Sarah’s Solar Art

Sarah Hall works with glass and light, and her most recent commission for Regent College in BC combines solar photovoltaics and an LED light show into the installation. It’s a beautiful design, and I’d like to thank Sarah for inviting me to the official unveiling yesterday.

Hwy86 Turbine

AOC 15/50 near Listowel

I think it’s an AOC 15/50; note the downwind design and prominent blade tips.

It’s near Mornington, which is SE of Listowel on Hwy 86. Catherine and I spent the weekend in Goderich, and we came home the scenic route through Wingham and St Jacobs.

This wind study brought to you by the Canadian Nuclear Association

So there’s a new report on wind integration in Canada, written by The Conference Board of Canada. People are picking up on it, and even the doughty Refocus quotes… electricity from onshore wind is uneconomic in comparison with traditional alternatives“. Hmm.

So I read the report, and what do I find in the Preface?

As part of an ongoing initiative to investigate energy policy options and the future of the Canadian energy system, the Canadian Nuclear Association contracted The Conference Board of Canada to conduct a comparative study of various countries’ experiences with supporting and implementing large-scale wind projects.

So we’re expected to believe that the CNA would wish to have an objective and non-partisan report written on wind power, eh?

go train chkdsk

so *that\'s* what these displays are running!
One of the GO information signs was knowing a difficulty this morning. Looks like they’re something like a Mini-ITX box running Windows XP, but I’d rather I didn’t know that.

At least the signs (when they work) are better than they used to be.

I (heart) languagehat

languagehat, on begging the question:

This is one of those issues that is catnip to the adolescent language-lover but which a sensible person grows out of. I too used to enjoy tormenting people with the “truth” about the phrase, but I eventually realized that, whatever its origins … I had never seen or heard the phrase used “correctly” except by people making a point of doing so (cf. “hoi polloi”); in current English usage, “beg the question” means ‘raise the question,’ and that’s that. I got over it …
[T]his … is a sign that the language has sailed on, leaving wistful archaists treading water and clutching at the stern.

big windfarm, big deal

So there was a stramash that the RSPB published a map showing where the Lewis wind farm would reach if it started in Edinburgh. Oh noes! Looks like it’d go all the way to Methil.

I’ve been working on a couple of medium-sized wind farms in Ontario. For top laughs, I tried overlaying them on Scotland, using streetmap.co.uk for the measurements.

Since I’m a weegie, I started at George Square. One of the farms would stretch all the way west by Wishaw, near Murdostoun Castle (and the comically-named town of Bonkle). The other would run north to somewhere between Fintry and Kippen, in Stirlingshire.

For those of you unlucky enough to be based east of Falkirk, I tried the same starting at Edinburgh Castle. The first wind farm would run west to the hamlet of Gilchriston, which is just north-west of Dun Law Wind Farm, which I worked on in the distant past. (If you run the farm west from Edinburgh, you end up in Bo’ness, which no-one would want to do.) The other design would end up somewhere between Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes, near Thornton — and not that far from Methil, a distance that the RSPB would have us believe is just too far for a wind farm.

So, where’s the news, RSPB? How did your land get somehow more precious than ours?

hitting the 400k-clicks

paul\'s subaru hits 400000 km
Paul’s Subaru hit 400,000km today. This, according to Nick — who is also a car mechanic — is quite something considering it’s on its original engine and transmission, and hasn’t had significant engine work done to it.

ex dexit, or trying to be

Coo, was I really all fired up about Dexit, like I appear to have been in January 2004? ‘Cos, basically, Dexit sucks.

The coffee place I get my morning fix got rid of its unreliable Dexit machine when it changed hands. So I’ve got nearly $70 sitting on the useless Dexit tag, doing nothing.

Today I called for a refund, and discovered that Dexit won’t refund your balance. I wouldn’t have signed up for it if I’d known there’d be this in the ultra-sneaky Dexit user agreement (PDF):

Only in the event of your death (and upon receipt of such documents as Dexit reasonably requires in such circumstances as to whom is entitled to your estate funds), or Dexit closing your Dexit Account without cause, will the remaining funds in your Dexit Account be repaid to you. “Cause” will include any violation of this Agreement, any fraud or attempted fraud, any other operation of the Dexit Account or use of a Dexit Tag in an unsatisfactory manner, or non-use of your Dexit Account for over three (3) years.

So, do I hafta kill myself to get my money back?

Oh, and Dexit’s phone support staff are untruthful. I needed to speak to a supervisor. They promised one would call before 8pm this evening. It’s 9:55 now, and I’ve heard nothing.

all around the lakes

Had an impromptu visit to Port Burwell today to fix a cranky cell modem. It was also my first experience of driving a stick shift — and not just any stick shift, one with 400Kclicks on it — on the wrong side of the road. It was weird, but since I neither wrecked the car nor hit anything, I think I got the hang of it.

Anyway, no trip to Burwell is complete without a visit to the Lighthouse Restaurant for fresh fried lake perch. While I was there, I got chatting to a couple from Chicago who were working on their plan to cycle round a Great lake each summer. By doing this, they were hoping to appreciate the scale of these huge bodies of water. Neat plan.

One day, when I’m a Celebrity Windfarm Designer with my own television show, I’ll take a summer off to go round Lake Erie.

crossing sonar

They’ve just installed a new crossing system at Kennedy & Eglinton. The crossing buttons emit a loud ping every second or so. I think this is supposed to help partially-sighted people find the crossing buttons to activate the signal.

This would be a good idea if the things weren’t so loud. I could hear the things a block south of the crossing, over the traffic noise of Kennedy, and the lunchtime playground at the school.

I wonder what Spacing would say? Noise pollution makes a huge dent in the amenity of public space.

danger sign

Danger: Fast Food Kills; made with St Claire Inc Sign Builder

I’d hate to be the webmaster at St Claire, Inc this morning. Seems that dweebs like me have discovered Sign Builder 2.0, and are hitting it hard.

too much information

Too much information, Toronto Union Station

I’m only an amateur at information design, but I know bad information when it nearly causes me to miss my train.

The above image (which links to a larger version) is one of GO Transit‘s new information screens at Union Station. It shows all outgoing bus and train traffic from Union Station for the next two hours or so.

What the used to have was a slightly mouldy old teletext system, where the screen was split roughly into three colour-coded segments: two segments about the next departing train on two different train lines, and the bottom third a big digital clock. You could read the time from across the GO concourse, so you could tell instantly if you had to run for the train.

This new display, you pretty much have to be underneath it to see the time. Also, if you’re a train commuter, you don’t want to know what happens in the next two hours. All you want to know is if you’ve missed your train. This is not an airport.

I know the old system left out bus passengers, but buses don’t exactly leave from the same concourse as the trains. They should have their own information board.