ebay chicken

For the last week or so, I’ve been playing eBay Chicken. I have to say, I’m pretty good at it.

The trick is to bid as high as possible on an item that you might want, but not high enough so you might actually get it. So far, I have bid on about 7 items, and quite failed to get any of them. I’m pleased to say that on a couple of them I was the second-highest bidder.

In a small way, I’m doing my part for the world gross domestic product. And doesn’t that feel good?

Update: The above is all well and good unless you happen to be in a just woken up and befuddled state, and realise that the auction you just bid on was in GBP, not CAD, and thus you’re just about to pay twice as much for something …

Frosty’s Drano (or the snowmen’s suicide pact)

Catherine pointed out that the current Tim Hortons “Happy Holidays” campaign depicts an ill-advised, possibly fatal, beverage choice for snowmen:

tim hortons suicidal snowmen

To me, it’s clearly a suicide pact. They don’t want to see another summer. They’re going to a better place where it’s always ten below.

best … Leonards … EVER!!

best mini traffic cones ever

I found we had some of the best mini traffic cones ever in the office. They’re really tough, made of a kind of squishy plastic. We also have full-sized ones of the same material. Don’t know where we got them, but if Robyn Hitchcock ever starts up his cone artwork again, these would be perfect for miniatures.

What Every Householder Should Know

do not use on aluminum warning from washing soda package

According to the CBC, a Canadian has patented a method for extracting hydrogen from aluminium. While this patent has some extra specifics to deal with managing the reaction, it’s not that far removed from the old home science trick of dissolving aluminium foil in washing soda. Indeed, every box of washing soda I’ve used has come with the warning message above.

It takes a lot of energy to form aluminium from its various ores. According to an Alcan report, it takes over 15.5 kWh/kg to do this — that’s over 55 MJ of power per kg of metal. Smelting aluminium can also be massively polluting. I’ve heard tell that the smelting plant near Fort William used to turn the surrounding hillsides yellow from the fluorine emssions.

I haven’t done the sums properly on how much hydrogen a kilogram of aluminium will produce when reacted with caustic soda, but it’s probably going to be less energy than it took to form the metal. You’d also have to deal with disposal of alumina sludge at the end of the reaction, which is mostly harmless but bulky. There’s also a huge amount of heat evolved by the exothermic reaction, and thereby not turned into useful chemical energy. It’s a similar reaction those caustic soda/magnesium metal chip drain cleaning powders, and you know how hot they make the drainpipes.

This patent seems typical of many of the methods that are being thought up in our mad dash to a hydrogen economy; uneconomic, inefficient and ill-advised. But you can’t criticize it publically, ‘cos everything going to be running on hydrogen soon, isn’t it?