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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Dying from Diesel Exhaust in London

Could natural gas be the answer to London’s pollution concerns?

Over 8% of the deaths in some parts of London may be attributable to long-term exposure to man-made particulate air pollution, according to a new study from UK government body Public Health England.
The figures are highest for Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster (both at 8.3%), followed by Tower Hamlets, the local authority containing the international trading center of Canary Wharf (8.1%). In some rural parts of the UK the level is much lower, at around 2.5%.
Public Health England has called for policies to “encourage a shift from motorized transport to walking and cycling.” But making changes to the fuel mix could also provide substantial improvements.The majority of London’s 8,600 buses currently run on diesel, but switching to an alternative such as natural gas could provide both pollution and fuel cost benefits.
Natural gas is a much cleaner fuel, producing almost zero particulates, as well as reduced carbon dioxide emissions. Fuel costs may also be lower for gas than oil in coming years.
In mid 2008, UK annual gas contracts, in oil-equivalent pricing (assuming 5.8  million Btu to the barrel), were more than $100/barrel. But after the financial crisis of that year, gas was slower to recover, and gas is now priced much lower relative to oil, at around $60/bbl against more than $100 for Brent crude.
In the US, the shale gas boom of recent years has broken the link between oil and gas prices, and there could be potential for further price divergence between natural gas and oil in Europe should the shale industry take off in Europe too.
The UK has a well-established pipeline network offering access to gas throughout the country. Transport activities that follow regular routes, such as city buses or motorway haulage, seem best placed to switch to gas, given the possibility to make regular returns to a refueling station in advance of a wider filling network being developed.
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John Baldwin, a former British Gas engineer who now runs a consultancy on Compressed Natural Gas filling stations,  told Platts that the London gas grid offers “fantastic” opportunities for fuel switching, with gas next to every bus depot, and it would be “very easy to go to CNG.”
The town of Reading, west of London, has 20 CNG buses now in operation, he said, while in the US, Los Angeles has thousands.
“CNG buses are here now, a great solution,” Baldwin said. He added that using food, agricultural or sewage waste to produce biomethane could make them carbon neutral too.
A spokesman for Transport for London said, however, that its current focus is on switching around 20% of its fleet (about 1,700 of 8,600 buses) to hybrid diesel-electric by 2016.
There are currently eight hydrogen-fueled buses on trial in London, as well as two electric buses, with a further six electric buses due later this year.
The spokesman said that for the requirements of London’s transport service, and bearing in mind space limitations for refueling in depots, it saw hybrid technology as “leading the way” at present, adding that there are not yet any double-decker gas buses on the market.
Baldwin says that double-deck gas buses are now “being developed” and that London could make a start with the large number of single-deck buses already in operation in the city. TFL says that it does keep options under regular review.
The wider gas industry is likely to be supportive of any moves toward greater use of gas as a transport fuel. Inroads into a new sector would offer potential for growth to partly compensate the greatly reduced consumption of gas in power generation seen in recent years.
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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Colleen and Eric ( No Sinner ) Acoustic and Amped

Colleen Rennison and Eric Campbell, from Vancouver are going bigger and international with the band No Sinner.

Google "No Sinner Tour" to get dates for this spring and summer.

Amped up...

Foo Fighting Zeppelin

Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins ( Foo Fighters ) and John Paul Jones with Jimmy Page ( Zeppelin of course) crank out "Rock and Roll."
Taylor does a great job of belting out the vocals.

After this, they switch positions and Dave sings "Ramble On"'s a bit of a train wreck. A classy train wreck. The kind where the first class passengers in tuxedos clutch on to their martinis as they get tossed about the cabin. It's still a train wreck though.
You'll have to look that one up yourself.

It takes a full 3 minutes to get to the music.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Spiller Channel Rainbow

On the way to night shift ...building logging roads in the mid coast black and wet. A rainbow...the end of the rainbow...foretells good fortune and most excellent days ahead.
12 hours of rain,rock and slippery mud.
Laughing at the lamest jokes.
Head down against the rain and wind.
One meter ahead at a go.

Ryan...wasting valuable company time taking pictures of rainbows.

Beat use of the 892.....dead weight.

Ryan...grappling with the rainbow issue

How does that grab you?

Snass lake Resort and Spa the end of the rainbow

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Surf Lessons in Mazatlan

 I wanted to find surf lessons in Mexico...

I got in touch with Mazatlan Surf Center by email to ask about lessons for my two kids. Alistair responded quickly to all my questions.


65 U.S. dollars per hour.  ( teaching my two kids )

Each class is two hours long.

Wet suits and rental boards included in the price.

pick up at our hotel and drive to the surf beach

expert/ hands on instruction

excellent beach to learn on.

I highly recommend that if you are interested in learning to surf, or to perfect your "pop-up"....that you get in touch with the shop and reserve a morning lesson  (or two like we did )

Miguel was our expert and friendly instructor on both days. He picked us up at our hotel, right on time.... with surf boards hanging out of the trunk of his car. The beach of choice was the magnificent La Bruja out at Cerritos ( North end of Mazatlan by the Riu resort )

On both days there were perfect waves for beginners and advanced surfers. Great location, great waves and a sandy bottom...very nice all around.

Miguel is very attentive and supportive....after the dry land lessons, he will be in the water with you the whole time. Every victory is celebrated, and every wipeout is analyzed for improvement ( with a smile )

It's all very gentle, and the locals are just fine with newbies in their midst.

Warm water
Hot sand and sun
great waves
Expert instruction by a passionate, nice guy

I can't imagine what you are waiting for!!

PS  Mazatlan has shaken off it's reputation from a couple years ago. It is totally safe and tourist friendly. You can walk down any street, take the city bus, and dine wherever you choose. It's a very laid back and welcoming scene.
Just don't act anymore stupid there than you would at home...Don't be drowning yourself in tequila. 

Excellent post surf meals and drinks at Lucky B's or Joe's Oyster Bar by the beach in the Gold Zone.

Dry land instruction by Miguel of Mazatlan Surf Center

Balance and position

Class is in session

Miguel will teach you how to handle the waves

Who turned off the gravity button?

Knowledge, control, timing and lots of practice

Body boarder at La Bruja

Local guy doing body board acrobatics at La Bruja, Mazatlan

High speed body board run at La Bruja, Mazatlan

Air time

Notice the tents for the surf contest up there on the right

Surf lesson success

expert and passionate guidance from Miguel of  Mazatlan Surf Center.

The best classroom in the world

Local guy stirring it up at the deep end of the pool

The action at La Bruja, Mazatlan

Body boarder and surfer action at La Bruja, Mazatlan

There is only one wall at surf school, and Miguel will teach you how to deal with it.

On to bigger waves

The perfect Mexican beach experience

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The History of Johnnie Walker Scotch ( video )

I'm not a scotch drinker, but this video is fun and really well done. The actor, Robert Carlyle gets it all done in one take....but it took 40 tries to get it right.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Vancouver Sun...Investigating Work Place Deaths

Calls renewed for criminal prosecution of workplace deaths


But criminal negligence under the so-called Westray provision is “very difficult” to prove when workers killed, experts say

By Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun January 24, 2014
Calls renewed for criminal prosecution of workplace deaths

Rescuers gather at the entrance to the Westray mine after an explosion trapped 26 miners underground on May 9, 1992.

When the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch announced earlier this month that no charges would be laid in a deadly sawmill explosion in Burns Lake, the families of the two victims killed in the explosion were outraged.
They could not believe that there would be no legal reckoning for the deaths of Robert Luggi Jr., 45, and Carl Charlie, 42.
Each man had three children who are devastated, said Lucy Campbell, Carl’s sister. “They want some kind of justice,” she said.
In addition to the deaths of Luggi Jr. and Charlie, 20 workers were injured in the Jan. 20, 2012 blast at the Babine Forest Products sawmill, which is majority-owned by Oregon-based Hampton Affiliates.
The question of justice as it relates to deaths in the workplace has become a pointed one in the aftermath of the Crown’s decision.
As often happens in cases where charges are rejected, labour groups have renewed calls for a more focused and tougher approach to investigating and prosecuting workplace deaths. Last year in British Columbia, 149 workers died from injuries or diseases.
Three months after the Burns Lake blast, an explosion at a Lakeland Mills plant in Prince George killed two workers and injured 23. WorkSafeBC is expected to hand over that investigation file to the Crown next month for potential charges.
Groups such as the 450,000-strong B.C. Federation of Labour and the United Steelworkers want the so-called Westray Mine provision in Canada’s Criminal Code to be called on more often to prosecute companies and its officers with criminal workplace negligence.
Legislation to create the workplace criminal negligence offence was drafted after a in 1992 explosion at Nova Scotia’s Westray underground coal mine killed 26 men.
In the Westray case, workers were repeatedly sent into the mine by managers who fully knew the dangers of coal dust explosions. The Westray provision was intended to crack down on the most egregious cases.
As a result, the threshold for criminal workplace negligence is very high, requiring “wanton and reckless disregard” for the lives or safety of workers, according to the Criminal Code.
To prove criminal negligence, you not only have to prove there was criminal behaviour, or wrongful conduct or omission, but also intent, according to Ken Thornicroft, University of Victoria professor of law and employment relations.
“And that’s a very difficult thing to show in a workplace environment, that somebody actually intended to injure somebody or cause their death,” Thornicroft said. “And that’s a very high hurdle for a criminal prosecution. And so, it’s going to be quite the extraordinary case before you get into the area of criminality.”
Although the consequences of the Babine explosion were dire, the explosion itself caught British Columbians by surprise. A wood dust explosion had never blown up an entire sawmill in the province before.
The Crown report outlining its rejection of charges points out the owners would have been able to establish they could not have reasonably foreseen that sawdust would cause a catastrophic explosion, and that they had taken reasonable measures to mitigate hazards they did foresee.
WorkSafeBC recommended regulatory charges of failing to remove combustible dust and failing to ensure the safety of workers.
Even though the standard for a regulatory prosecution is lower than for criminal negligence, the charge did not meet the threshold, according to the Criminal Justice Branch. And WorkSafeBC was cited by the Crown for not obtaining search warrants and advising company officials they interviewed of their charter rights to remain silent, which undermined any potential conviction.
Nationwide, there have been few charges laid under the Westray provisions, and even fewer convictions.
Most have been directed against individuals involved in small firms.
In British Columbia, no company has been subject to a prosecution for workplace criminal negligence. (Last year, the Queen of the North’s navigating officer was found guilty of criminal negligence in the ferry sinking, but that was for the deaths of two passengers, not workers).
Last October, the Criminal Justice Branch announced it would not pursue charges against Craigmont Mines in the death of equipment operator John Wilson, 61, who drowned in 2008 when his excavator tipped over into a man-made pond at the mine near Merritt.
And in August 2011, the justice branch directed a stay of proceedings in a United Steelworkers-initiated criminal negligence prosecution over the 2004 death of New Westminster sawmill worker Lyle Hewer, 55.
Critics say there is a fundamental problem that stymies criminal prosecutions in all workplace incidents.
Investigations are often treated initially as workplace inspections before evolving into investigations. That means evidence and interviews are not conducted with a criminal prosecution in mind, where warrants and advisement of charter rights to remain silent are needed. And when the police are involved, they do not have as much expertise — or the resources — to investigate workplace fatalities, add critics.
This flawed process undermines any possibility of building a case for a criminal negligence prosecution from the very beginning, says Vancouver lawyer Janet Patterson, who represents injured workers.
“You haven’t got any chance of laying charges, where it is appropriate, if you don’t do the investigation right,” said Patterson, who practises at Rush Crane Guenther.
Patterson was a co-author of the 2009 B.C. Federation of Labour report, Insult to Injury, about B.C.’s worker compensation system.
Premier Christy Clark has ordered a review (headed by her deputy minister John Dyble) of the WorkSafeBC investigation into the Burns Lake blast and subsequent Crown decision, but Patterson says that’s not enough.
She says a full-blown inquiry is needed to design a system to properly investigate and lay charges in workplace deaths.
The United Steelworkers (USW) and the B.C. Federation of Labour have also called for a review and substantive changes.
Last year, the USW launched a national campaign called “Stop The Killing, Enforce the Law.” As part of its campaign, the union called on provinces to train and direct Crown prosecutors, police and regulators such as WorkSafeBC to pursue greater enforcement and training.
USW western Canadian director Stephen Hunt is blunt when he states the union’s objective: They want the Westray bill enforced. “We think if you enforce the Criminal Code and actually put a CEO in jail or threaten to put them in jail, it would be a paradigm shift in how health and safety is administered in Canada,” Hunt said.
Adds B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair: “I don’t think the Crown has taken a single criminal case in the last 15 to 20 years based on an accident on the work site.”
James Gorman, CEO of the Council of Forest Industries, was reluctant to comment on the justice branch and WorkSafeBC’s roles in bringing forward criminal negligence prosecutions.
But Gorman said both WorkSafeBC and sawmills his organization represents have the same goal — creating a safe workplace.
Some observers say it will take more than a review or additional training to increase the potential for criminal workplace negligence cases to be prosecuted: that a culture shift is needed.
“We live in a society that just never has seen these kinds of things as being potentially criminal,” says University of Ottawa professor Steven Bittle. “The reflex is to see them as accidents.”
Even those tasked with investigating workplace deaths are not immune from seeing them as accidental, says Bittle, author of the 2012 book, Still Dying for A Living, which reviews the Westray criminal negligence provision and how it has been used.
Bittle noted the structure of law is also problematic for dealing with workplace deaths because it’s best equipped to deal with one-on-one violence — a murder on the street, for example.
“The law can make sense of that pretty easily, but it becomes very difficult for law to make sense of organizational responsibility,” said Bittle.
Even if the changes the unions and lawyers such as Patterson are calling for were to be implemented, there’s still no guarantee of workplace criminal charges suddenly materializing in British Columbia.
Vancouver lawyer Carman Overholt, Q.C., who represents companies in workplace injury cases, said he believes the Criminal Code provisions are meant for exceptional situations where individuals and organization have complete disregard for safety.
He argues the charges possible under provincial law, and most often used by WorkSafeBC, provide strong penalties, including steep fines and the possibility of jail time.
“That may not be responsive to people who have lost loved ones in the workplace or have loved ones injured,” he said. “But in terms of the legislation and how workplaces are regulated, that system has functioned very, very well.”
Toronto lawyer Anna Abbott, who specializes in occupational health and safety law at Gowlings LLP, notes that the Westray provision is a relatively new law.
She co-authored a 2011 paper on the Westray provision entitled, Bill C-45: Has the Sleeping Giant Awakened to Become an Employer’s Worst Nightmare? that outlined recent cases but noted the high threshold needed for criminal prosecution.
Abbott expects that with cases such as the Burns Lake explosion coming to light, there will be increased training and increased understanding of evidence handling. “It will start to evolve,” she said.
The B.C. Liberal government’s review — called “urgent” by the premier — could provide some direction on how significant workplace death incidents will be handled going forward, although that’s not entirely clear.
Clark has said that if there are lessons to be learned from the decision not to lay charges in the Burns Lake explosion, she intends to learn them.
But she also said she has to respect the Crown’s decision.
WorkSafeBC already has an agreement in place with police forces in B.C. to conduct workplace safety investigations. It was recently updated to formally include the RCMP.
The updated agreement includes “an ongoing commitment” to combined training between WorkSafeBC and police forces on how to conduct workplace injury or fatality investigations, says WorkSafeBC director of investigations Jeff Dolan.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Two Aviation Oddities..Plus One That Should Have Made It

I love finding oddball aircraft creations that made it from the designers brain-pan to reality ( and then usually to the scrap heap )

Hears a mind twister.

 PZL M-15 Belphegor

Designed and built by the Czech aviation wizards, a jet powered biplane. Conceived as a flying workhorse to deliver crop dusting and fire-fighting services with great "low and slow " performance. 
Unfortunately, the jet engine was a bit of an issue, and burned way too much fuel for the task at hand. 
Maybe they should have went old school and put a big radial engine in place of the jet...or a turbine driving a big prop.

Video here...


The next flying oddball  is a Russian creation. It's pretty good idea, but complex in all respects, especially considering the vintage. It was a lifting power-house that set all kinds of records, before  technical issues drove the project to cancellation. The Kamov Ka-22. ( Decades before the troubled V-22 program )

The Ka-22 Wiki page....

Video here...

And finally, the machine that really should have made it into full production...or maybe I just like the old school British enthusiasm in the promotional film.

The Fairey Rotodyne.

Monday, 13 January 2014