The half a billion dollar subway line with three stops

Total cost: €320 million, or about $500 million US. And this is a pretty interesting station in that it serves only the Brandenberg Gate and Bundestag, so some are calling it the Chancellor’s line. 130609BER802 Maybe we should just build new cities. Start with the subway systems under basically farmland or deserts and then build the rest of the city atop of the existing tunnels? Might be cheaper. Meanwhile, DC’s Streetcar effort remains hopeless stalled at about two blocks of work. The streetcars are stuck in the Czech Republic, having spent the first few years of their warranty in storage in the factory because DC doesn’t have anywhere to put them yet.]]>

How to build a radio while in a Japanese POW camp

Fascinating interview here about how some British POW’s cobbled together a radio receiver while in the middle of the jungle from random spare parts they had lying about the prison.  

    The resistors were another problem. We found out that we could use the impurities in some of the tree wood and the bark, particularly cinnamon bark which was available by getting through the wire only about 2 feet and we could normally pinch that while the Japanese sentry was moving around.       We used a piece of string with the material rubbed on it from the burning of the cinnamon bark with some impurities in it (we didn’t have a chemical analysis); we weren’t very fussed because most grid-leak resistors were about a megohm or thereabouts and we had no means or any way we could measure a megohm, so it was largely a trial and  error thing to see if it would work. We made a number of these bits of string and tied them round different things to dry  them out to get the thing going. Eventually about an inch, three quarters of an inch to an inch, was about the right order of things to get about a megohm resistance. They were the two main things.
  I wonder if POWs today would have the same skill set. Heck many folks don’t even learn morse code anymore.]]>

What if tankers drove as fast as jet skis?

More details: The first half begins just below the Port of Houston Authority Turning Basin (the very end of the channel) and continues down to Green’s Bayou. The second half takes us from there to Morgan’s Point at the head of Galveston Bay. From there we still have 31.5 miles of channel across the bay to the pilot station outside the Galveston jetties.

Fixing the CD player

I mean, I don’t really use it, but it wouldn’t close so things got a bit interesting.

“What’s with the CD player?”

“It’s broken”


“I don’t know. Something about a coin”

“A coin?”

“Nanny said there is a coin in there due to the young one because he was playing with it”

So I pulled it out of the rack and it weighed quite a bit more than I remember it. I tilted it on it’s side and it was like a box full of rocks with all the noise. A quick twist of some screws, the obligatory nearly slicing my fingers on a too sharp edge of the case (stupid manufacturers) and I had a great view of the ‘coin’. All told there was about 75 coins inside, a few pieces of paper and a Thomas the Tank engine trading card.

Let’s just post the picture so you understand what I’m up against. Time for a new stereo rack–this one with a door or something.


Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

My most recent order from Amazon arrives in a day or so. Haven’t read a novel in about a year (too many ‘real’ books to read) so I thought I’d give this one a try. Caught a bit on Deutche Welle the other day talking about the movie that was just released based on this book (and is breaking all sorts of film records in Sweden or wherever it was released). Guess we’ll have to see what all the hype is about.


Fire Alarms (Tones) of the World, aka how firemen wake up in the middle of the night.

Ok, I’ve been playing a lot with Youtube with the boy, and one of his our favorites is to watch all the fire trucks come out of the station in a flurry of lights, noise and excitement. ”Doors Open–Fire Truck Go” is now my son’s favorite sentence.

In watching these videos, I’ve come across some pretty interesting fire alarms. Gone are the days of a simple bell calling the firemen down the brass pole. No, it’s high tech. Here are a few examples (I actually turned the London one into my ringtone).

And of course, the call out for Squad 51 of Emergency!