The Anonymous Widower


At a brief glance, the idea of a flying wind turbine, is akin to putting cows and pigs in the sky.

But enter a company called Altaeros Energies.

Look at their press release and video here.

It may seem wacky and totally off the wall, but the designers could have something.

When I did my electrical engineering degree in the 1960s, power was generated by either water from dams or steam generated by burning coal or oil or from nuclear.

There was no natural gas in the UK, and using it to generate electricity wasn’t in anybody’s book of ideas.

Now a good proportion of our electricity is generated directly from gas.

So don’t make any predictions about how we will generate electricity in ten or twenty years time.

The only certainty, is that a good proportion of our electricity will come from an unexpected source, that is totally discounted or even unheard of at the present time.


April 19, 2014 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Après Bob, Le Déluge

It would seem that the successors to Bob Crow at RMT are out to inflict more pain on Londoners, than Bob Crow ever did, with five days of strikes in the next few weeks, as reported here on the BBC.

But Londoners will in the main survive and get on with their business, just as they did when Adolf gave the city, quite a few years of much more dangerous strikes.

As someone, who uses the Underground and Overground a lot, I pass by ticket offices quite a bit. Many are crowded with long queues at the ticket machines.  Only a few stations seem to have long queues at the actual ticket offices themselves.

So to cure the problems of the queues at the ticket machines, Transport for London will introduce more and better machines at stations.

The ability to be able to use a contactless bank card as a ticket as well as Oyster, which is already happening and is supposedly working well on buses, will also contribute to a reduction of those needing the ticket offices.

If the machines and contactless cards do cut all the queues, then we could have have the situation of fully-manned ticket offices, where staff see hardly any customers at all.

Surely, the RMT should be stopping the installation of more ticket machines and the using of contactless bank cards as tickets, if they wanted to stop the closure of ticket offices.

Where else will this worrying new militancy turn up?



April 18, 2014 Posted by | News, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Lights, Fun, Action At Kings Cross

I heard of this art installation in the Standard, so I went to Kings Cross station to have a look.

It’s certainly fun! It’s part of the arts program at Kings Cross and is called Identified Flying Object.  This page gives more details.

It should win an award for the most innovative use of LED ropelights.

However, I do feel there is a case for someone to be on the swing in the middle covered in a few more ropelights or perhaps some photo-luminescent paint.

The possibilities are endless!

April 17, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Snippets From 1862

I’ve just bought a reprint of Bradshaw’s Illustrated Hand Book to London, which was originally published in 1862.

It was bought in Waterstone’s in Islington, as a present for a friend’s birthday, but I spent most of my lunch in Carluccio’s round the corner reading it.  It is full of interesting information and some very surprising differences and facts.

1. Nelson’s Column is known as The Nelson Column.

2. The Houses of Parliament is known as the New Houses of Parliament, as it has just been built.

3. The Crystal Palace gets a lot of pages.

4. There is a lot of description of places anyone familiar with London would recognise.

5. Under rules for railway travellers, it says that passengers are forbidden to smoke on trains or in stations.  But obviously, it was acceptable for the engines to do this!

6.They also have a table of money of all nations. As Germany wasn’t yet united, they have separate rates for Hamburg, Prussia and the German States. The Swiss rate is given against one of their coins, which was a thirty-two franc.

More details on the book are given here.

April 17, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | 3 Comments

A Disastrous Year

Not my words, but those of the the Chief Executive of the Co-Operative Group, Richard Pennycock, as reported on the BBC after the groups £2.5billion loss. He went on to add this.

These results should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who doubts just how serious the challenges we face are.

“The scale of this disaster will rightly shock our members, our customers and our colleagues,

The Co-Operative Group of 2015, will be a totally different organisation to what it is now! If it still exists! \which I seriously doubt!

There is one truism in any business that always applies. Unless you are totally professional in all things, then your venture will not succeed, as those that stick to professional principles will put you out of business.

April 17, 2014 Posted by | Business | , | Leave a comment

Not Long Now For The New Pudding Mill Lane Station

The Wharf is reporting that the Stratford top Bow Church section of the DLR will be closed over the weekend.

The DLR has is not running between Stratford and Bow Church from Friday 18 April until Friday 25 April due to Crossrail works at Pudding Mill Lane.

The completion next week will see the opening of the new Puddling Mill Lane station, 100metres from the original.

So it looks like it won’t be long before access to the Olympic Park, the Greenway and the ViewTube is a lot easier.

April 17, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Fracked Or Fiction

I went to the London Geological Society today to see a lecture called.

Fracked or fiction: so what are the risks associated with shale gas exploitation?

The lecture is described here on their web site.

They will put up a video in two or three weeks, which you can watch to make your own mind up.

My overwhelming conclusion after the lecture was that before we can embrace fracking in earnest, we must collect a lot more information. For example, we don’t know the background levels ofearthquakes and natural gas seepage in this country. So if say it is thought, that fracking had caused a small earthquake, can we be sure that that isn’t one that we habitually get in this country.

A secondary conclusion, is that my engineering knowledge indicated that there are several very fruitful areas for the development of new technological solutions to mitigate some of the possible problems of fracking.

Stopping fracking is probably an easy task for opponents, as it can be portrayed as dangerous in several ways, that appeal to the sensationalist media.  And of course the benefits of low gas prices aren’t so obvious, until they actually happen.

You can compare fracking with that other nimby-opposed project; HS2. This can be opposed in terms of noise, vibration and construction and visual disturbance cost, but the benefits of better and faster journeys is easier to understand by the man on the Birmingham train.

April 16, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

What The Heck Is This?

I like properly engineered or crafted products.

What The Heck Is This?

What The Heck Is This?

As a clue, it is cast in solid brass!

Can anybody tell me, what to use it for?

April 16, 2014 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments

BA Goes For Landfill Power

Imagine flying in an airliner, that is powered by landfill.

It sounds far-fetched, but according to this report in the Guardian, it could happen. Here’s the introduction.

A delayed project to supply British Airways with jet fuel from converted waste is a step closer after it was announced a location has been found for the GreenSky fuel plant, in Thurrock, Essex.

The GreenSky project will see BA commit to buy all 50,000 tonnes of jet fuel produced at the processing facility for at least 11 years. The plant, operated by Solena Fuels, is to be built by 2017 on the site of the former Coryton oil refinery, creating 150 permanent jobs.

I believe that the key to energy shortages and global warming is technology and that this type of development is something that we should and probably will see more of.

April 16, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Should Scottish Islands Be Given More Independence?

The BBC this morning is running a report about more independence from Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has promised to deliver greater powers for the Northern and Western Isles.

The Orkney and Shetland MP said government from Edinburgh had been “just as bad and just as dangerous” for the islands “as it is from London.”

He hopes to deliver “genuine and long lasting reform,” and said an agreement should be in place by midsummer.

Why not?

It could be argued that a greater degree of independence hasn’t done the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands any harm!

But if we look at giving this independence to any area of the UK, giving them control of their strengths and natural resources and such things as infrastructure, education and planning could only be positive.

I probably know most about infrastructure and especially railways than anything else and if we look at Scotland and London, where transport policy has been partially devolved, we’ll see a lot more rail projects than say in the North East or South West, so I’ll look at one example.

If East Anglia had control of its transport, they would have probably dualled the A47, A11 and A140 by now and would be seriously thinking about improving the London to Norwich and the Peterborough to Ipswich rail lines. The latter is probably needed to be electrified, to enable Felixstowe to compete with the London Gateway.

This type of local control could only be good for an area.

But as I said in this article on Mayors, central government doesn’t like to give up power.

April 16, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment


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