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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in basal_surge's LiveJournal:

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Friday, February 20th, 2015
9:30 am
So what do you do, when, for want of a better or less loaded word, your re-enactment group no longer has the non gender specific equivalent of 'booth babes' to front at demos?
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
9:55 pm
Once a knight, always a knight, but once a week is not enough.
I see the BOD of my particular larp has decided to plump for the Civil Union option (SCA BOD, as it became obvious that there were more fields of martial endeavour than it recognises with a peerage, made another peerage for some of them, but not the others, rather than rolling all martial endeavour into the peerage for martial endeavour it already has.).

Which is probably the least disturbing option for the traditionalists, but probably the least appropriate, in that it doesn't recognise all of those that may be deserving.

Mind you, like Civil Unions, once the greybeards have toddled off, they can probably merge the legislation with the main act in twenty years.
Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
8:30 am
Thinking about safety
Huh. Bunch of wild weather last night, and on the radio this morning was a bit about someone who woke up last night to their bed on fire because the lightning strike had blown the power and phone lines, and set their router on fire on the headboard of the bed, cue bed headboard igniting, then mattress, etc. General panic, but all survived.

Maybe we shouldn't be keeping the router on top of the ammo and powder locker. Must do something about that. I mean, it's got a mains spike protector on it, but that's on top of the ammo locker too, so if the spiker does it's job and protects the router, but flames out, could be just as bad.
Monday, June 30th, 2014
12:19 am
Things that make you go Urg.
The disturbing history of Marion Zimmer Bradley and her husband, that hasn't really been covered up, but just covered by some sort of 'somebody else's problem' field for most of the past 50 years.

I've never been a devotee of her writing - I think I got most of the way through Mists of Avalon, but bounced off the writing style, disliked the liberties she took with the Arthurian storyline, and was slightly repulsed by some sections of the writing (Can't specifically remember, it was twenty years ago I read it.).

But it is sort of disturbing that this fairly implacable predator, as illustrated by her own testimony and that of her daughter, was one of the major founding characters of the medieval re-creation group that has been a significant hobby of mine for a very long time. Icky.
Saturday, March 29th, 2014
7:07 pm
So, Stormhold, eh? Whats up with the angst and burning through the officers?
Sunday, November 10th, 2013
11:49 pm
I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page. I must not troll the SCA period encampment FB page.
Thursday, April 19th, 2012
11:06 pm
Valē Oseberg?
Looks like funding has been denied to continue conservation of the Oseberg ship finds...

Anyone got a spare 5 million Euro?
Monday, April 16th, 2012
12:08 pm
On Books.
A comment I put on Crommunist's post about e-books/books controversy on FreethoughtBlogs; I've made this argument several times before, so I thought I'd put a version of it here:

Information durability is the reason that books will not yet go away. Ink on (non-acid)paper or vellum is still the best mass/durability compromise we have for long duration (by long, 500 years or greater) information storage.

I have and read books that are more than 200 years old. I’ve handled and read books that are 500 to 800 years old. They’ve even recovered sizeable portions of a 1200 year old manuscript that had been in an Irish bog for the thick end of a thousand years. About the only thing that beats organic material books is clay or stone tablets, but their information density sucks.

I cannot, currently, read any of the DVD’s or CD’s onto which I printed backup copies of my PhD thesis 10 years ago. Paper copy, however, is fine. I can still use the Apple IIe I did my highschool essays on in the eighties, but between half and 3/4 of the diskettes for it are hopelessly corrupt. My boss at work is hanging onto 10″ VMS diskettes because ‘there’s important information on those’ despite the fact we no longer have the device that uses them, but the hundred yearold treatises I needed to reference for my honours thesis are perfectly functional.

I have and enjoy an ebook reader, but I cannot be sure it will be a supported format device in five years, let alone ten.

Until someone comes up with a digital storage method that is a)physically durable on a millenial span and b)continually backwards and forwards compatible with previous technologies, printing out a copy of wikipedia every few decades on archival paper and binding it in leather, and sticking a few copies randomly in a dry cavern or monastery somewhere is still the best longterm information transmission system we have.
Friday, August 26th, 2011
8:17 am
Monday, June 27th, 2011
11:42 am
Baseless rumours of covered up volcanism; Public service announcement.
(Edited to add linkies, I'm apparently a bit Jargon heavy.)
There are various rumours going about Christchurch via twitter, etc, supplied by 'un-named officials', that the powers that be are covering up signs of re-awakening volcanism under Banks Peninsula. Passable but mediocre Stuff article on this here.

It is to Laugh! Despite what scientifically illiterate scaremongers are saying on twitter etc, possibility of volcanism being triggered by current seismicity is as likely as me being declared God-Emperor. Ie: infinitesimally possible, but _Not_Actually_Going_To_Happen. No really. I say this as a frustrated volcano freak with a PhD in volcano freakage, who would really really really like some active volcanism to play with in the South Island.

Current (Mostly Me-based, unpublished, but informed by my discussions with various of the volcano geeks I hang out with) understanding of the magma supply for most of the South Island volcanism in the last 20 million years of the Tertiary period (so the volcanoes at Banks Peninsula (approx 11 million years ago to 5.8-ish million years ago), all the little volcanoes between Oamaru and south Canterbury, plus those at Otago Peninsula, at various points between approx 25-ish to 5-ish million years ago) are within-plate magmas/melts of 'hot spot'/intra-plate type from direct melting of the mantle deep under NZ, with the best guess that conditions leading to the melting were fairly directly related to the formation of the Alpine fault and the retreat of the Subduction zone from Northland to Coromandel and thence to it's current location off East Cape.

As the Alpine fault really took off, and the subduction zone started moving clockwise from Northland to East Cape, at the same time as the subducting slab ripped through the Hikurangi Plateau where it was joined to the edge of NZ (an old jammed subduction zone from the Cretaceous when we were part of the Gondwana supercontinent;) in the southeast near the edge of the Chatham rise, in the mantle beneath you have flow of Asthenospheric mantle rock escaping around the southeastern ripped edge of that subducting slab of ripped Hikurangi Plateau crust - ie, hooning (for centimeters to metres/year mantle values of hoon) around the edge of the slab from the northeast to the southwest under the South Island. Where you have fast flow of the mantle, you often get decompression effects at the base of the crust, ie - hotspots and upwelling magma, (Mantle at base of crust circa 12-1400 degrees C, so ductile but solid because of the pressure) Allow slight decompression of this material, and you get melting, which then migrated upwards through the crust to form the various large and small South Island intra-plate volcanoes (Most volcanism occurs at the edges of tectonic plates, either at subduction zones or spreading ridges, so volcanism with in a plate is moderately unusual).

There's less of this mantle flow going on right now (for the last couple of million years value of now), so less (currently none) South Island volcanism. If there was active melt below Banks Peninsula, we'd be able to see it with seismic analysis, and particularly well, given all the extra seismic activity giving us years of work to analyse. Using seismic waves almost exactly like sonar, you can plot approximations of the sub surface structure, and molten rock forces earthquake waves to slow down, so large masses of melt show up on a plot of seismic velocities as a distinct 'Low Velocity Zone'. Using this, we can tell there is apparently active melt deep below Auckland (a small bit, don't worry, it's not doing anything right now (probably for hundreds to thousands of years value for 'now'), as we can see the low velocity material (ie, partially molten) in deep seismic tomography there. Same for Taupo Volcanic Zone. We _do_not_ currently see this sort of low velocity melt patches under the South Island, and once things calm down, we'll look very hard at Banks Peninsula, as we now have lots of data from the current earthquakes. You don't get conditions for active magmatism in the south of NZ until you get to the the subduction zone down south from the Solander to the Auckland islands, which is a different kettle of fish.

So, as much as I'd like to observe fresh Hawaiite lava fire fountaining from Diamond Harbour, or phreatomagmatic blasts deepening Lyttleton harbour by main force (it's really too shallow, you know), it's not going to happen right now (For pretty much the forseeable future on human terms of now, ie: your entire lifetimes).
Friday, March 4th, 2011
11:59 am
Some observations on emergency response to an earthquake in a rich country.
Caveat: I'm a geologist, not an engineer...

Anyway here it goes: Never pay real money for a House with a View close to a slope break/edge/ridge break. Particularly not if it's been badly Architect damaged (Read: Cantilevered out over an edge/ridge). From what I've seen over the past few days, if you're in NZ, have your tile roof replaced with corrugated iron, and any sort of applique brick/stone/block cladding replaced with a weatherboard cladding. If you're on a slab on sandy ground, well, good luck, but I'd recommend nice good pile foundations, driven in until refusal. Timber frame FTW. Masonry of any sort is your enemy, particularly if unreinforced. Retaining walls shall be of bloody big wooden railway sleeper type things, or well stacked and overlapped stone filled basket gabions. If your retaining wall is of material less than 150 by 75mm cross section, it may not retain. If by some accident of fate or family inheritance you find yourself owning or living in something made of unreinforced double wall brick, Sell it and GTFO, because they just fall on you unless you are prepared to do a lot of remodelling (read strip down the entire internals so you can but T-anchors in all the brick back into the internal timber frame, etc...). Tall brick/cinder block garden/yard walls fall over, even when steel reinforced. Plant a hedge instead, they're prettier, and flexible.

Stuff is just stuff. It's not your life.
Monday, January 17th, 2011
1:13 pm
New table.
New table. Recycled the legs from a water damaged '40s oak dinner table that had lost the top to rot, and the top from a water damaged '40s sideboard that had lost the bottom to the same.

Approx high medieval-ish pattern, although the legs are not quite right. Main spur to getting it finished after about a year of the bits knocking around the shed is to use it for a calligraphy table display at Taupo Joust this coming week.
Saturday, December 18th, 2010
1:57 pm
Impromptu Drinkies
There seems to be not much on this weekend, so for the relatively local, if you're in Wellington, ping me and come around for drinks after seven pm tonight.
Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
9:58 am
Pike River mine explosion.
I've not been saying anything about our latest geological incident in NZ, coming on top of the 7.1 in ChCh a couple of months back. But I've just had the following conversation on Faceblark, so I'll post it here too:

Grant to Me:
Can one of you geologists explain why the mine was OK to work prior to the explosion, but the methane levels now are such that the mine cannot be entered? Surely the explosion would have burnt all the methane, or it would be venting like it was in the past when the work was going on? Cheers.
15 hours ago
All sorts of things. I try to avoid working underground in coal, because it's more dangerous than most other underground work. The coal they are mining is a high volatile coking coal, so it's outgassing methane and a bunch of other stuff (Hydrogen sulphide, etc) all the time. They try and constantly monitor this, but obviously something failed to trip the monitors or there was a sudden gas increase/gas pocket. Odds on that most of the as yet unaccounted for miners died in the initial overpressure wave as it travelled through the mine, or if they were disoriented/injured and unable to get to the air refuges or use their re-breathers, died shortly after from both suffocation and injury. Same sort of overpressure/blast injuries as munitions blast, combined with no way to avoid the exhaust gases - the blast probably de-oxygenated most of the mine, and increased the carbon monoxide levels to a hazardous level. It wrecked their ventilation system immediately, so without artificial help, it can take days/months to get the atmosphere down there safe. They can't just rig new ventilators and open them up, because it'll probably just cause another explosion as the oxygen hits further methane and spontaneously combusts. I wouldn't be surprised if there's an ongoing fire, too, which will smoulder along in a very low oxygen environment, causing lots more carbon monoxide, and the heat will cause more production of methane from adjacent unburnt coal.
14 hours ago
Grant: So, they cant simply re-vent the mine? Thats interesting. I thought by merely venting the mine the O2 would get in. Tragic
2 hours ago ·
Nope, ventilation just after the blast is likely to cause a second blast, either from further methane production due to the heat effect of the first blast, or from coal dust fuel-air explosion, particularly if there are any hot smouldering spots, which hang around for hours/days/weeks, as in the confined space, with the surrounding rocks being very poor thermal conductors, the heat of the initial explosion cannot escape. So it can remain hot enough to explode, and the heat produces more methane from the volatile rich coal, but the explosion doesn't happen until the oxygen gets in. If the coal seam has ignited, they're fucked, both rescue wise and further mining wise. Some mines have managed to put fires out, but it's really hard. It'd be nice to think some of them survived, but they've basically had a fuel air explosion analogous to a cookie cutter or similar go off in a confined space, and then start re-charging itself to do it again.
about a minute ago
Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
1:08 pm
I have come of (internet) age...
...while meta-concern trolling a concern troll, the concern troll blocked/kill-filed me. first time ever! I should be more artful next time.
Saturday, September 11th, 2010
7:38 pm
Dear Lazyweb. I have an excel spreadsheet of street names and addressess. I need these plotted on a map quickly, en mass, so we can judge where we want to slam down a seismograph quickly. I have eight to twelve hours to do this

Any ideas?
Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
8:16 pm
Work Stuff: Christchurch Earthquake Strong Motion survey, local volunteers needed.
Hi all

With regards to the earthquake on Saturday last, I've just been roped into helping set out a strong motion research network across town. Over the next few days we need to plan and set out an array of instruments in different geological settings in ChCh, and hence are looking for people
who do not mind hosting an internet enabled geophone for a month or so. The crew is flying in tonight/tomorrow (I'm on the red eye).

If you are interested, please email me (myrealfirstname_at_paradise_dot_gen_dot_nz) with:

Contact details;
Street and Suburb;
and you will need a broadband 'net connection and spare USB port.

This isn't a certain thing, all the locations have to be run past the seismic gurus, but we're looking to get as good a spread (at least a hundred sites) across the whole town as possible.

We're probably advertising in the paper as well, but I thought I'd hit a few good sites this way as well.
Monday, September 6th, 2010
9:57 am
Sunday, September 5th, 2010
9:00 am
Team from UoC apparently reports surface rupture visible, something like 3.5m strike slip movement and around a metre and a bit of vertical.
Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
8:47 pm
Set up dreamwidth account should I need to bail from LJ due to continuing degradation of the site...
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