The Costa Concordia disaster spawns something new

I’m sure readers recall the grounding, refloating and salvage of the cruise liner Costa Concordia a few years ago.  It was one of the most complex and difficult marine salvage jobs in history, and success was far from a foregone conclusion. Whilst the ship is no more, the technologies developed and used to salvage her wreck are now being applied in a new and innovative way. Scottish marine salvage group Ardent is adapting the tanks it used to refloat the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship wrecked off the Italian coast in 2012, to decommission North Sea oil platforms. It is one of several companies trying new ideas to

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Waxing enthusiastic?

I’ve always thought of ear wax as something one didn’t mention in polite society.  It seems I was wrong – at least, as far as whales are concerned. Whale earwax forms like yours does: A gland secretes oily gunk into the ear canal, which hardens and accumulates into a solid, tapering plug. In the largest whales, like blues, a plug can grow up to 10 inches long, and looks like a cross between a goat’s horn and the world’s nastiest candle. Fin whale wax is firmer than blue whale wax, bowhead whale wax is softer and almost liquid, and sei whale wax is

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Old-school etiquette

Via Gab comes this very useful illustration of a full table setting.  Click the image for a larger view. I don’t know anyone who uses full place settings any longer – they’re really a relic of pre-World War II fine dining – but the diagram is still useful with less extensive settings.  Simply leave out the items one lacks, and arrange what one has in the order show. So, if you’re ever in doubt about how to lay the table, or in which order to use the cutlery at one’s place, now you know. Peter

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Where was this guy when we needed him???

A link at SNAFU’s place showed me a fast, ingenious way to fill sandbags. When I think of the literally thousands of never-to-be-sufficiently-damned sandbags that I filled the hard way, bending over with an entrenching tool and scooping sand, earth, mud and rock into a bag that always flopped closed at the critical moment . . . I’m speechless with a combination of rage, envy and bitterness.  Why didn’t we think of such an ingenious device when we needed it?  (On the other hand, if we had, I’m not sure our NCO’s would have let us use it.  The old-fashioned way would probably have been

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Slings and slingshots can be a lot more dangerous than I thought

I used to play with slingshots as a kid.  In those days, we made our own out of Y-shaped branches we picked up among the trees on Table Mountain, and used strips of old bicycle inner tube (or, on one memorable occasion, my mother’s entire stock of elastic for clothing – she was not amused!) to make the sling.  They could launch acorns, or small pebbles, or nuts from my father’s old-nuts-and-bolts jar, out to 20 or 30 yards.  I never hunted with them, but plenty of other youngsters did (including a younger Lawdog, with hilarious results). I hadn’t realized that slingshots have

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Belt knives at bargain prices

Now and again I come across products that are so useful, and offer such good value for money, that I have to recommend them to my readers.  I don’t get paid or compensated for doing so – that would make it a commercial transaction, rather than a personal recommendation, and I don’t do that here. Fixed-blade knives are usually stronger than folding blades, although that’s not always the case.  There are general-purpose blades, and more specialized ones such as skinning knives used by hunters, fishing filet and bait knives, and so on.  A good general-purpose field knife is a very, very useful tool. 

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A reader weighs in on the Tac Tool debate

Yesterday’s post about the Ka-Bar Tac Tool produced a number of comments and e-mails among those who know about and use such things.  One extended reply was submitted by reader Raven, who agreed to share it with all of us.  Given his background and experience, I found it interesting. My comments are not too well organized but do come from 50 years of manual labor- mechanical, logging, commercial fishing, woodworking etc. Modern life is packed with gadgets- any hobby or vocation is filled with trinkets to part people from their money- newest and best gimmick on the block syndrome- everyone looking

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No word on the smell . . .

I was taken aback (sort of) by reading about a new technique for producing bricks . . . using human urine. The world’s first ‘bio-brick’ made from human urine was unveiled by University of Cape Town (UCT) civil engineering masters student Suzanne Lambert on Wednesday. . . . Dr Dyllon Randall, Lambert’s supervisor and senior lecturer in water quality at UCT, explained that the “bio brick” is created through a natural process called microbial carbonate precipitation. “It’s not unlike the way seashells are formed,” Randall said. Parts of the urine are combined with loose sand and a bacteria to produce an enzyme

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Bombing a forest fire?

I hadn’t heard of aircraft bombing a forest fire to stop it spreading and help put it out, but the tactic was used in Sweden this week, apparently with some success. … on Jul. 25, a Gripen dropped a 500-lb GBU-12 Laser Guided Bomb from 3.000 meters in an attempt to cut fire affecting Älvdalen’s shooting range, a military range where unexploded ammunition and difficult terrain made conventional extinguishing methods not sufficient. The Swedish pilot dropped the GBU-12 so that the bomb would cut the fire at a certain distance from the impact point: a fire requires oxygen, heat and fuel. The explosion

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Zeroing a rifle for Maximum Point-Blank Range (MPBR)

Blue Collar Prepping has an interesting article about how to do this.  It goes into more detail, and greater complexity, than the usual approach to determining MPBR, but it does so in a useful way and is well explained.  Recommended reading for rifle shooters, whether novice or experienced. If you haven’t run into the concept before, here are a few articles explaining it: What is “Maximum Point Blank Range” Hunting? Maximum point-blank range Understanding MPBR For Better Shooting Learn Your Maximum Point-Blank Range Peter

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