection. Up on the beach, there is no doubt that it’s sand. Out in the water, it’s clear that’s the sea.

The Lawyer in you will hate this next part related to scale: At the intersection, where does the sea end and the sand start? To test your definition, how long is the shoreline?  You may well answer that it depends on your legal definition of scale and the elemental unit of dimension.

For the Fractal Froth line, you’ll have a problem. Scale is meaningless. Every piece of shoreline is infinite at every scale. No matter how far you zoom in, it’s still shoreline in full detail, and its DNA still looks familiar and recognizable. You have no idea if you are at Mile 0 or Mile 10 million, and the shoreline is just as complex to infinity. An Ant and an elephant walking the same shoreline on their own relative scale will tell similar stories to their offspring about the scenery and mapping of the bays and inlets along the way.

Walking the Planck

No, that’s not a typo. Read on.

To recap, driven by recursion, fractals are images of dynamic systems – the pictures of Chaos. There are things about the universe we inherently know that seem a bit strange. It is essentially chaotic, full of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. Without the Chaos and (strange and otherwise) attractors, it can’t evolve. At the same time, Fractal patterns are extremely familiar, since nature is full of fractals. For instance: coastlines, mountains, rivers, clouds, trees, plants, Climate, and so on. Geometrically and mathematically they co-exist in between our familiar dimensions.

The Fractal Recursion loop in space logically sets up the concept of time. You need to wait for the output from the underlying algorithm to feed into the next iteration at the lowest quantum level in order to build the next step. So, is there a limit in our universe as to how fast any Fractal system can propagate to the next iteration in time?

To think on that, take a moment to look at Planck’s constant on this side of the quantum limit of our understanding at the frontier of the known universe, where quantum uncertainty begins.

In physics, the Planck time is the unit of time in the system of natural units known as Planck units. It is the time required for light to travel, in a vacuum, a distance of 1 Planck length. Within that Planck timeframe and distance, we as observers can’t be sure what’s happened in the gap, or what the Master Magician is pulling off behind the scene.

Werner Heisenberg figured that out in 1927 and published the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Thus, our Fractal Natural Universe is essentially  in a quantum stop-frame space-time movie, one Planck frame behind the unfolding now which gets pre-set in the Planck-width bow wave gap running  in front of the universe, engaging and collapsing the endless quantum possibilities that unfold as the realized next recursive block of our particular fractal universe.

If you think this is nuts, (which well you might) know that the current search for the laws of physics, valid at the Planck length is a part of the search for The Theory of Everything. It seems possible that that the Planck gap has enough room for it all, recursively setting the hard limits of our physical space-time universe to this side of the gap, one step behind the now. So close logically, yet eternally out of touch to the mind’s eye. The Science is never settled

-the old man

There is a crack, a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in  – Leonard (Planck) Cohen   🙂


A Word on Enlightenment

A Word on Enlightenment

Anyone who tells you they are enlightened is not even close. The first part of the problem is that to attempt do so requires the DNA of language; – A Subject acting on a separate Object linked with a Verb.  Language exists in, and can only be understood in, the separation it defines and reinforces. In that sense, Enlightened as a described idea is not of the moment, nor can it be.

Enlightenment (remember that is just a word pointer trying to describe <“”>), is outside language and description, and can never be translated as a concept or place in our physical separation.

<“”> is of the infinite undifferentiated whole, unreachable to the I/Me/Self longing to go there as a place of inner peace. If you think you have been there, you haven’t. There is nothing to remember or bring back from the undifferentiated whole, nor could it ever make sense to anything remotely connected to the separate You/I/Me stuck in our space-time machinery.

<“”> will never show up if you desire it, meditate for it, or demand it. In fact, any emotion will bolt you down to Space-Time and keep you on this side of the curtain.

<“”> comes uninvited when you least expect it. You won’t know it in the moment, but when you drift back to thought, language and the daily grind, you will inwardly carry a profound  calm and direct understanding about the connected universe that is always unfolding as it should .

Regardless of why and where you have left to travel on this earth you will know this:

Nothing is wrong; – nothing ever can be wrong. 

It’s the singular truth that passes through the filters of our earthly understanding – Live your life to the fullest without fear or regret, with the wind beneath your wings.  That’s why you are here.

-the old man and one of his young man toys


Down Memory Lane . . .

Down Memory Lane

You may have clicked on this post thinking yet another Old Man was about to reminisce about the “Good Old Days”.  But you’d be wrong. Hang on to that thought as you read this.

Memory + Thinking team up as Ego to create separation from the unfolding ‘Now’ so that you can practically function, navigate and compare notes in the Physical Space-Time Universe that you and Einstein see as real. Without that module, you can’t effectively operate here. And, as it is said, you can’t get there from here. ‘Here’ is all about separation; ‘There’ is undivided all beyond thought.

So, you start earth-life at the umbilical cord connected to the blissful Now, but quickly build up enough memory and processing power to become self-aware. You fortify the concept of ‘Me and Mine’ by continuously creating custom distances between everything that Ego catalogues under the Action- Reaction Library Banner Module. (I made that up.. don’t Google it).

From this process emanates your Reality. Could be Success, Failure, Love, Hate, Banker, Bank Robber, Bank Teller, and so on. To the undivided universe it’s just the ever unfolding Now. To you,  it all depends on how it’s catalogued. The separation / pain / anxiety / joy / judgement that you continuously feel is rooted in your manufactured reality; – Not even close to the actual connected universe of ‘What Is’.

On the down side, Memory Lane is one of the major filters that can keep you locked into a specific life frequency, for good or bad, in a ditch or a castle.  For example, if someone did wrong or right to you and you carry that into the meet and greet for every new individual you run across, you don’t actually see the truth or potential of any new experience as it could evolve, but rather thru the filter of your memory .

There are a million other subtle biases that you bring to the table when you try to carry your past into the ‘Now’ with the associated memory baggage.  You keep circling the same old drain as long as you choose to stay tied to that particular leash. It’s why you sometimes make very bad decisions by ignoring “What Is” and depend on the sketchy Memory Module to be your guide.

So what to do, what to do . . . .

  • Actually, it’s pretty simple. To summarize, we live in a world that we understand in physical separation, always moving forward in time, creating our Space-Time Continuum. You can revisit the place where you were born, but you can never go back because that damn time part has moved on. The Smart Physics Guys put this way: The entropy of the Physical Universe is always increasing.. (Google that). Now get over it.
  • Space-Time is a complex construct of your mind that is the sum of your filtered sequential memory from the time the umbilical cord was cut to the trees you walked around, cities you lived in, loves and hates you shared up to this screen you are reading now.  The creator of that “Reality” is called  Me, I or your Ego, but it is just your life memory strung together,  carefully stitched and filtered across your own timeline biases to make up the virtual idea of the self you love or hate.  It doesn’t and can’t  exist in the moment.
  • Try as you might meditate, your Ego can never quite get to “Now”.  It’s explicitly excluded from the holistic connected dance of the Universe that knows no such separation as that created by looking down memory lane.

What to do, you ask? …. Let go.

-the old man



Three Score and Ten later … what’s it all about?

The takeaway from 70+ years of wear and tear in wandering around the planet distills into three words: Less is more.  The kids say that it’s easy for me to say that now, having had a pretty good ride, all in all. Perhaps they have a point, but maybe not. It doesn’t matter for the purpose of this note.

From 20 on into the 40’s it was all about the money dream.  When that didn’t quench the fire and bring on Nirvana, it was about upping the game which included chasing power in its varied forms ranging from respect to influence to being the top dog in the penthouse suite.

Chasing the dream is one of those things that are guaranteed to keep your finely tuned earth-ego separated from what is. “What is” is never right or wrong, good or bad, yin or yang, or in fact, anything you can comprehend with your earth mind. It can never be part of your familiarity with Einstein’s Space-Time physics limited by the speed of light.  It’s simply Now, totally connected and unfolding without you or your thoughts on the matter.

In fact, every thought that arises as a “Me/Them/It-thing” is the very act that separates your world of disparate ideas from the holistic Now. The distance between your desire/regret for/of a particular outcome and “What is” will always be a measure of your emotional pain or joy. As long as there is a ‘You’ at the scene, there will be that pain, joy or separation which can be measured as the gulf between your desire and the “What is”. You can never know “What is” in your busy life of separation; all you know is always looking back with joy or regret, and forward with expectation, anxiety or fear.  So the takeaway tip for this navigation-free note is simply :

  • If you are fearful or anxious, desire something or other at this moment, you are ahead of the Now.
  • If you feel joy, regret or depression at this moment, you are behind the Now.
  • If you are lost in a beautiful sunset or in the middle of a perfect golf swing – there is no you…. Congrats! You have touched the hem of Now … that is,  until you remember how great it was/is and feel the need to tweet. The trick is not thinking at all… in which case you have arrived then evaporated into the experience and are free to go… priceless!

-the old man