Daily archives: May 3, 2005

Little Castles

Muswell Models make cast buildings, primarily for model railways. The range of OO/4mm pillboxes interests me (there are even more in 2mm/N scale, but that scale doesn’t appeal as much to me). I have visions of a diorama at a crossroads with bored squaddies peeling spuds and stripping Vickers machine guns as they wait for an enemy that may never come.

Pillbox information-
20th century war
Pillbox types
The spigot mortar (not strictly related, but interesting nonetheless.)
Pillboxes and defensive positions around Mount Bures in East Anglia

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Elephant Poop

The Rosamund Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY, has a pack of elephants producing 1000lbs of dung a day. This steaming pile, with the output of all the other animals, costs $10,000 a year to take away and be dealt with. On top of that, the zoo has heating bills of $400,000 a year. In a bid to solve one problem and reduce another, they are looking into using all that shit to generate heat.

“Zoos are about conservation and stemming the loss of animals and habitat,” Baker said. “But conservation also is about how people use natural resources. This is an opportunity to give visitors the whole picture.”

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Slot Cone Generator

From Norway, a country with a long and rugged coastline made up of all Slartibartfast’s squiggly bits, comes a design for harnessing wave power and using it to generate a steady, rather than tide-related, flow of energy. The Slot Cone Generator is a breakwater with four slots on its face. As a wave breaks over it, the water fills reservoirs through the slot. The system doesn’t generate electricity directly from the wave’s energy, but from the stored kinetic energy of the water carried up to the reservoirs, releasing it over a period of hours. To further increase the flexibility of the system, it’s planned to use excess electricity to create hydrogen for fuel cells etc.

via sustainablog

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It’s kind of appropriate that Darren at ProBlogger should start comparing blogging to farming (and more here) just before I launch Dig. The Spinneyhead family are organic blogs, nurtured with loving care as best I can on a limited budget using only the materials that are naturally available to me. And with that, I think I’ll kill that analogy.

I am spreading out and finding niches. But they are subjects I’m interested in, not ones I think will make me a fast buck. It’s a sign of what a confused young man I am that they are so different. I can hardly see someone who would be interested in Digest wanting to know what’s going on at Scale, or even here at the main page for that matter. And this is a good thing, because it’s that diversity that will make sure Spinneyhead thrives.

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Around the Spinneyhead family

Digest is dedicated to matters of food, which is why it got first dibs on Grocery Store Wars, a very funny Flash parody-cum-call to arms for the organic movement. Obi Wan Canolli mentors young Cuke Skywalker in the ways of the Farm so he can battle Darth Tater, who is now “more chemical than vegetable”.

Dig is spun off from Digest. It’s going to cober organic gardening, urban gardening, guerilla gardening and anything else related to growing your own food. This isn’t about those prissy, flowery gardens the TV programmes concentrate on, it’s about getting your hands dirty and being able to devour the results.

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I seem to remember something about buses having a great big flywheel attached to their motors that spun up to speed whilst the bus was moving and effectively stored up energy to be used when it needed to accelerate from a stop. A much more elegant and efficient system has been developed by Vincent Carman. It uses hydraulic pressure to store up energy and transfer it to the wheels. The pressurisation means the engine can always be running at its most efficient without losing power through a geared transmission. Carman reckons his system, currently being tested in two cars, doubles fuel economy with no other changes.

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Back door politics

Tony Blair’s getting jittery. The latest campaign from Labour suggests that voting Lib Dem will somehow get the Tories into power. Which is bollocks, of course.

Mr Kennedy said: “There is no chance whatsoever of the Conservatives getting in by the back, the side or any other door because they have lost this election and people know they have lost.

“After eight years in power with three-figure majorities and a benign economic backdrop, if the best you can turn round to the country and say is, ‘Well, you must not vote for the Liberal Democrats for fear of something worse,’ that just shows you what thin ice Tony Blair is on.”

via Honourable Fiend

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